Friday, September 15, 2017

God's Timing



I was supposed to start taking an in-depth look at the metaphor of being a grasshopper, but I have become truly distracted by other things going on in my life. Therefore, I think I will take a detour here. Eventually, however, I will work my way back to the grasshopper…I know you are really anxious to hear about it…but, I honestly think my current frame of mind will take me back to the idea of feeling small…because, regardless of the perspective from which I get there, I often end up arriving at the topic of trust…or lack of thereof… and how that causes me a great deal of distress.

Yesterday, my mind circled around the idea of God’s timing. It is not the first time I wrestle with this concept. But yesterday, as I waited for test results, I really was led to pause and ponder on how different God’s timing is from ours.

As it happens, I was hoping to get my test results back the day before, but due to a series of events, which had to do with me not filling out and returning a form my doctor sent me back in May, they did not receive the results when they should have. So yesterday, after some maneuvering, they finally got them…but then, they informed me that the doctor was not going to be in the office until next Tuesday! So, I was left with having to continue to wait…augh…

Sigh…

Well…after I panicked for a few moments, I decided I was not going to let that bother me. I decided to trust. I was still nervous, but I was able to let go…even if only my kind of letting go, which means I had to continue to let go, over and over and over again. I repeated in my mind: “I trust You, Lord…I trust You…” like a chant… and I continued on doing my stuff. I didn’t become paralyzed with fear, like I often do. I was able to take my mind off of the worry and into productive things. Then, as I was getting ready to go for my evening walk with Dan…on a whim, I checked my e-mail…and guess what? The test results had been sent to me electronically! WOW! That had never happened…I don’t think? So, I took a deep breath…and clicked on the link to read that it was normal…

Then, I exhaled as I praised the Lord for His goodness, love and patience with me, a little grasshopper, trembling, trying to hold on to her faith as she trusts His perfect timing.



It never ceases me to amaze me how perfect, indeed, His timing is…and how different it is from mine, Praise the Lord!

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! 
 Psalm 27: 14


"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55: 8-9

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Rest



Last Sunday at church, our Pastor was talking about the need for us to rest. Boy did that message resonate! I am so stressed out right now, I feel faint all the time.

The beginning of the fall semester is always very challenging for me. After a summer mostly off, my brain cannot adjust quickly to a routine, and I feel scattered and disorganized most of the time. This fall, I have the added stress of having to prepare two big review packets because I am applying for tenure. Our Department is so small at the moment, that I had to go outside of it to find committee members to review my application. This was particularly stressful since I absolutely hate to ask for favors…

Then, I’m teaching a class in a one-night-a-week format, which is completely new to me. And I am teaching two periods of Culture in a not-so-near-by High School for a program I am volunteering.

All in all, I have no idea what I am doing at work.

At home is not any better. This is band season, so Grant is gone three days a week. We go to the games on Fridays and I volunteer to work at the concession stand as much as possible. Dan is back to his school and work routine. Dylan is in his last year of elementary. The house is a mess. The garage is full of junk. The dog needs a haircut and ear medicine. And, on top of it all, I have to have checkups in the coming days and weeks, which alone, totally freaks me out and gives me enough anxiety to fill up a whole year.

I. Am. Exhausted…

A sermon on resting was exactly what I needed. I even came up with a neat acronym, something I am never creative enough to come up with:

Refuel

Empty

Souls

with

Trust

I know… I had to squeeze in “with” to make sense of it…but I like it. I like it because, in my case, the reason I am so tired and in need of rest is because I’m lacking in the trust arena.

If I could just trust His word… trust His promises… I would not worry the way I do. I think I could actually relax in the midst of any circumstance. I believe I could just go with the flow and enjoy the ride…

I’m frustrated with myself. I mean, it isn’t as if He hadn’t proved Himself trustworthy to me. He has delivered me through many storms, fires, toil and snares … but, over and over and over again…when facing something potentially scary, I still get afraid. And I wonder, would that ever change? Would I ever see the day when I sense a storm brewing in the horizon and I don’t get overcome by fear?

I waste so much time being nervous, afraid and anxious. I’m totally sick of it. Fear also makes me distracted, irritable, temperamental, moody, impatient…all the horrible traits that I am ashamed of become enhanced when I am going through periods of tension and worry.

Sigh…

Therefore, I not only become extremely tired myself, but I make everyone around me tired and stressed out.

What a pathetic cycle.

Because of all these… I also become empty. Dragging the chain of fear everywhere I go empties my soul. I need Christ to break every chain that enslaves me, and I need Him to refuel me. I pray I can offer Him an open heart so He can work in me. I need help… I need to trust Him… I need rest.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5&6

They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. Psalm 112: 7


And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8: 28


Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1: 9


But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” Mark 5: 36

Saturday, September 9, 2017

No Yolk!



This morning, as I was preparing our usual lazy, Saturday breakfast of scrambled eggs, home fries and… yes… I’m sorry… bacon, I cracked one of the eggs into the pan only to see that it had no yolk! It’s no joke, either! Sorry… lame!!!

Anyway, I buy fresh eggs bi-weekly from a friend whose kids have this wonderful fresh-egg-enterprise. The thing is that I was really surprised by the all clear contents of that little egg. I’m not going to lie, I was startled!

A few thoughts went through my mind, many of them kind of gross. But then, a couple were rather interesting… at least to me… yeah… I know.

At any rate, one of the things I thought was that maybe I should start listening to Rosa and crack my eggs in a bowl, one by one before using them, just to make sure they are alright and good for use. I never do that. She has been telling me that since the first time she taught me how to crack an egg open, just about a thousand years ago. But I have never followed that advice. Especially not in my years living here in the United States where I have done all of my “heavy duty cooking.” Why would I do that? Why would Rosa want me to waste time like that? It is a completely unnecessary step. All eggs are created equal in the USA!

Today, I got it: it is not the same when we are dealing with actually, naturally-occurring things. During my growing years in Panama, we ate fresh eggs. They were not all the same. Therefore, some might have been different when coming out of the shell… not uniformed… I am remembering that, now that I am getting my fresh eggs. Before, whenever I’d open a carton of eggs, I’d know that everything in there would be exactly the same: size, shape and color, etc. …no surprises whatsoever. Now, when I get my fresh eggs, often, the recycled carton in which they come shows an uneven lid, bulging to one side, making it difficult to keep it shut. Once I open it, the assortment of shades of brown and sizes is a delightful sight. Nature at its best, delivering variety rather than monotonous uniformity.

