Peek-a-boo

Khloe and I have been playing a lot of peek-a-boo lately.  I’ll hide behind a blanket, pop out and growl like a lion or make some kind of silly sound that sends her into hysterics.  We get such a kick out of it that I’ll keep doing it over and over and over again, trying to elicit that baby belly laugh that is one of the sweetest sounds ever created until my cheeks ache from grinning.  One of the neatest things is seeing how she has now begun to realize that I’m still there behind the blanket.

Did you know that there’s a technical term for Peek-a-boo?  Yes, leave it to us to give peekaboo a psychological name.  I wonder if there’s a named syndrome for lacking peekaboo skills?  The technical term for peekaboo is “object permanence.”  Object permanence is one’s ability to understand that an object still exists even though it isn’t visible.

After Jesus was resurrected, Thomas said he wouldn’t believe it was really true unless he saw and touched the wounds on Jesus’s hands and side for himself.  Eight days later, Christ appeared and told Thomas to put his finger into his hands and put his hand into his side, telling him, “Do not disbelieve, but believe” (John 20:27).  Thomas shouted back “My Lord and my God!”  To which Jesus replied, “Have you believed because you have seen me?  Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Are you believing God even when he is not visibly present to you?  Through the periods of drought, are you seeking him and believing him still?  For a good crop to grow, it must endure a dry period.  We are to know our Savior always, not just in the times when His presence is manifest and obvious (how much faith does that require?), but we voraciously seek him in and out of season, knowing that he’s still there.  God doesn’t disappear, and neither should we.  If we are active in our faith only when He’s manifest, we pop in and out of consciousness and miss out on the beauty of relationship.

What if you were stoked on a new song and downloaded it, only to find that the music kept cutting out…on, off, on, off, on, off.  Would you be able to enjoy the song?  Would you ever listen to it?  Would it be meaningful at all to you?  Would you share it?  The Christian walk is not meant to be a few pretty notes smattered on a page.  Your relationship with your Heavenly Father is a masterpiece of unfathomable quality, with chords and harmonies and nuances that are perfectly and uniquely composed as a love letter of grace to you, orchestrated for His utmost glory.  If we only listen when the high notes hit, we miss the romance of the song.

Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” And verse 6 says that “without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

Believing that God exists is one thing.  Seeking him though he is not seen is another.  We don’t forget Him the second that we don’t see him because we are not babies anymore.  We’re done with peek-a-boo.  We get the whole “object permanence” thing.  We understand that drawing near to God also means seeking Him, and for that we are rewarded.  What’s the reward?  THE SONG!  The relationship.  The symphony of seeing His hand at work, of resting in the grace bath that He’s drawn for us, of being sanctified as we sit in awe of the timbre of His majesty.  

What good is belief without pursuit?  And, if we are not in pursuit, do we truly believe?

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth….that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.  Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘in him we live and move and have our being.'” Acts 17:26-27

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Divine Appointments

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I am so happy to be home.

Last week was one of the most emotional, gut-wrenching roller-coasters of my life.  You know when you had to dissect a frog in biology class and it was so nasty but so interesting to see the frog’s inner make-up at the same time?  That’s how last week felt for me.  It was a deep slice into my soul to take a look at what was in there, and examining what that calling God placed in my heart looked like.  It was a good week.  Surreal, but good.

All over the place lately I’ve been hearing the phrase (and using the phrase) “Divine Appointment.”  Partly because my week away was full of them.  Over and over and over again I was finding myself sitting next to someone or talking to someone that I needed to connect with, only I didn’t know it.  Divine appointments.  Places and people that God had arranged for me before the beginning of time.  It’s enough to blow your socks off, really, thinking that God cares enough about us to plan out the little things way way ahead of time.  That everything good He has in store for us has been prepared and waits to play out for His glory.  That’s why I’m loving that song now, “I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind, the God of angel armies is always by my side.”  I get so much peace knowing that God has it all planned and He goes before me and hedges me in from behind.  Safe.

