Monday, March 29, 2010

Recognizing the little gifts...

holy experience

Nothing deep today...just posting additions to my list of 1000 gifts that I've learned to recognize over the past week--many of which are little things I have too often taken for granted.

116. My bread machine paddle being found (in the compost heap in the yard!)

117. The crocuses on the side of the house

118. Moose tracks ice cream

119. Pizza

120. Mozzarella cheese

121. Cheddar cheese (yes, I love cheese)

122. Robins in the yard

123. The mirror reflection on the neighbor’s pond.

124. The wonderful, inspiring, and confirming series of messages I listened to last week.

125. A free downloadable copy of A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research

126. Learning about how George Washington Carver walked with God

127. Buds on the lilac

128. A family picture that is newer than 10 years old.

129. And 2 Corinthians 2:12 - And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Order my days...

On a recent post, I shared how God wants to teach me to meet Him in the stillness and I believe this is going to be the answer to my prayer that He order my this alone will prevent me from getting lost by moving forward.

God gave me confirmation of this the other day, and the story is so beautiful and encouraging and powerful that I want to share that encouragement with you all as well.

Most of us learned about George Washington Carver in history class. We know that he was a slave who ended up inventing hundreds of uses for the peanut and singlehandedly impacted the agriculture and economy of the south. He was so brilliant that Thomas Edison begged him to come work with him, offering him the astronomical sum of $100,000 a year--an offer he refused.

What most of our history books probably didn't tell us, however, is that he was a Christian who gave God all the glory for his discoveries and inventions.

The other day I was reading on Billye Brim's website, and she shared some amazing quotes from a book about him. I want to share those as well...I think you'll see how they exemplify what God is calling me to do.

The excerpt is from The Man Who Talks With Flowers, by Glenn Clark:
"Here is what I call 'God's Little Workshop',” said Dr. Carver… [His laboratory.] "No books are ever brought in here, [except the Bible].…Here I talk to the little peanut and it reveals its secrets to me. I lean upon the 29th verse of the first chapter of Genesis.…What other materials do we need than that promise?" (p17.)

"There is literally nothing that I ever wanted to do…that I asked the blessed Creator to help me to do, that I have not been able to accomplish.…It's all very simple, if one knows how to talk with the Creator. It is simply seeking the Lord and finding Him…He said in the Proverbs, 'Those that seek me early shall find me.' So I just follow His advice and find Him.…All my life I have risen regularly at four o'clock and have gone into the woods and talked with God. There He gives me my orders for the day…I listen to what God has to say to me. After my morning's talk with God I go into my laboratory and begin to carry out His wishes for the day." (pp 21, 22.)

"Years ago, I went into my laboratory and said, 'Dear Mr. Creator, please tell me what the universe was made for?'

"The great Creator answered, 'You want to know too much for that little mind of yours. Ask for something more your size.'

"Then I asked, 'Dear Mr. Creator, tell me what man was made for.' Again the great Creator replied, 'Little man, you still are asking too much. Cut down the extent of your request and improve the intent.'

"So then I asked, 'Please, Mr. Creator, will you tell me why the peanut was made?'

"’That's better, but even then it's infinite. What do you want to know about the peanut?’"

…"And then the Great Creator taught me how to take the peanut apart and put it together again. And out of this process have come forth all these products." For over an hour Dr. Carver drew forth from his homemade box of samples a continuing procession of face powder, printer's ink, butter, shampoo, creosote, dyes, etc….(p 34.)

I am reminded of the parable of the talents that Jesus told. Here is a man who was, indeed, faithful with what he had been given. Very faithful!

But perhaps the most encouraging part of his story is that there was nothing special about him. He wasn't brilliant, with an IQ off the charts and an education from Yale and Harvard. Rather, his God was brilliant. His God is brilliant, and He is my God as well. George Washington Carver merely discovered what I am longing to learn to do... to take our orders for the day from God.

His story illustrates in such real way what God showed me about being His slave. Not only does it mean freedom, but it also means glory and hope for our lives.