In our society of manufactured and genetically engineered everything, from eggs, tomatoes and petunias, to cows, sheep and human babies, humanity has fooled itself into believing that we are the gods of this world. The enemy and master deceiver has actually manipulated our American ingenuity into making us think that we can control every aspect of life. We are convinced that we have control over every detail of naturally occurring things. We are so delusional that we blame individuals for a hurricane or an earthquake!

And that is what happens when we usurp the place that belongs only to God.

No matter how much we distort things, the truth is that we are as much the creators of the majesty of an egg as we are the creators of the beauty of a full moon. Believing in the possibility of taming nature might have surprisingly, unexpected consequences…one of which is forgetting that nature is inherently untamed. Science and manipulation may get us, at best, to a position of speculation, but never of true certainty.

Nature will surprise us, because nature was intelligently designed and carefully crafted by the Creator of all…the Almighty God, and He is not a tamed one… no human can fully explain Him, no man can fully predict Him… no person can fully understand Him. We have a Father in Heaven who will continue to surprise His children with His love and protection, but who also will continue to surprise those who try to push Him aside or kick Him out of this world. They might not recognize Him, still…but I’m sure they get the uneasy feeling that when something does not go as they planned it…it might be because there are larger forces at play…but, since they refuse to accept that fact, they try to explain it by blaming fellow human beings for things that are completely out of the realm of the human hand.

God’s voice is the only one that the winds and the waves obey. He is the One who determines the number of the stars, and the One who sustains the Earth on its orbit. He is the only One who can determine whether an egg will have a yolk or if it is best for the family to have a bit less cholesterol in its Saturday morning meal.

I hope I can remember this… so I’m not startled next time I find an egg with two yolks! Or maybe, I should just finally follow Rosa’s advice…

Friday, September 8, 2017

In the Eye of the Storm



Today…actually, during the last couple of weeks, it appears that a song like “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson is a most appropriate song to have in the background as the days go by and we continue to hear about the devastation caused by several storms in the Caribbean and surrounding areas. Remember Harvey? That wasn’t too long ago, and we are already bracing for Irma with Jose following. Then there is Katia in Mexico, plus the earthquakes that shook that country’s southern area plus neighboring Guatemala. Talk about tsunamis, 10 foot-storm surges, tornadoes…let alone other types of threats derived from storms and natural phenomena like these…it is no wonder even people way out of the way of such devastation are feeling totally scared and worried.

I truly don’t know what to do or say at this time. I just wanted to express that I am concerned, but that I also know that God is Good…and that He is Good ALL the time, and that He is with us always. He is Good whether the hurricane makes landfall in our hometown or so far away that we can’t feel it. He is with us in the eye of the storm as well as in the calm of the distance. He does remain in control, even when all around us there is chaos and devastation. And He can work goodness out of disaster. He is the God that can make all things new…and He will renew the face of the earth. He is the God that the winds and the waves obey…and He will restore us.

At this time, I pray for all who find themselves in the path of these current storms, earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, surf surges, etc. May the protective hand of our Great God be with you. He will deliver you. And when calm returns, He will place His angels all around to help you rebuild.  In the meantime, let's acknowledge our weakness, and rejoice in the fact that once it is out of our control, it goes straight into His hands. 

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.  
Psalm 46: 1-3

He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea were hushed. 
Psalm 107: 29




Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Little Grasshopper 2



While pondering all the questions from yesterday, about whether or not I should be ashamed of feeling like a grasshopper or if I should aim at embodying the traits of a giant, I figured I’d like to know a bit more about both of these specimens.

Let’s start with the grasshopper today. Apparently, grasshoppers have been around for a long time. They are ground-dwelling insects that feed on leaves, grass, but also other non-plant related refuse...yikes… They don’t really fly, but have powerful hind legs which enable them to escape from threats by leaping vigorously.

When we went to Panama this past summer, we stayed at a beach for a few days, and discovered many, large, bright-green-colored grasshoppers hanging around the hotel grounds every day. I never thought about them much, but they did hang out by themselves. We never saw two together…Then, today, I read that they are typically a solitary-type insect…interesting…

Male grasshoppers spend much of the day stridulating: making a noise or “song” by rubbing a row of pegs on the hind legs against the edges of the forewings. Some females stridulate, but not nearly as much as males…they are too busy taking care of business J

An adult grasshopper has a life-span of only about 50 days.

Another interesting fact I was not aware of is that at high population densities and under certain environmental conditions, some grasshopper species can change color and behavior and form swarms. Under these circumstances they are known as locusts. So, this means, that the 9th plague God sent to Egypt to “persuade” pharaoh to let His people go was none other than an oversized swarm of grasshoppers…hmmm…

At any rate, how do I compare to a real-life grasshopper? And, do I want to be one?

I guess I should first create a list of the characteristics to then explore each of them in more detail. So let’s see:

1. Ground-dwellers

2. Don’t fly, but leap powerfully

3. Solitary individuals

4. Make song most of the time … if you are a male.

5. When in large numbers, they form swarms and then only concentrate on eating most of the time.

6. Don’t have a long life-span

Well, I guess we can begin our in-depth look at the grasshopper and see if this effort leads us to any beneficial conclusion or if it is all a waste of time…how is that for enticing? Hope to see you tomorrow!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Little Grasshopper



I remember it very clearly even though it happened about a million years ago. I was sitting on the floor. A group of folks were gathered together, as it had become the norm every Sunday evening, for a Bible study our, then, newly arrived Pastor held at his home. I always had a wonderful time at our meetings. It was the very first time I was ever a part of anything like that. It was truly special to sit around a group of seekers of the Word, hungry for the Bread of Life! I learned a lot at those Bible Studies…not just about Scripture, but about myself as well.

It was then when I realized that I was a grasshopper.

Indeed, I am.

I can’t remember exactly what we were studying. I do remember, however, that we were exploring something that had to do with Numbers 13. As soon as I heard Numbers 13: 33, I knew…: We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

There it was. I had probably heard that passage before at some point. After all, I had been raised in the Church. But the words had never spoken to me so loudly. I can safely say that I had never identified myself with anything so profoundly as I identified with the grasshopper back then…and still today.

I am that person who focuses on the problem. I am that person whose eyes immediately go to the obstacles. I am that person who is instantly intimidated by the size of the mountain. I am that person who becomes paralyzed by fear when facing the giants. I am that person who, in her own eyes, she sees herself as a grasshopper.

The root of my problem? Lack of trust.

Not unlike the ancient Israelites, I lack trust in the Most-High God. Not unlike the ancient Israelites, I have a hard time surrendering my all into the Hands of the One Who Made it all.

I am an ancient Israelite grasshopper!

Why am I thinking about this today, sooooo many years after that night at Pastor Doug’s house, you might ask? I’m not sure. But I think it has to do with the fact that the whole thing with me feeling like a grasshopper has not ended. I still feel the same today as I did back then, all those years ago. I’ve also been thinking, what is there for me to do?