The thing about divine appointments is that they’re just that, divine.  I have to laugh when I hear of someone saying they “have a divine appointment” with someone.  How would you know?  Maybe you could be praying in expectation, but His manifest presence is never forced.  It’s that overflowing of the Holy Spirit that comes by His grace.  My old pastor used to call it “under the spout where the glory comes out.”  You can position yourself under the spout, but you can’t make it rain.  He does that.  I love Chandler’s message on the “faucet” and the Holy Spirit’s manifest presence.  You can watch it here.  In my experience, those seasons of the Spirit’s manifest presence have almost a tactile quality to them–like there’s a texture to them.  There’s something about them that makes my spirit say “mmmmm.”  They’re anointed, smooth, satisfying and complete.  And when the rain comes, I feel most whole.  Oh, to stay in His presence.

I’m so grateful for the outpouring of prayer and encouragement I got from you all last week.  I am so thrilled for what God is up to and I can’t wait to see what comes next.  Praying for you all to experience Divine Appointments this Holy week and that the Holy Spirit just pours out all over you in this Easter season.  He is RISEN!  We get to live in His power.  Mmmmm.

“And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed.  You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has risen; he is not here.”  Mark 16:6 AMEN!

A Camel for the Road

I was going to take a break but God won’t let me.

I should be packing right now, but no.  I needn’t remind you of the fact that I’m a stay-at-home mother of two and that my sleep is more valuable than the rarest of jewels.

It’s 10:00 pm and I’m drinking coffee so I can stay up and write to you about camels.

Seven years ago, I was working at a little art gallery when a woman came in and struck up a conversation with me about our favorite authors.  I rifled off my list of the well-known greats. She listened patiently and then told me that her favorite was a random guy named John Wright Follette and that I should look up his book, Broken Bread.  Then she walked out.  I looked it up and randomly read Chapter 2.  I don’t know anything else about the guy or even the rest of the book, but I was never the same.

“The Camels are Coming” starts with the story of Rebekah in Genesis 24, when Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son, Isaac.  The servant takes ten of Abraham’s camels, loaded down with “choice gifts,” and goes to the place Abraham directed him.  When the servant gets to the city, he parks the camels at the well.  He then prays that God would reveal His choice for Isaac by having the woman offer water to the camels.  Before he could finish praying, Rebekah gave him water and offered to water the camels until they were done drinking.  The servant then got her family’s blessing and lavished her with the “choice gifts.” Rebekah hopped on a camel to meet her bridegroom.  She lifted up her eyes, saw Isaac, and got off of the camel.

Here’s the takeaway.

Abraham represents God the Father.  Isaac represents Jesus.  The servant represents the Holy Spirit.  Rebekah is the “called out Christian in training by the Holy Spirit for deeper fellowship with the heavenly bridegroom.”

And lo, the camels.  The camels were the means of transportation that the father used to bring the bride to his son.  What means does God use to refine us and bring us closer to his Son? “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls”  (1 Peter 1:6-9).

Suffering.

Sometimes, you just have to water your camels.

They spit at you, you quench their thirst.  They snort at you, you offer more.  They kick you in the face, you draw another bucket, smiling.  You see them for what they are, accept them in submission to your Father, and take a whippin’ for the sake of grace.  “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.  For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure?  But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.  He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.  When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:19-23).  Your suffering has been divinely appointed.  Remember, it was Abraham who sent the servant out to find the faithful bride.

If you spot a camel, see the test in it.  Get some joy in your heart knowing that you’re about to be laden down with treasures and sent on a journey to your groom.  You just pick up that bucket and fill it in the well of his grace with some living water and water those camels until their humps can’t hold anymore.  Then get on that thing and make it take you to your groom.

We’ve got to stop whining about our camels and see them as divine conspiracies to bring us closer to Jesus.  We tell God we want more of Him and we want to to know Him better, but when the suffering comes we resist it instead of running toward it with our buckets in hand, ready to drown it in His grace.  “Don’t water a camel with a pout in your spirit for that always creates thirst and it takes ever so much longer to finish him up” (Follette).  Such is the life of the Christian.  Opposite of the comfort-seeking world.  “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).