Lord, I want to know this in a much deeper way! Teach me to meet You in the hear Your voice so clearly that there is no hesitation...that I may be able to walk the path You have chosen for me and bring glory to You.

Monday, March 22, 2010

His touch in the stillness...

holy experience

My list of 1000 gifts has received quite a few new additions during the past week. Most of them are rather personal and/or involve others, so today I'm going to share #109.

As you know from my post earlier this month, God has been calling me to let Him teach me how to meet Him in the stillness. I'm still waiting on the full revelation, but in the meantime, He keeps showing me little bits and pieces of why this lesson is so important.

On Friday, one of my online blogging friends shared some more on her own experience of learning to meet God in the stillness. Jewel was doing what we all do...asking God questions and looking for assurance that she was where God wanted her...and God reminded her of a memory:
I was sitting on a porch overlooking a pond. I felt what I saw displayed; stagnant and unmoving. I begged God for something that revealed that I was where I needed to be. It was then He met with me as He drew my eyes to a spot in the pond.

Suddenly the pond was set in motion when something lighted the surface. At that moment, from that one touch, the waters started rippling out. As I watched their path I saw something that was absolutely stunning. The water rippled across the reflection of a brilliant red-leaf tree, creating a beautiful mosaic on the water.

She shared what God spoke to her about that beautiful picture. (I encourage you to go read it, for it is powerful and beautiful.) But God showed me yet another beautiful and powerful lesson in the pond's ripples. This lesson is my gift #109.

That touch that causes the is His touch. We are the water. And when it ripples through us in such a clear way, it touches those around us and makes them look to see what caused the ripple...they look to Him.

On the other hand, if we are a rushing, raging river, and He touches us, the ripples are lost in the torrent of us. Those whose lives we touch can't tell the difference between Him and us.

This is why learning to be still and wait before Him is so crucial. Only when we learn to be still are the ripples of His touch undiluted. Only then can they be easily felt and seen by a world that needs Him so much.

Lord, my heart yearns even more for this stillness!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Outside the box...

It's Gratitude Monday, but before I add to my list, I want to share something.

The past few days were an amazing weekend in several ways...some of them quite different than I expected. That's not a bad thing, though. I find myself realizing, in a new way (again), how walking with God is a step by step kind of thing. A constant discovery of new things. A never-ending learning process.

So often we talk about how we can't put God in a box...yet I think we put ourselves (and how He can use us) in a box just as often. We call it our comfort zone. The area outside that box is filled with fear, nervousness, and uncertainty. Not fun. So of course we'd rather stay in our comfort zone.

But what if we've put everything outside our comfort zone in a box as well? We've taken that vast expanse of space where God dwells and put it in this bigger box and called it "stepping outside our comfort zone." The uncomfortable zone.

But there's a big problem with our notions and our boxes. (Probably more than one, actually.) Simply put, our comfort zone often isn't always all that comfortable. In fact, when God says "move out" it can get distinctly uncomfortable. On the other hand, moving outside our box doesn't have to be uncomfortable.

I'm wondering if all those times when we've stepped outside our box and found fear and nervousness were times when we stepped out on our own initiative, instead of God's. Or perhaps, we stepped out according to God's leading, but not His timing. When Samuel anointed the kings of Israel, he never did it at the moment when they were called to actually step onto the throne. God was declaring His purpose and direction, but the timing had not yet come.

Do you see what I'm getting at? Throughout the Bible, God often said, "I have called you to _____." And then, sometimes years later would come the command, "All right, the time is now."

I'm afraid that many of us, today, forget to wait for the now part of the command...and so we step outside of our box on our own initiative and think that God has called us to be uncomfortable and fearful and nervous and confused about what we should be doing. We've somehow come to expect that following God "outside the box" is supposed to be a nerve-wracking uncomfortable thing...and I have no idea why, when God continuously says that His ways are filled with peace and joy!

