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!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Summer Meditations



Well…I’m back… I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last wrote a post. I was supposed to write about my surrendering to God in the small things of the mundane. Life got in the way, however, and time slipped out of my hands, and now I sit here, a month later, trying to gather my thoughts.

My goal was to remain aware of God’s presence in the every-day-non-transcendental-moments of life… and record it. Although, I did not record it, I did try to remain aware. I saw God’s hand in what I experienced these last month and I tried to stay in a frame of mind that would allow me to realize that it is all a gift from Him. As we left on our trips, I always made sure we prayed and recognized the gift that we were about to receive. I tried to keep that attitude in front of the kids so we could continue with a grateful mind every time we embarked in something exciting.

I tried to hit the pause button every time I could so I could be in the moment even if just for a moment, and say thanks.

I paused every time I saw a magnificent sunset or sunrise. I paused when the ocean waves caressed my feet. I paused when I saw my kids laughing and having a good time. I paused when I was able to sit back and take a nap. I paused when I tasted something really delicious. I paused when I realized someone near me just needed to talk. I paused when I faced darkness. I paused when I felt the heat. I paused when the lights came back on. I paused when there was nothing to eat. I paused when we rode on an old, beat up bus. I paused when I got to rent a nice car. I paused while we walk the busy streets. I paused in the lazy, quiet nights. I paused when we said hello! I paused when we cried goodbye.

And for it all, I did my best to offer praise and thanksgiving…

I can’t deny that I was distracted most of the time. I can’t deny I lost patience often. I can’t deny that I was not godly always. But I am thankful for all that I experienced, especially for the fact that even though I was distracted, impatient and harsh…at least I was aware. I noticed. I was able to be in the moment.

God’s grace is sufficient, and His love covers a multitude of sins…even mine…

Now, I pray I can continue with my summer meditations as the season rushes to a close. It has been quite a ride and I have to take time to process it as I gear up for the fall. I hope my meditations are pertinent to those who read them, at least if only to remind us the need to be in the moment even if just for a moment. Talk to you soon!