Should I stop feeling like a grasshopper? Should I think of me as a giant, instead? This grasshopper v. giant dichotomy has been circling around in my mind lately. I’m not sure where this trend of thought will take me, but, if you are game, let’s get on this new boat and see where we land!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Cold, September Morning



As I turn the page on August and September greets me with a rather chilly morning, I can’t help but feeling melancholic about the end of summer. I know that it is not officially over yet, but with Labor Day upon us…it may as well…

I have to admit that the thought of fall makes me shudder…

Yesterday, my devotional reading was about appreciating God’s radiant presence in the amazing sceneries He surrounds us with. The writer talked about the incredible beauty of some small paradise off the coast of Australia, and how unbelievable it all was. Overwhelmed by such splendor, the author worshiped God. I longed to be in places like that. My limited mind and corrupted heart coveted the author’s experience. I wanted to be in that small paradise off the coast of Australia. Why couldn’t I? Why couldn’t I go to places like that? Why can’t I LIVE in a place like that? Why do I have to be stuck in a place with cold mornings in September?

Sigh…

Later, Dan and I went for a walk around our neighborhood. I treasure these walks because it is about the one time that my husband and I get all to ourselves in the day. We also, often, use this time to discuss things that are pressing in our minds. It was early dusk and we were talking about something that was making me walk with my head down, eyes on the ground. As we walked our last stretch, Dan looked up to the sky and pointed out the neat shades on the clouds. I finally lifted my eyes from the uneven pavement and saw a most delicate combination of blues, whites, and infinite shades of pink possible. It looked as if a Master Painter had decided to gift us with a beautiful sample of what He was capable of creating.

Sigh…

I had missed the point of the devotional reading in the morning. By complaining about the place where I live and being disappointed that I could not experience adventures like a trip to the small paradises off the coast of Australia, I had missed the fact that the splendor and majesty of our Great God transcend time and space. He displays His beauty and glory in all nature…even right here…in my neck of the woods. I just have to open my eyes, and look up! Be it in a hot afternoon in Panama, in a melancholic evening around my neighborhood or in a cold September morning sitting at my desk, I just have to fix my eyes on Him, see the creation that surrounds me which speaks His name and reflects His glory, and worship right where I am.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Got Talent?



-“I don’t want to play soccer, or baseball, or basketball, or football. I don’t want to join a swim team either!” Argh!

Sigh…

-“But Dylan, you are…”

-“I know, I know what you are going to say… I’m wasting my talents…”

This is a little dialogue that goes on at our house quite often lately. Dylan has incredible eye-hand coordination and, in my opinion, which is pretty worthless if you ask me, he is totally wasting it. He has gotten into his head that he doesn’t want to play any sports. And, to tell you the truth, I am tired of pushing.

This whole thing about talents is very frustrating to me. I consider myself rather talentless (here’s my insecurities speaking again). Therefore, I get really annoyed when I see gifted, talented people just … not using their gifts and talents…sigh…

I have to let go of that way of thinking.

Today was a good day to start.

As I was endlessly running errands earlier, in between stops, I heard bits and pieces of two broadcasts that really made me see things from a different perspective. First, I heard the last few minutes of a sermon from Pastor Rick Warren. He said something like: you are at the church you are because the church needs the talents you have…hmmmm

That got me thinking…

Later, I heard the last few minutes of a talk by someone I have never heard before, it was Pastor Dimas Salaberrios. This was a broadcast of Focus on the Family. At any rate, I heard Pastor Salaberrios wrapping up a speech about how God rescued him from the streets of the Bronx. Apparently, he had been a notorious drug dealer for a long time, and his conversion was nothing less than miraculous. He said that once he got out of jail, and was a fully committed Christian, His soon-to-be-wife took him to a church where they were going to have a mission that would smuggle Bibles into China. He said that his eyes opened wide at the thought of being able to smuggle for Jesus! He actually used the skills he had developed as a drug dealer to bring the Word of God into China!

As I heard that, I was like…WHAAAAT? It was a total slap on the face…but lovingly, of course…maybe more like Our Heavenly Father grabbed my face into His hands and shook it a little, like my Dad used to do when he wanted me to really see something…sigh…

Who am I to say I have no talents? Who am I to determine what God can and cannot use for the furthering of His Kingdom? Who am I to put limit on the Almighty? Who am I to judge how talents should be used? Who am I to decide when a talent is being wasted?

I cannot control what Dylan, Grant or anyone else decides to do with the gifts God has endowed them with. But I can control the way I look at their decisions. I can look at it from the perspective that God can and will use anything…even if we think we are not ready…even if we are not willing…even if we think we have nothing He can actually use.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Summer Meditations: Hanging On to Scriptures



I began these meditations on Psalm 139 earlier in August because of my constant struggles with insecurities. A deep-rooted sense of inadequacy is my constant companion. I feel like a fraud most of the time. Voices in my head yell at me things like: “You are a horrible Mother and the worst wife in the world!” “You call yourself a teacher? HA! You have no clue what you are doing!” “With friends like you, who needs enemies?” “You are a terrible sister and you were a bad daughter!” “You neglected your parents and now they are gone! You abandoned your siblings, now they hate you!” “You don’t know how to be an aunt.” “You do not deserve to be called a child of God!”

Sigh…

There is so much screaming going on in my head, I’m going deaf! I suffocate in the turbulent waters of my inner blame, product of my own self-creation and inability to make the noise stop.

I need to drown those voices, but I can’t…I cannot do it on my own. The Holy Spirit is the Only One who can silence, once and for all, the lies that bounce on the walls of my mind day in and day out. And I believe, the best tool of the Spirit to accomplish this divine task is to flood my brain with the Living Waters of the Word of God.

Here’s where precious pieces of Scripture such as Psalm 139 come into action…as a lifeline, a lifesaver…to which we hang on in order to stay afloat, until we realize we are truly standing on the Solid Rock…until we get our bearings back, and realize that we were always standing on the Solid Rock…for that sense of drowning, drifting and despair were nothing more than the deceiving work of the enemy.

No matter how I may feel about myself. No matter how inadequate I think I am. No matter how worthless I believe I am. No matter how much of a fraud I consider myself. There is nothing that can separate me for the love of God:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our LORD. Romans 8: 38-39

I claim these words as my own. I hang on to them for dear life. And I use them as my banner, because His banner over me is love! (Song of Solomon 2: 4)

Psalm 139 stands as a reminder to all of us who struggle with insecurities about whatever, that He knows us…He knows us better than anyone, even than ourselves…because He made us. And in spite of knowing everything about ourselves, the good, the bad and the ugly, He declares us marvelous! Therefore, we are! He loves us and He says we are wonderful, because we are wonderful in Him, regardless of what the world may think.

