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Monday, July 18, 2011

My New Favorite Place

I have a thankful heart. This book I’ve been reading really is helping me to savour the beautiful in my life. One of my favorite places/experiences is to run on the trails in the trees at Cultus Lake. I am so thankful for my dear running partner, Sarah, for introducing me to them and loving going there with me (she is also the one who lent me this book to read!). So what I have been learning about the last few days started on the drive back from Cultus Lake after a run last week. In that drive I began to learn more about TRUST.

As I was driving, feeling fabulous from my run in the “forest”, I was simply overcome by a strong sense of trust: trust in my God. I experienced trust in Him because I knew that He would care for me no matter what happens in the days ahead. It was comforting. It parallels the same experience I have with my earthly father; I know that my dad believes in me no matter what path of life I choose to take. I can see it in his eyes, hear it in his words, and sense it in his hugs. My dad loves his girl, his daughter, and I can trust in that love. However, even more than my earthly dad loves me, my Heavenly Father loves me so much more. I trust with a knowing trust, that God believes so deeply in the work of my life because I am His child and He is so deeply invested in me. When I understand this it compels me to practice trust in Him and to feel safe in that trust.

It was a day or two later that the book I am reading, 1000 gifts, turned from talking about giving thanks in everything to look for the small and wonderful blessings through out the day, to talking about trust. And she coherently linked these two concepts in such a way that as the pages speak on and on about trust, I had to stop and think: “my God is speaking to me about trust this week!” Why trust? Why is God speaking to me about trust? I don’t know. But He has also helped me to experience it this past week. And that is a beautiful place to be.

Listen to the words of Ann Voskamp.

Thanks [to God] is what builds trust [in Him]. (p150)

Much of the worry in my own life has been a failure to believe…a wariness to thank and trust the love hand of God….

I make soup and I bake bread and I know my supreme need is joy in God and I know I can’t experience deep joy in God until I deep trust in God. I shine sinks and polish through to the realization that trusting God is my most urgent need. If I deep trusted God in all the facets of my life, wouldn’t that deep heal my axiety, my self-condemnation, my soul holes? (p149)

If God didn’t withhold from us His very own Son, will God withhold anything we need? If trust must be earned, hasn’t God unequivocally earned our trust with the bark on the raw wounds, the thorns pressed into the brow, your name on the cracked lips? How will He not also graciously give us all things He deems best and right? He’s already given the incomprehensible. (p155)

Now I don’t know why these words and experiences of trust have come to me, but I do know it is a concept and an experience I haven’t explored much previously. Perhaps it follows that I’ve cried out to God to bless me and He replies, “give thanks and trust in me and you will see your blessings already present, and you will see your abundant blessings to come.” I invite you to explore trust in our good God together with me and discover one of my new favorite places.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Psalm 139 and then some

If you don't already know that I would love to write a non-fiction book, today should clarify that intention! It's a lengthy post, but Mmmm life is too good not to share :)

Today I read again Psalm 139. It is on my reading track for June 21, but I have fallen behind and so I read it a few days ago. I pick up my bible again. I admit my moments in the bible and in prayer have been sparse these days. But I revisit this Psalm. It is a good one. Let me share God’s words and my own.

O Lord you have examined my heart and you know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away.

My God is so incredibly present in my life, even in the days when I scarcely acknowledge His existence. He takes my heart on as His own. He knows what vies for my time. He knows what challenges my balance. He knows the struggles of my mind and the struggles of my hands. He knows that which I don’t take time to think about because I don’t want to elucidate the thought. He knows what breaks my heart and He sees the simple joys of life that bless my soul. My God is present in my workday, He is present in my trail run, He is present when I scramble to make supper, He is present when I kiss my husband goodnight.

You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD.

My God charts my path. He charts this path that looks so questionable to me. He charts this path that doesn’t make sense. And why is this good? This is good because it means the God that controls the laws of the universe, is guiding my trajectory. It is good because it means that when I just don’t seem to know about the future I don’t have to worry about having the answers; when I feel lost I can know that I am never lost because my path is determined by the One who breathed human life into existence.