Step back from the camel.  The illness.  The idiot.  The issue.  Whatever.  The longer we whine about it, the longer the camel is parked at the well.  He has given us enough water for the task.  “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

It’s no sense in pretending you don’t see them.  Your bridegroom awaits.  Run to the well and fetch a pail.  Then look that dromedary square in the eye and fill ‘er up.

“Sing a good song as you let down your bucket and you hear it splash in the well of His grace. In this way his thirst will soon be slaked; then go get the saddle and ride.” –JWF

Hahahahaha….Wipeout

Hi friends!

As I gear up for my first big writer’s conference, I am busily putting together all of my proposals and manuscripts and all kinds of good little things!  This past weekend, hubby took the kids and I got about 6 hours of solid writing time.  God was speaking to me and the writing was flowing like crazy.  My girls came home, and as I was attending to the baby, I looked down and saw Kiara at my feet, surge bar in hand.  CLICK.  The screen went dark.  The blood rushed out of my face as I realized my doom…I had not hit save.  Not.  Even.  Once.  I desperately turned the computer back on and searched through temporary files and everything I could google, but to no avail.  Six hours of work.  To a full-time stay at home mama, that’s the equivalent of a month’s worth of work.  Wipeout.

I let out a quick scream and looked down to see my daughter, tears in her eyes, saying “sorry mama!  Sorry mama!”  I hugged her neck and told her it was an accident and never ever to touch the surge protector again, ran outside, dramatically fell across a patio chair with a gut bellowing wail, and had a little cry.  What the enemy meant for harm was to my good, however!  Undeterred and covered in prayer from some of my closest peeps, I was able to rewrite the entire thing.  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”  Praise you, Father.  Thank you for the gift of your Holy Spirit.

I’ll be taking a break from the blogging this week, but hope to hit you up mid-conference.  If you think to pray for me, I will be meeting with agents and publishers from Friday the 22 through Tuesday the 26th.  I am so appreciative of all the kind words of encouragement I’ve received from you, and am so excited to step through the door that God has opened for me.  Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  What a comfort it is to know that whatever works I can do, whatever can be accomplished, has already been prepared for me beforehand.  God had a plan long before I, or you, ever came to be, and we get to walk in those works.  What a glorious, peaceful promise that is!

Have a wonderful week–see you on the flipside!

Amy

 

The Sensitive Type- Flipside 2.0

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I am the sensitive type.

I cry, like, all the time.  Last night I watched the first installment of The Bible series on the History Channel with my husband and bawled.  More than once.  I think I got teary at every big scene.

I’ve always been hyper-emotional.  Whether it’s an offense that I take über personally, an argument over a weird facial expression or a freak out over a stubbed toe, emotional exaggeration can sometimes be my M.O.  Last week we talked about pride and the Flipside.  This week, I want to show you pride’s other side.

As God continues (and will always continue) working with me in the area of pride, I stumbled across this little article that totally flipped my brain.  Being the “sensitive type” is not a personality.  It’s a tendency toward a certain type of sin.  The sin of……you guessed it……pride.

“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.  Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you.  Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.”  Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

Well, fabulous.  Now, not only do I have to cover an offense and then call an arborist for the logs in my eyes, but I get to just throw out ALL the junk that ANYONE says about me or to me.  WHAT in the world will I call my mom about now?  And notice how it doesn’t say the things that “some people” say.  Nope.  That people say.  All of them.  And not only that, but don’t even hear it.  Don’t even let it seep in.  I love how Jennifer Rothschild describes it– your mind is a thought-closet; you decide what gets hung up in it and what doesn’t.

“Pride and being self-focused are two sides of the same coin” (Rebecca Jones).  Not only is pride that boastful “Ooooooh look at meeee!” voice, but it can also sound like this:

  • “I can’t believe she….”
  • “He said I was….”
  • “She hurt my feelings…”
  • “Why doesn’t she like me anymore…”
  • “He doesn’t love me….”
  • “He never….”
  • “She always….”