So, as we allow our minds and hearts to be filled with and by the Way, the Truth and the Life there will be no room for guilt… no place for self-hate… no space for the voices of the enemy…no darkness…Only Jesus and His Light!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Summer Meditations: Make Me New, Lord!



23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

As we come to the end of Psalm 139 I am standing on the dawn of my first day back to work after a wonderful summer. I’m typing these words just minutes before I have to go get dressed, and I can’t help but being nervous about the new semester.

I look back at the summer months, running around with the kids…having fun…waking up every morning filled with the joy of carefree days…and I feel my heart become seriously melancholic. I love summer!!!!

Today, on the other hand, I wake up, stomach full of butterflies, head full of anxious thoughts. The fear of another stressful semester threatens to consume me…sigh…the fear of another season of self-doubt and sense of inadequacy threatens to paralyze me…

I want to be intentional, however…I want to be intentional about casting all my anxieties onto the Lord…I want to be intentional about trusting Him!

I want Him to search me once again, and know my heart. I want Him to test me, know my anxious thoughts and see if there is any offensive way in me, so He can wash it all away along with my fears and insecurities. I want Him to show me when I am being judgmental and self-righteous, as He gently reminds me to be humble, gentle and kind, displaying the fruits of the Spirit who is seriously working hard in me. I want Him to make me new. And I want Him to lead me in the way everlasting.

I have to go now, but tomorrow we will conclude our walk along the verses of Psalm 139 with a reminder that we are wonderful, regardless of what we might think of ourselves.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Summer Meditations: Reality Check



19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!

20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?

22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

Well…this portion of Psalm 139 almost feels as if it didn’t belong here. To tell you the truth, verses 19-22 make me feel a bit uneasy. I don’t know what to make of them… Where do these thoughts come from? They feel completely unrelated to the topic of the Psalm, which I interpret to be a reminder of how intimately God knows His children, and how, in spite of such multi-dimensional knowledge, He loves us…He thinks we are wonderful! I believe, this Psalm is about how the Lord ministers to each of His children personally, individually and compassionately. The whole Psalm, up until here, reads as a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s infinite pouring of His love on His completely underserving children. Then, all of a sudden, we find ourselves asking God to “slay the wicked!” Hmmmm

I can’t help but thinking that it was, precisely, David’s meditation on the depth of God’s love toward His own, and on His mercy, what led Him to consider the absurdity of the fact that there are some who would speak of God with evil intent…that there could be some who hate Him, and that there are many who are in rebellion against Him…

David’s heart, a heart after God’s own heart, could not fathom that reality. Therefore, He turns to righteous anger. He sees no use for the wicked. They are the enemy and they need to be sent away.

How could they not see the goodness of our loving God? How could they misuse His Name? How could they rebel against the Lord? How could they hate Him?

David has no patience for them. He abhors them and wants them wiped out.

David knows Our God is a Holy God. He knows that His name is Holy. He knows that He deserves all reverence, worship, praised and thanksgiving! Therefore, seeing the actions of the wicked revolts him.

I believe, that verses 19-22 of Psalm 139 give balance to this piece of Scripture, so we don’t forget that God IS Love, but also, that He is just as every bit as Holy as He is Loving. The Word reminds us that the fate of the wicked is separation from the source of life…which means death.

Sigh…

The state of our society scares me to no end. However, I trust God’s plan and His wisdom. Therefore, I no longer see these verses as out of place…now, I see them as a reality check.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Summer Meditations: He Thinks of Me...



17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

A while ago, the Holy Spirit led me to the discipline of offering my very first thoughts in the morning to My Lord. Rather than allowing my head to be inundated by the mundane thoughts of my day ahead, I try to hit the pause button for a few seconds and recite the words:

This is the day which the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118: 24

I also offer a few phrases of praise and thanksgiving, which I try to keep in my mind throughout the day.

This simple routine is minimal, I know, but it has helped me to gain perspective and balance in my mornings. Before, as soon as I would open my eyes or get the first awareness of the new day, my head would directly go to the troubles and tribulations that awaited me. I would start the day in such frantic manner, that by 8:00 a.m. I’d be ready to get back in bed for I was spent.

The funny thing is that, even though this small step toward the goal of permanently fixing my eyes on Christ seems easy enough, it is not. You have no idea how many mornings I have to re-shift my thoughts as I catch myself going to the world first, rather than offering praises to the Maker of the world for the gift of a new day.

Sigh…

Now, imagine my deep sense of conviction as I read verses 17 and 18 of Psalm 139… God thinks of me so often, that the task of counting his thoughts of me is unattainable … for the sum of His thoughts of me is so vast that it outnumbers the grains of sand in the sea. If anyone were to attempt to count them, they would not succeed! He thinks of us not only in the morning, but permanently, forever, at all times! Unfathomable!

Who am I that you would think of me, Lord?

I am humbled…deeply humbled by this realization.

And to think that I cannot even give you a proper “good morning,” sometimes…

That just proves, once again, what the Almighty, Himself tells us:

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55: 8

Therefore, in my human frailty, I respond to You,

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!

How vast is the sum of them!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Summer Meditations: You See me and You Still Love me



15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

I don’t really wear makeup. However, I’m addicted to lipstick. I cannot leave the house without it. I always have at least 3 in my purse, 2 somewhere in my desk at work, and I have learned not to leave any in the car the hard way. I’m actually ready to spend a decent amount of money in a couple of new shades right about now. The reason, I just really dislike my face without lipstick. I look too pale. I feel naked in a way… maybe I’m just too vain… but I don’t feel put together. I feel not finished.

I know, it’s stupid, right? The thing is that not many people are willing to let anyone see them when they think of themselves to be in an unshapely…unformed state. It’s like we feel skeletal without the trimmings. Like a Christmas tree without ornaments…I hate to bring up Christmas in the summer, but I see those Christmas trees standing in a remote corner of my basement and I look away. There is a reason I have them covered with plastic bags…they are just the frame, who wants to see that? Therefore, I hide them.

Back to the lipstick business, I just don’t like showing my flaws. Lipstick covers a multitude of them! And that’s just my dumb face! Now, imagine letting someone see an X-Ray of my soul? A sonogram of my deepest thoughts? A movie of my inner life?! Yikes!

Nobody really wants to see all the things we weave together in the depths of our minds. I don’t like people seeing me without lipstick! Imagine how protective I am of the things I hide in the secret places of my heart!