The reality that I'm learning is that there is a path outside my comfort zone that is nothing like that preconceived uncomfort zone idea. Instead of fear, there is peace. Instead of nervousness, there is trust. Instead of uncertainty there again, and the certainty of knowing that God knows what He's doing and it really doesn't matter if I don't.

What's even more amazing is how, when God leads you one small step at a time, you don't necessarily even realize that you've stepped outside your box. Looking back at this weekend, I now see that this is exactly what God did...and I didn't realize.

I heard Him call me to do one thing, and He was right there. I didn't think much of it, I simply obeyed.

I asked Him for direction, to speak to me, to tell me what to do. All I heard was the four words, "I will use you."

I walked the path He had laid out for me over the weekend, anticipating something great...something amazing...something that would wow me with the glory of Him. I hoped for another prophecy from the special speaker. (Last year's came true in the 12 months since he gave it.) I longed for revelations that would stir my spirit.

I'm receiving my revelation now, as I look back and realize that all those small steps He led me along...the many moments of not receiving what I had hoped for...were instead the first along a path I've never walked before. A path that I once thought would fit those uncomfort zone ideas, but turned out to be nothing more than simply walking with Him and obeying.

Will it always be like this? Should it always be like this? I think so, if we are truly walking in the Spirit, for the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Comfort...from the Comforter. And He lives outside my boxes.

holy experience

Continuing my list of 1000 gifts...

87. The Holy Spirit

88. This revelation of what it’s like to step outside the box with Him

89-94. Four specific gifts over the weekend

95. That my husband calls me “Beautiful”

96. That my delight in him somehow still grows, even after 17 years of loving him

97. Blueberries that really are sweet in my grocery store

98. Grass turning green again

99. The carpet for my living room that I finally found…on sale!

100. Something else. ::grins:: (Can't post everything on the Internet!)

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, March 08, 2010

More thoughts on gratitude...

holy experience

It's Monday--my choice to start my week with gratitude instead of complaining.

As I count toward 1000, I'm realizing why Ann found this process of counting God's gifts so life-changing. You know those times we've all shared in church, or before dinner at Thanksgiving, where everyone takes a turn thanking God? Sometimes we state the obvious big things, and sometimes we dig deep for something not-so-obvious. At least, that's what I usually do.

The thing about this list of 1000 gifts is that I used up all of those ideas in the first 30 or so. I moved onto more specific things in my life...and used them all up in the next 30.

Now that I'm up to the still-small-number of 73, and as I stick to my commitment to not repeat gifts, I'm discovering the amazing thing about this exercise--it forces me to open my eyes and look for the good things God has put in my life today. This week. It forces me to pause, to take my eyes off of my desires and my needs, and to be willing to notice and acknowledge what I already have. Or to notice what He's giving me as He gives it.

It also causes me to look and wait until I notice gifts that I have never noticed before...things that I have always taken for granted. The simple things that make life beautiful.

I'm continuing my list...but please do join me in the comments...what is one gift He has given you today, that you did not have yesterday? Or if that's too difficult to find at the moment, what is one gift He gave you this past week, that you didn't have the week before?

73. Fresh waves of hope that are filling both my husband and I this morning.

74. God's presence in worship yesterday and...

75. The word He gave us afterward and...

76. The commitment that my church family and I entered into, which means good things are going to keep happening!

77. Bananas and peanut butter (::smiles::)

78-85. The eight grandparents whose pictures are on my wall, because of the legacy of staying faithful to their marriage vows 'till death. I am awed that God has given my children this legacy from all of their grandparents and great-grandparents.

86. Isaiah 43:4

What gifts has God given you... today? Please share them!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

In the stillness...

I'd like to admit something.

God has been calling me for about three weeks now to meet Him in the stillness. And I don't know how.

I know how to meet Him in giving my heart and mind and soul and body in my mind is thinking and meaning the words of the song, my hands are busy reaching for him or playing the notes on the keyboard, my feet are busy pressing the sustain pedal with one and balancing on the there's nothing left of me to get distracted and pull me away.

