Monday, June 20, 2011

On Prayer, Relationship & A Strong Tenor Lead

(This post has been sitting in drafts for a bit. It didn’t feel complete, and I also couldn’t release it , so I’ve returned to it almost every day. This afternoon, I pondered a Father’s Day entry and began perusing Daddy memories in my mind. And finally, this post found completion. The reason I had to wait was evident. God’s timing is perfect.)

I followed a recent online discussion about Prayer Life.

I feel my spirit pull away from that phrase a bit.

Common phrases begin to impart their own meanings over time. We lock on to what a thing looks like and how it functions and can forget the deeper truths.

‘Prayer life,’ for instance, is a living organism that grows and changes and is active.

I sometimes long for a rewording so that the term would grab my attention as it should, not immediately throw my mind into a conquered pattern.

The online discussion concerned balancing one's prayer life and led me to these thoughts.

Too much of my spiritual journey has been focused on the “do-ings” of my life.

Too little time given to the “be-ing”.

God IS. And He asks us to BE His. The schedule, timing, clock, list, plan… are not wrong at all. They are fine. They just aren’t IT.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the methods…

Prayer is relationship. And when we confine relationship to method or schedule, suffocation often results.

I’ve commented before about my maternal grandparents. One of the safest places I can remember is their home.
A few memories of their household:
Unrushed. Lots of sitting and being together. No schedule. We played. Games, dolls, crosswords. I never one day had the thought, “How do I act like a better granddaughter?” There was no list or process in my brain. I was their granddaughter. And I was beloved. I knew this by the way I was welcomed and embraced. I knew this because they had time. They expressed their love for me verbally and with actions. With their facial expressions. And the way they talked about me when I was out of the room. They worked hard to have my favorite foods available. They were profoundly interested in my stories.

And I loved being with them.

They were a concrete example of safe, cherished relationship. They were practicing, Christ's love.

But, how easy it can be for me to not experience Christ this way.

My prayer focus can become: What I Am Saying. And, How Long I am Spending. And, What is Expected of Me.


How does God look as I approach Him? What is His response to me? Where is He sitting? Where is Jesus? Where are His eyes? On me? Looking into the distance?

To keep this relationship ALIVE in my broken brain and heart—I have begun intentionally taking God with me to a “place” I never have.

An intense moment of conflict. A bad parenting moment. In the middle of a pity party. Extreme joy or raucous laughter.

Not just desperate pleas (though, He certainly hears and accepts those). But also, a considering of where He is in those moments. I am choosing to open new doors in my perception and be more deeply intimate with God.

Not just in moments I have patterned to be Holy. But every moment allowed to birth holiness because of His Presence.

I had to work at this. I couldn’t picture Him at first in stressful, difficult circumstances. When I felt like I was failing.

I asked for help. Faltering words.

“Lord, where do you sit when I talk to you? Do you sit? When I’m messing up, or in pain, where do you stand? Do you touch me? Can you help me see you in my mind’s eye?”

This visualization became gradually more distinct.

The intercession, the confession, the listening…grew in authenticity as I became more aware of Who He Is. Where He Is. (everywhere, all the time…)

And How He Loves. The two are directly proportional.

God is Love.

Change was effected. There is no other way.

We cannot control, or direct or manipulate the outpourings or effects as a result of being with God.

The outpourings (whether they are ever seen by human eyes or not) will Glorify and Testify where it matters. He will see to that.

We should only continue to pursue him, pressing in.

Seeing Him. Being seen.

A personal relationship with Christ. It thrives, grows and never stops giving, filling and renewing.

El Roi, praise—

(And there it was. That phrase. ‘Personal relationship with Christ’
What to say to honor you, Dad? Just this.
Everything to me now, is just what you told me it would be.Christ in me, in you.
Is All. And promises our family Forever. Together. With Him.

You consistently testified and taught that Knowing God far surpassed knowing about Him. In my ongoing cycle of relationship with God, my heart reawakens to this truth and thrives again in His Love, over and over again. Each time more authentic than the last.

This Truth that can never be conquered, but always gives from an unreachable depth, has been a soundtrack of my life.

What sweet awareness to realize,your voice still carries the melody.

The melody, of this, most resonant of Life Songs.
I continue to pursue the One you told me loves me most.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day--)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

A Time to Remember

Some seasons in life meander. Some just come crashing in.