You both precede and you follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head.

God wants to bless me. Over and over the last few months God has spoken in whispers, in steady voices, in strong resonations: I want to bless you, Cheryl, my child! My grandmother said to me, in front of the whole congregation, at my baptism: Your God will never leave you or forsake you. My God has preceded me. And I have the confidence, the assurance that He will follow me into the lives I will touch. So I ask tonight of my God, “Pour Your blessings into my life! I open my arms and I look to the heavens and I ask You to rain Your blessings in and through me. Saturate me. Soak me with your blessings that anyone who sees me will see that I have been blessed. Let me drip with your merciful blessings.” I thank my God for His desire to bless me; I think myself small and then I remind myself of course I am small, I am a child, but I am GOD’S child.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know!

How I struggle with my friends who battle infertility. It doesn’t make sense, does it? But even though God has my path mapped out and knows my heart and wants to bless me, what that looks like, is too incomprehensible.

I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; If I go down to the place of the dead you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there you hand will guide me and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night- but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.

No wonder God’s ways don’t make sense. God can penetrate the darkness. Darkness cannot be dark when God is present, and God is present with me wherever I go.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous- and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Oh the preciousness of life in the womb! At this I cry out that God would knit a child in my womb, a child that I can love and raise to love God! I love to teach and I long to watch my children learn to love their Jesus as their Savior. I long for children that, even with my awful singing voice, I can teach to sing God’s praises. I long to have children that can themselves teach me, their mother, about God’s love and His simple joys and blessings. I long for children that will show me what really matters.

I pause. I get teary eyed here. I know I want to be a mom, but as I think about the day I got to spend with my niece and my nephew, and the joy and curiosity of my 3 year old nephew and the preciousness of these vital years for him to learn, when I think of this and the family (sandwich) hug Ryan and I gave him before bed, and when I put my words on paper, well, I really know I want to be a mom.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

There is much for me in the present day. Time marches on month by month. And over these months blessing fill me. I thank God for these moments of opportunity to remind myself why I want to be a mom. In the loss and the waiting, I haven’t taken time to listen to my heart, my mom-heart. Not being a mom, I can forget what compels me, because I get locked in the world without children. It is easier to live in that world. Indeed, it is the world I have lived in for 29 years and it a world that hasn’t disappointed me. It has not disappointed me. Oh the blessings I have received in my little life!!! I am so thankful for my beautiful husband of 9 years. I have a marriage united in friendship, adventure, love, respect, and a mutual love for God our Saviour. I am so thankful for my awesome community. I have shared already about the joys of relationship in this place of Chilliwack and beyond. Similarly, I am thankful for my great relationships with my family. As we came home from Okotoks we both felt this compelling desire to spend as much time as possible with our family. I am so thankful for my wonderful job. Oh how blessed I am to have opportunity to receive not 1 but 2 University degrees. I am so thankful for my education and for my opportunity to be (hopefully!) a good leader at work to my coworkers, and to make a difference in the lives of my patients. I wait to be a mom, but oh as I wait the life of today is lush with blessings if I take time to look at them.

I am reading this book 1000 gifts by Ann Koskamp. It’s all about looking at the ordinary moments in life and seeking out the beautiful in them. We are surrounded by moments of wonder if we choose to look for them. Life is made up of ordinary moments sprinkled with extraordinary. Capture those moments by living in them and loving them.

So on that note I thank God for the moment yesterday where I paused on the pathway to watch the leaves flutter beautifully in the wind. They danced on their short stems dazzling me. Simple. Beautiful. Ordinary.

And so, it is good to reflect on ever wise scripture (oh to meet David in heaven!), it is good to remember why I want to be a mom, it is good to look at the blessings granted me thus far, and it is good to look for the simple blessings of today.