I've learned how to meet Him in my keeping my mind thinking and wondering about what I read, and my fingers busy typing as fast as they can and slowing down my thoughts in the process...typing out what God shows me as I ask Him questions about what I'm reading.

But I do not know how to meet Him in the stillness. How do I meet Him when my hands are doing nothing? How do I still my mind and shut out the bullet-train of thoughts that never seems to find a station?

I tried to get down on my knees every morning, just to wait. I tried it several mornings and it just didn't seem like I was meeting Him. Then God showed me that, just like everything else, this is not something I can do on my own strength. It's another thing that Katie simply cannot do. In fact, in my quest to "do what He called me to do," I somehow let the entire week go by without getting into His word once. Which meant my heart lost its tuning fork and couldn't hear Him all that well.

Yeah...that's how successful living in my own strength is.

Yet He called me to do it! Therefore, it is another thing that He is going to do through me.(Gal. 2:20)

I also tried what had "worked" for another woman. Lord, I begged, You did this for her, so You will for me, right? You don't show partiality!

After several days of that, He finally whispered, "That's right. I do not show partiality. But I also love to do new things. I want to teach you this lesson in a new way. A way that is different from her way. A way that is different from your way. It will be My way. For you." So I went back to what I knew He had called me to do...spending time with Him first, as the firstfruits of my time.

.~*~. , .~*~. , .~*~.

This morning I ran down my list of inspirational blogs that I lightly follow...skimming, as usual, to see if God wants to speak to me through any of them. And today, He definitely did.

It began:
A couple years ago, I lost my daughter at Disneyland.

We were in a large group: six adults and four children and we all stopped to look at a fountain.

But Hope, six years old at the time, kept walking. She didn’t intentionally wander off exerting defiance or trying to be naughty. She simply kept going in the same direction we’d all been walking a few minutes before.
I felt that prick and knew I had to read the rest, though I mistakenly thought it was because no mother can easily read of a child getting lost without wanting to also read that the child was found. But no sooner had I clicked over to read the rest of the story, than I felt God speaking to me.

We walk forward, right?

Jobs, mothering, being attentive wives, writing, reading, working on our relationships. We move forward.

Call the doctor back, pick up my daughter from school, wash the dog in the upstairs bathtub, pick up my daughter from school again, email my friend from church, email my friend from high school.

I move forward. Almost blindly...And then I’m lost.

You see...just as Sarah explains, I too have often been "getting lost while walking forward." I know that. That's why I've been asking God for quite a while now to "order my days." I know my days are not walked out minute by minute as He would have me walk them. I'm still asking Him to order my days and teach me how to walk with Him.

Read the rest of her post, if you want. (It's on (In)Courage, instead of her regular blog.)

But for me, I felt God whispering that this is why He is going to show me how to meet Him in the stillness. Because, throughout my day, I need to stop. Pause. Be silent before Him to listen for His voice, seek His direction, and lift my heart in the praise and gratitude that re-invites Him into my day.

And I have to say that, right now, I'm eager. I'm waiting on Him, 'cause I can't get there on my own...but I can't wait 'till He takes me there. Into the stillness...

Monday, March 01, 2010

I'm grateful for...

holy experience

This is my second Monday blog post dedicated to being thankful. This blog post explained 1000 gifts, so read that first, if you want to. Then join your own thanks to mine--on your blog, in your own private list, or in the comments here.

So... to continue counting 1000 gifts that my Lord and Savior has given me...

55. violins

56. pianos

57. guitars

58. that my children love learning to play them

59. icicles melting

60. that our dog got found by someone nice last night

61. electric washers

62. electric dryers

63. mail carriers

64. soft warm sweaters

65. quiet mornings

66. hyacinth bulbs blooming on my table and filling the house with their scent

67. the hawks that sit along the road and...

68. the stream that winds along the road on my way home

69. the way the sunset broke through the clouds

70. the variety of foods available in American grocery stores

71. coupons

72. that my dear husband is almost home.
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