Both speak Him, when I listen.

Faith Quest: God brought me to Revelation 3 and the church of Philadelphia just before Faith Quest began. The church in Philadelphia was few in number. Weak. Bearing wounds and constant persecution from the “religious” and “righteous”. The “righteous” who had more money and more “solid” history. But were missing something.

“I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”

This was God’s Word to His people. Not greater success. Or less struggle.

His love and adoration for his enduring people. Will be acknowledged.

What sweet, sweet assurance. What we see isn’t It. How He loves, Is.

We welcomed youth from different parts of Uganda and a team of 6 American visitors to this year's Faith Quest.

The theme was 'Under Construction.' And it was a great year. Learning. Prayer. Celebration. Worship and New Life.

All because of His Love for us.

Thank you to everyone who prayed us through this endeavor. Your prayers were answered in remarkable ways—good weather, open hearts, Glory to God.

May 5th, 2011: I never expected to feel this way, but I was dreading turning forty. Four Zero. (pause) Still not too happy about it. I can not explain it or analyze it or even apologize for it. Just wasn’t ready for those numbers on my cake.

So my dear family and sweet friends creatively spoke the truth (the number '35' was on my cake with five tiny candles hid behind) and it brought my heart such joy. My sweet girl works hard each year to mark my day with beauty. This year she baked my cake in an outdoor brick oven. The smiling faces of exuberance of my family made me so grateful that I have been graced another year to know them. Even if I’m not so thrilled with the actual numbers. Another year is a very good thing.

Keeping Moment: I was born on this day a few years ago but now share the birth day with my third born. Third born from my womb—third born-again in the Lord.

Nothing compares to sweet, simple faith expressed in the words, “I believe.”

“Jesus is the Son of God.”

He really has always known this but with frightening joy we will see it proven in his journey. As I hear his confession, experience his resolute decision and celebrate with the angels over his covenant love with Christ, I know the years ahead will rock him more than he could ever know. But this anchor holds.

He ponders deep and long over everything. And every so often, when I least expect it the depth bowls over and spills out into our awareness leaving me breathless and grateful.
I know my offspring well but only God knows their inmost beings. And He is there. Ever there. Loving, knowing, guiding and saving. Precious Savior—thank you.

Broken Hearts: Home from Faith Quest with exhaustion weighing heavy and a Facebook status alerts us to sorrow among our Tyler, Texas family. A fatal car accident has taken the life of dear friend.

I remember the first time we met. Jeff M. was carrying Cade in a baby carrier. Alicia was carrying food. I was pregnant with Isaac. We were at the Burnett’s for care group. I thought Alicia was beautiful. And she immediately began asking questions. About my pregnancy. About Uganda. About my life.

She asked me if I needed anything.


She always asked if I needed anything.

We talked about baby needs and she said she would get some stuff together for me.

Boxes and boxes of clothes and blankets and toys.

Playgroups. Lunches. So many hugs.

Shopping. Packing. Watching my kids.

Laughing. Crying.

We are blessed when friends come along side us and, despite our frequent and long separations, open their lives and hearts to us. Jeff and Alicia were such friends.

She sent an email just after we arrived back in Uganda this time. Letting me know she missed me. Asking if I needed anything. (smile) And saying that she loved me.

I responded to her email. Lots of news from here. My love and constant prayers.

It was the last communication we would have. If I had known that, would I have said something different?

Our hearts are with Jeff, Jeron, & Cade daily as they walk through the grief of losing Alicia. We long to do more.

Valley of the shadows: In the wake of grieving with the Morrisons we hear of other friends and families facing loss. A young man passes quietly in his sleep, a Dad placed in hospice care while the family gathers, traumatic accidents shattering hearts and hopes.

Tornadoes. Earthquakes. Volcanoes.

A woman is assaulted just outside our fence.

Weighty. Heavy happenings.

And that empathetic weight makes the daily walk more cumbersome.

The daily facts of no electricity. The unused washer and dryer that would make it all so much easier. Homeschooling three active boys, on my own. Pre-algebra with Kinley.

The assaults on ministry here—lies. Deception. Brokeness.

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May YOUR UNFAILING LOVE rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:20-22

Each moment reminding me—
Beauty and pain coexist.
I should fear neither. Embrace both.

For everything He can make them.

“I know the plans I have for you,”

“To give you a future and a hope”

Precious Lord. Come quickly.