Well…there is someone I cannot hide anything from…

The Great I Am sees it all! Super Man’s X-Ray vision is pitiful compared to the multi-dimensional images the Lord sees of all of what we are inside…of all of what we truly are like.

I know, I’m rambling and babbling here. But that’s the effect thinking about God’s eyes seeing everything about me, from the time I wasn’t even formed to today and beyond, has in my mind. I get really nervous. I want to look for my lipstick, but there isn’t one that can cover the nakedness of my frame to His all-seeing-eyes…so I shudder.

He also sees all the days of my life. He ordained them Himself. He wrote them in the book that details all the events of my stay on this earth. O, the inexpressible map of your ways! Why, knowing all there is to be known about me, You chose to love me? I would never understand it. But I will forever be grateful as I humbly accept Your eyes upon me and Your hand of blessings upon my life.


Romans 8:1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Summer Meditations: We Are Wonderful!



13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

At the center of this magnificent Psalm we find, what I believe, is the core premise of the message: God created me, and God’s creation is wonderful; therefore, I am wonderful!

Regardless of what I might think of myself. Regardless of how lowly I consider myself. Regardless of how much of a failure I am convinced that I am…all that feeling of inadequacy comes only from one place: the enemy.

Everything the enemy plots has the general goal of separating us from God. What better way to interfere in our relationship with our Lord, than to make us think that we are not worthy of being in a relationship with Him. The enemy makes us feel ashamed of who we are. He fills us with guilt, so we would put distance. We hide from Christ.

Last school year, around January, I got a bit distracted with work so I stopped paying close attention to Grant’s grades. I didn’t check his progress as often as I had been doing until then. I don’t know where the weeks went…so, by the time I checked…he was failing math!!!!

I flipped! I yelled! I threatened! I made him feel ashamed…

“Why didn’t you tell me you were having problems in Math????? We could have helped you!!!!!!”

I got no answer…of course.

Sigh…

As he began to have issues with the subject at school, he started to feel ashamed. The more in trouble he got, the more ashamed he became. And the less inclined to asking for help from us he was…because he knows that I am a harsh judge…because he didn’t want to have to deal with my reaction…because he didn’t think I would be proud of his mediocre performance.

Double sigh…

We are the people our sons can turn to when they are in trouble in this world. I mean…the line of people who truly care about them starts and ends with us! They know that. But they walk away from us when they are ashamed even if it means that they will be alone, sinking in the pit of their problems because they are not able to help themselves…but they rather do that, than confront their guilt and shame.

I do the same. The Lord is my refuge and my strength…my ever-present help in times of trouble…(Psalm 46), but when I am in the type of trouble that makes me ashamed of myself…I walk away from the One who is able to help me get out of that shame-inducing trouble…

The thing is that we judge God with the same measure that we judge people. Grant knows me. He knows how I react to things like him not getting satisfactory grades. As it happens, parents are usually the barometer we use to attempt to gage God’s nature and behavior. We attribute our Heavenly Father the earthly characteristics of our biological parents. And, I don’t know about you and your parents, but in my case, neither me, nor my parents have been the best models of godly parenthood.

What to do, then?

Well, we go to the truth. Rather than trying to apply human traits to God, let’s go to His Word! What does Scripture say about the nature and logic of God?

Well, let’s take just one example: God created me, and God’s creation is wonderful; therefore, I am wonderful! Where’s the shame on that?

He created our “inmost being.” He “knitted us together in our Mother’s womb.” He knows every…single…detail about us because He made every…single…detail about us. And, even though He did…He still loves us and thinks we are wonderful. And we are wonderful not because of what we do, or performance or our behavior. We are wonderful because He FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE US! It is because of who He is and what He has done that we get the title of “wonderful.” And it is because of His breath of life in us that we get to know that full well.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Summer Meditations: Total Eclipse of the...



11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.


The Great American Eclipse! I’m sure most people in the United States have been saturated with information about this natural phenomenon that we are about the experience in a few days. By now, most of us are very familiar with everything about it, from the safest glasses to wear to be able to see it, to the top viewing spots. For some, the eclipse will be total, and even though it will be fast, the event will obscure the sun for approximately 2 minutes and 40 seconds, plunging the area where it is visible, into a sort of twilight in the middle of the day.

I don’t think I have ever experienced a total eclipse of the sun (am I the only person who wants to break out in song every time they begin to say the phrase, “total eclipse…”? It’s not funny anymore!) Anyway, I’ve never experienced one, but I’m sure it could be creepy. It has to be an assault to one’s senses. One second it is bright and sunny (unless you live in my neck of the woods, of course…where it is always dark and cloudy…) and the next thing you know, it is dark…I mean, c’mon? How do you prepare for that? I guess, that’s why there has been such a proliferation of information about. So, people can become as prepared as possible and the event doesn’t catch them by surprise.

Hmmm…

Darkness is not something most people are comfortable with. I’m sure that at the thought of darkness, many if not everyone shudders. I doubt it, however, that there is anyone who can honestly say that he/she has been able to escape going through moments of darkness. I haven’t. And, unlike for the Great American Eclipse, I have not been prepared to face it. All of the sudden, my bright, sunny day has become obscured by circumstances outside of my control, which were not even within my radar, and I have not known how to handle it. In the midst of such unexpected night of the soul, I have done nothing but panic.

To be honest, however, there have been other times in which…I have chosen darkness as my path. I have voluntarily walked into darkness. I have desired it. I have hidden in it.

I have deliberately turned away from the Light, because the Light is just too bright for my weakened eyes to withstand.

Sigh…

So, I have dwelled in the dark. Rather than keeping my eyes on the One who is Light, I have chosen the shadows that lead to nothing but spiritual death…not realizing that, even when the Light seems too bright when I am in the pit, there is a Divine Shadow outside of the great hole, under which I can take refuge until healing comes, instead of cornering deeper into the abyss. It is the Shadow of His Wings!

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91: 4

At those times when I have chosen darkness, I forget that there is an alternative to dwelling in pestilence:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91: 1

I have to remember that the darkness of this world is never an option. In those moments when the weakness of my flesh takes over and I want to hide because of my shame, I need to hide in Him!

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91: 2

On Monday, some of us will have the privilege to experience an amazing and rare natural phenomenon. As we do, let’s remember that the Light of God is never darkened because

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. Psalm 139: 12

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Summer Meditations: God's Omnipresence



7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

Today I am grouping verses 7-10 of Psalm 139 to reflect on the topic of God’s omnipresence. And, as I begin to think about this theme, it is impossible for my mind not to go back to my role as a Mother. I can’t believe how much God reveals to me about who He is, as He leads me through the troubled waters of motherhood…sigh…

At any rate, Grant is wrapping up two weeks of Band Camp at this moment, and they are gearing up to a full day at Kennywood to march in their first parade of the season, and also have a day of fun before school starts. As it often happens, the Band Boosters will chaperone this event, and they are looking for volunteers. My first instinct was to jump at the opportunity to go so I could keep a watchful eye on Grant. However, I have Dylan, and they don’t really like chaperones bringing their younger children since they want them to have their full concentration on the Band kids, of course… so… I’m totally torn!

How am I going to keep my eyes on both, Dylan and Grant at the same time?

No matter what I do, I will not be able to be with both…

God, on the other hand, never faces such conundrum. He doesn’t have to choose which of His children He is going to watch…He can and does keep His eyes on every one of us at all times regardless of where we might be. He sees us even when we hide from Him!

I know that if I would decide to chaperone, Grant would do all he can to flee from my presence all through the day. He’d only try to find me if he needed money…sigh…

I also know that if I would decide to stay home with Dylan, he too would avoid my presence for the most part.

Therefore, no matter what I do, I could never, truly, be there, holding their hands, guiding them, protecting them at all times. It is just impossible.

Our Heavenly Father, however, has us within the reach of His outstretched arm always! Hiding from His presence, trying to flee from Him is futile. No matter where we go, He is there! Even when we not just stumble, but deliberately fall into the deepest pit… even when we sink in the thickest darkness… even when we burn in the fiercest fire… His presence goes with us. His hand guides us. His right hand holds us fast and tight until we come out on the surface, into the Light, away from the fire.

Regardless of how convicting this thought might be for us, the truth of God’s omnipresence brings an infinite amount of comfort and peace into my heart and mind, for I know that His presence will go with me, and He will give me rest. (Exodus 33: 14) He will give me rest from my own self-judgement, from my own self-condemnation. And I know, that as He goes with me, He makes known to me the path of life…because in His presence there is fullness of joy and goodness forevermore! (Psalm 16: 11) Praised be His Holy Name!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

You Hem Me In...



5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

Verses 5 and 6 of Psalm 139 bring so much comfort to my soul. I began this meditation on the Psalm looking for a way to remind myself of God’s love toward me… looking for confirmation that even though I feel like a failure, filled with flaws and riddled with inadequacies, He, the God Almighty, Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and of all life… loves…me… - Today, these piece of Scripture paints a beautiful image of this love.

“You hem me in behind and before…” This word picture brings back memories of my childhood. I grew up sitting on the floor by Rosa’s feet. Rosa is a seamstress by training, so she used every minute she had off after completing her work responsibilities around the house, to sew. She made all my clothes until I was a Senior in High School! I still have pieces made by her in my closet today, which I treasure dearly… but, back then, I just sat on the rustic floor of the back porch at my parents’ house, and watched her sew.

She patched holes, sewed buttons, made whole outfits from scratch, but above all, she hemmed. Inevitably, there was always something that she needed to hem every day. I am so not talented when it comes to making things with my hands…really…I am a disgrace at the fine art of craft making and such. With her divine patience, however, Rosa did manage to teach me how to hem. I remember watching intently as she showed me. The needle would expertly go in one side, through the material, under it, to then emerge again attaching both sides securely, but delicately at the same time. It was like magic to my young eyes. The process was long, but it had to be done paying close attention all the way throughout in order for it to be done right. Her eyes had to be on, truly on the whole way…otherwise the hem would be crooked and the stitches would be uneven.

Even today, the memory evokes an image of profound love, patience and peace. Rosa sitting on a worn-out chair by the light of the noonday, her hands on the fabric, expertly and carefully moving the needle softly in, behind and before…

The days of me spending hours sitting by Rosa’s feet while I watched her hem my Mother’s skirts are over now…but the vivid image of love and dedication those memories contain would endure in my heart forever...especially because they point me to this moment when...

I close my eyes and imagine God’s hand hemming me in with his thread of life into the fabric of His Kingdom, behind and before…all the way around, evenly, smoothly, perfectly…laying His hands upon me to sustain me...keeping His eyes on me to protect me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain!


  

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Summer Meditations: The Unruly Tongue



4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.


O dear! Verse 4 of Psalm 139 hits me like a ton of bricks.

Of all the behaviors that are…say…questionable in my character, an uncontrolled tongue is one of the worst. My kids would gladly testify on this one. Speaking life is not one of my attributes…sigh…

I snap too quickly, then, my frustration comes out in harsh words that leave behind a wake of sadness, regret and guilt.

My carelessness and selfishness lead me to saying things with the intention of hurting the one who hears them. When facing stressful situations or confrontations, rather than choosing my words wisely in order to keep the peace, I choose them wisely in order to wound and win the argument.

It is a behavioral issue that I have been working on since forever. The best way for me to not be harsh is by not talking. Therefore, often, what happens is that I just bite my tongue and stay quiet even when it would have been good for me to speak up. I just shut it because I know the second a word gets out of my mouth, it is not going to be the right word and it will cause the other person to say something that is going to trigger even worse words from me and the thing would not end well. Staying quiet works every time. The problem is that I cannot always do it, and that even if I am able to keep my mouth from producing words, the words are bouncing inside of my mind just as loudly and harshly.

I don’t think that’s the way it is supposed to go either, is it?

And the worst part is: God knows all of this! He knows all of my spoken and unspoken words even before they have been fully formed in my mind!!!

And the most incredible thing is: He loves me anyway…

However, He wants me to change, so He works in me constantly. My behavior would not truly change, however, until I surrender it to Christ. I have to crucify my unruly tongue and thoughts, as I nail them to the cross. That is the nature of “being crucified with Christ and no longer living, but Christ living in me” (Galatians 2: 20-21) By allowing the blood of Christ to cleanse us as we crucify our sinful nature, we cease to exist in our old form as Christ re-shapes us and makes us new letting Him be the One that dwells within our souls.

The amazing thing is, however, that we don’t have to wait until we are new and perfect to come to Him. He has already adopted us just as we are. It is not up to us to renew ourselves. He is the One, the Only One who can accomplish that. We just need to have a willing heart and surrender it all.

So…what I need to remember every time I fail at controlling my mind and my tongue is that I have a merciful and compassionate Father who loves me even though He knows me.

He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Revelations 21: 5a

Monday, August 14, 2017

Summer Meditations: Just as I Am



Here we are again, back to Psalm 139. Today, we’ll take a look at verse three:

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

Bottom line, the Lord knows me/us. He knows everything about us. He knows what we keep hidden in places we hope nobody would ever look, like our thoughts… and He also knows the outward manifestations of who we are, like our behavior…yikes!!!

Before we went to Panama, the whole side of the Dieter family spent a week at the Beach in South Carolina. I loved it! The kids loved it! If it weren’t for the long drive, we would be going there often during the year. The sense of freedom is just lovely! The kids are pretty much independent. They were in a room across the hall from us with the cousins. There was a pool in the house. The beach was across the street. The kitchen was fully stocked so everyone could pretty much get their own breakfast and lunch by themselves, at their own pace. For dinner, we took turns cooking so no one had to be stuck in the kitchen every day.

At any rate, the only things we truly had to worry about on a daily basis were,

1. Who is going to set up camp at the beach today?

2. Am I going for a walk?

3. Am I going to read my book or take a nap?

We spent most of the time going in and out of the house back and forth from the beach. And I spent a lot of time lying down in my beach chair, under my umbrella… doing nothing… and loving it!

As I have mentioned, I am a… er… rather controlling person/Mother, so I always want to know where my sons are and what they are doing. I worry when I don’t know. So I do all I can to try to find out. That week at the beach, however, I realized that if I wanted to chill and enjoy to the fullest the gift that trip represented, I was going to have to let go. If I wanted to truly honor the blessing by delighting in it, I was going to have to trust my boys to do the right thing and be able to fend for themselves. So I did.

Half of the time I had no clue where they were at. Suddenly, I’ll see them next to me. Then, I’ll see them in the water. Next thing, they would be leaving back to the house. Later, they’d be back next to me under the umbrella, on the sand. Shortly after, they would go back to the house to grab a bite. They were coming and going all day, and I was not familiar with all their ways!

My point is that even a highly controlling Mom like me cannot keep up with every step her children take. No matter how many tactics I device to try to stay on top of things as far as their very moves… I fail at the task. It is just impossible! And…would I really want to know my children’s every move? Would I still love them the same?

The thing is, the Only One who is ever able to do that is the Lord. Our Heavenly Father is the Only One who is ever able to watch over all His children constantly, without ever having to let go.

Not only that, but in spite of knowing us, in spite of being familiar with ALL of our ways…in spite of discerning the reasons for my going out and my lying down, He still loves me! Like I said earlier… that’s unfathomable!

He truly loves me just as I am!

And my response to such an expression of such a magnificent love is complete awe… This past Sunday, we sang the Travis Cottrell version of one of my favorite Hymns, “Just as I am” written by Charlotte Elliott almost two centuries ago. This version contains a new stanza that absolutely touches my very soul and summarizes what I have been trying to say in this highly convoluted post:

I come broken to be mended
I come wounded to be healed
I come desperate to be rescued
I come empty to be filled
I come guilty to be pardoned
By the blood of Christ, the Lamb
And I'm welcomed with open arms
Praise God, just as I am

Even though you are familiar with all of my ways, you still call me Your Own…unfathomable!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Summer Meditations: He knows what we do and think... Oi!!!



I admit that I tried to group some verses together during this in-depth look at Psalm 139; however, I realized, it would not be much of an in-depth look if I did. Besides, the next few verses speak such volumes to me, that if I were to treat them as a group, the post would be unreadable.

So here I am, examining verse #2 in this powerful piece of God’s Word:

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

During the three weeks that the boys and I spent in Panama this summer, we only had a car for a few days. I rented it to go to a couple of places that were about two hours away from our base camp. The rest of the time, we hung around our little apartment near the center of my hometown. It is a joy to be close to things. We walked everywhere. But, because we don’t have a car when we are there, we sit and rise quite a bit every day.

From early in the morning, the activity begins: “Grant, can you go to the store and get some orange juice?” “Grant, can you go get some bread at the bakery?” “Mom, can you go get us some chocolate milk?” “Mom, can we go to that store, what’s it called?” “Guys, do you want to go to the movies this afternoon?” “how about ice cream?” “Can we get churros?” “Hey, let’s go back to that store, what’s it called?” The sitting and rising goes on and on and on. We rarely spend a day in which we just sit and go nowhere. And when we do stay home, there is the cleaning and the washing of the clothes, which is done BY HAND…the kids are getting pretty good at it, I have to say.

Anyway, the thing is that my sons were very active the whole time. Grant went by himself to run errands on a daily basis, often more than once! Being the kind of Mother that I am, I want to always keep track of what my boys are doing at all times. Actually, I’m considering inserting a GPS chip into their skins… but I have to admit, that I couldn’t tell you how many times they came and went, or how many times they/we sat and rose during the last three weeks, let alone during the course of all of their lives! But the Lord knows! And that is just amazing to me…

He knows their every move…OUR every move… He is there… always… everywhere… without a GPS chip inserted into our skins… that is unfathomable!

Verse 2 in Psalm 139 not only tells us that He knows our every move…it tells us He knows our every thought too! Now, that’s mind-blowing…and scary…

As a Mother, I’d love to know what my sons are thinking at all times. And the reason I’d like to know, is so I could control their thoughts. I know, I have issues. God knows their thoughts even before they have been formed into their minds! He knows MY thoughts. He knows all of my thoughts. He knows the good ones, the bad ones, and the ugly ones.

I am embarrassed and ashamed at the thought of My Lord knowing my thought life. But He gives me/us freedom. He gives us freedom to drown His guiding voice in the murky waters of our darkness, as we continue to have those thoughts. And usually, a head filled with thoughts directed by our unregulated heads lead to nothing good. They lead to fear, panic, shame, rebellion, blasphemy, isolation, anger, lust, jealousy, envy and all the darkness this world has to offer. But, He allows us to indulge in those thoughts until the Holy Spirit is sovereign in our soul and we surrender them to Christ, and set them at the foot of the Cross to be cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus!

Not until we let go of our grip on our thought life and fill our heads with the transforming power of Scripture and surround ourselves with all things good and worthy, our heads would not be liberated from the corroding action of a mind controlled by this world.

I would never be able to know my sons’ every move and every thought. I would never be able to fully control what they do or think. But they are in the care of the One Who Does; and He is Perfect, as so is His plan for them…and for me…and for us. In the meantime, let us remember:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. 
Philippians 4:8 8

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Summer Meditations: He Knows Me… O Dear!



Today, as I begin to explore Psalm 139 I can’t help to let out a big gasp when I read the first verse,

1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.

My Lord knows me… that is a wonderful, but terrifying thought… I love to think about the fact that He knows who I am and that He knows my name… you know? Like, He knows me enough not to forget about me and to recognize my number when I call… so He doesn’t press the silencing button or just plainly ignore the vibration on His heavenly phone when I send Him a text… but the thought of God knowing me the way this Psalm expresses it? Er…ahem…that is entirely a different situation.

He doesn’t only know me superficially. He has searched me! Do you know what that means? Have you ever searched something? I search all the time! Take a quick example:

-“Mom! Have you seen my __________ (fill in the blank with whatever you want)?”

-“No, I haven’t. Look for it.”

-“I’ve looked everywhere already. I can’t find it!”

Then, I begin the search. Depending on what it is, I usually have an idea of where it might be, because I have searched this house countless of times looking for everything from a missing, favorite sock to glasses, coins, toys, pencils, books, DVDs, candy, crackers, phones, keys, saxophones, IPods, headphones, chargers, video games, dogs, husbands and anything in between. There are places I don’t dare enter, like Dylan’s room…but there are others that I know so very well, I can even picture the contents in my mind even without truly searching, like the junk drawer(s).

Yes, I know what’s in them, because it is my junk, and I have searched in there endlessly for whatever. I open that drawer, and I search, which means, I basically empty it and look at everything and don’t leave any piece of junk unturned…until I usually find the specific piece of junk I’m looking for. I know that drawer. I know its contents. I know it’s full of junk. And I don’t particularly like it. I just keep it because I need a place to put all this collection of semi-useful, mostly useless things that I don’t necessarily want to throw away, but I don’t know what to do with at the moment… junk! I’m not fond of it. I don’t love it. I don’t think it is attractive. I would not let people see it open. I am actually ashamed of it…because I know what’s in it and I don’t want anyone to realize the mess it is…the mess I am…

Is that how God searches me?

(another gasp)

Is that what He gets to see when He does?

(I can’t even gasp anymore)

Is that what He thinks of me …?



I better just keep reading this Psalm… see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Summer Meditations: When the Clothes Don’t Seem to fit



By the way… on top of all the insecurities I struggle with regarding my sense of inadequacy due to my temperament and personality, I also struggle with insecurities about my weight…sigh…

I used to be skinny when I was young…now I’m not anymore… I am neither skinny nor young… I used to be able to shed pounds in days… now, it takes me weeks to lose one, if I’m lucky… and the first place I notice when the pounds pack up is in my clothes. I hate trying on a pair of jeans or a shirt I have not worn in a while because I know it won’t fit anymore. The very thought of the image of me trying to squeeze into a piece of clothing that has been sitting in my closet for a few months is terrifying. And inevitably, no matter how much I might love the particular garment…no matter how special it is… no matter how many wonderful memories the piece evokes in my soul… I discard it rather than trying it on and finding out it is too small…

Something similar happens when I think about my walk with the Lord. When I read about how the Almighty clothes us in His righteousness, I squirm. I squirm because I don’t think such a royal garment fits someone like me.

I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61: 10

No matter how much I delight in my God, I often, tend to discard the garments He has made for me because I have a hard time believing this divine robe is truly fitted to a sinner of my caliber.

How can He really adorn me as a bride if I am such a fraud…

The thing is that I am only a fraud in my eyes. I look at myself with the eyes of the world, rather than with the eyes of the Spirit. I have to see myself with the eyes of He who is greater than the world! (1 John 4: 4) It is time for me to be transformed by the renewing of my mind and stop conforming to the patterns of this world that only cause me to have a distorted perception of my own image. Instead, I need to pray for discernment, keep my eyes firmly on Christ, abide in His Word and trust Him so I can know the truth that will set me free! (Romans 12: 2/John 8: 31-32)

In order to help me with the process of renewing my mind and transforming my perspective so I can see my true self, I will spend a few days going over Psalm 139, one of my very favorite Psalms, one that contains profound truth about who I am to God… about who we are to Him!

So, if you’d like, let’s start by reading Psalm 139 in its entirety today. Then, we’ll begin going over it tomorrow, how is that? Maybe, together we can finally, if you are like me, go grab that Divinely-Made Robe we have been keeping in a remote corner of our closets, collecting moth holes, and put it on, ‘cause no matter what we might think…this one will surely fit!

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.


1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.

5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!

20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?

22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Summer Meditations: Insecurities



Do you ever feel insecure? I do… all the time. I struggle with self-doubt. I wrestle with a sense of inadequacy. I often battle feelings of inferiority. The fight becomes particularly intense while in the context of parenting, home-making and family. There are many voices in my head that scream at me all day things like: “You are the worst Mother in the world.” “You call yourself a wife?” “You are such a failure… you don’t even know how to treat your family like human beings!”

Thoughts like those are pretty much permanent residents in my mind. I even tell my kids that in the lottery of Mothers they really got cheated…

I cannot shake the feeling that I am messing up my kids’ lives. All around me there are better Moms. Why can’t I be one of them?

During our summer vacation, I blew up at my sons a number of times. I yelled at Dylan so much, the poor child told me his life is full of woe… “woe”… he actually used that word. I have no clue where he learned it, but he learned it well, and he utilized it in the right context…sigh…

Today, as I look back at our days in Panama, I see three weeks filled with exciting adventures, but also, days tainted by the consequences of a short temper that ignites and explodes at the slightest mishap… and that makes me feel ashamed…which causes my insecurity to sky-rocket… which, in turn, messes with my head some more… which, makes me angry with myself even more… which means, I am ready to blow up again at any, tiny thing the kids do… which makes the crazy cycle spin into eternity.

Why do I feel like that? I don’t know. I’m not a psychologist. I’m not an expert on the innerworkings of the human mind. But I think, insecurity has to do with fear. In my case, my bad temper and lack of self-control makes me fear that those around me are not going to want to be around me any longer. I fear I am not going to deserve their love… and that fear propels the boat of inadequacy so far out of reach that when I have moments of lucidity, the ship is already in mid ocean with no shore in sight.

Sigh…

The truth is, nobody deserves love…we are all sinners…there is nobody fully righteous in this world…

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 
Jeremiah 17: 9

As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one. Romans 3:10

However, for reasons that I don’t think I’ll ever understand, God does love us…as a matter of fact, He loved us first! (1 John 4: 19) He loves us even in the midst of our unlovability… He loves me…even though I am unlovable to my own eyes! He showers me with His abundant love and grace even though I am the most undeserving of His children. And that truth is what I have to hang on to. The truth of His unending love is what must bring me back to the beach…back to the ground, so I’m not adrift in the ocean of my self-destructive insecurities.

Fear must disappear from my heart, because:

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4: 18

I want to be made perfect in His love…the only love that is unfailing on the undeserving.

Therefore, rather than listening to the voices in my head that scream at me all day about how horrible a Mother, Wife, Friend, etc. I am, I must dive into the Word and memorize the truth that gently, but firmly tells me,

…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

No matter how I feel about myself, the truth is that

… neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Because,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16



And that is what I need to cling on to so I can wave good bye to my insecurities as I stop listening to the voices of the enemy, and finally tune into the Voice of Truth!