    They all come back to being self-focused.  The picture that scripture gives us of humility is one who covers over an offense (Prov 17:9), focuses on her tree trunks (Matt 7:3-5), and does not take to heart anything said to her or about her.  In fact, she flat out refuses to hear any of it and recognizes it for what it is:  a scheme of the enemy to drive wedges in relationships and turn our thoughts toward ourSELVES rather than to our CREATOR.  ‘Cuz we loooooove ourselves.  We can think about us aaaaall day long.  What an easy trap to get us turned away from God…just turn us to ourselves.

    Philippians 2:3 says “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

    How many things can we do for selfish ambition?  NONE.

    Who is significant?  Not you.  Everyone else.

    Now we are women who cover offenses without repeating them to others, we are focusing on our own shortcomings rather than those of others, we never take to heart anything said to us or about us that could be hurtful, we do absolutely nothing out of selfish ambition (so opposite of what we are taught–“YOU can do ANYTHING YOU WANT to do!”), we are never conceited, and we look at everyone, that means everyone, as better than ourselves.

    I’ll have to stop there before I pop a vein or something.  Praise God we don’t have to do this ourselves.  What a laughable thought.  Instead, we just get to rest in Christ.  Press in and ask the Holy Spirit to do the changing work to be this others-focused woman rather than the me-focused, whiny little girl.  This is one of the things I love most about being in Christ.  The work I need to do is just to believe in Him.  To ask.  Then, I get to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, just for thinking on Him.  Meditating on His word.  Increasing my joy in Him.  Why am I not doing this more?  Seriously?

    Let’s take that coin of pride and follow the widow with her copper coins to the offering box, laying it at the feet of the One who can put you in your place.  Seek humility today, and ask God to remind you to count others as more significant than yourself when feelings of pride rise up.  He’s faithful to help us!  All glory to Him!

Flipside

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Where does the time go!?

Khloe’s at that stage now where she’s preparing to crawl- she’s starting to get up on her hands and knees and can spin herself around in a pretty good circle.  I was sharing all of this on the phone with Casey the other day, so he told me to take a picture and send it to him.  I was so excited, watching my little baby beaming as she explored her new trick.

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I picked up my phone and hit the camera app, my heart full with the joy I was about to share with my husband.  Only, when I lifted the phone up to take the picture, instead of my sweet rosebud on the screen, I captured this doozy:

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Oh, iPhone, I love and loathe your camera flip feature.

After seriously considering Botox, I texted it to a friend, thinking it was sinful and needed immediate confession.

God is the best teacher ever.  He uses the best illustrations.  He’s been teaching me about pride (and showing me mine) a lot lately.  It’s so easy for us to look at others through our little glossed-over lenses, quick to point out faults and character quirks, analyzing behavior we don’t like, thinking we are better than others.  We keep our camera focused out, ready to capture everyone at their worst so we can study their errors and thank God we’re not like them.   But praise God–when we least expect it He just FLIPS the camera around and shows us our own ugliness.  Eww.  I didn’t know I was looking like that, Lord!  That’s not even a hot mess.  It’s just a mess.

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  Matthew 7:3-5

There are LOGS in our eyes, yet we focus on the teeny little specks in other people’s eyes!  Flipside.

There’s a verse I have tucked away in my heart that the Holy Spirit loves remind me of when he shows me that I’m being judgmental toward someone:

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”  Philippians 2:3.  Flipside.

Can you think of a time in the past week or so that you were judgmental toward someone?  Now, with that person in your viewfinder, can you flip the vantage point?  Considering that person as better/more significant than yourself, how do your actions stack up?  Do you need a lumberjack for those logs?  I happen to know a certified arborist who can help you out:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”  John 15:2

My pastor shared a quote by Thomas Watson on Sunday night.  He said, “Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet.”  Until we can look at our Flipside, getting a true picture of ourselves and our sin, we won’t see Jesus as sweet.  Maybe when we’re lacking that sweet, sweet joy in Jesus, it’s because we don’t have a realistic picture of our own need for Him.  When we abide in Christ, the true vine, our Loving Father, the vinedresser, is faithful to prune away the branches that don’t bear fruit in us.  Makes no sense to look at the vine over yonder and its wayward branches if we have a bunch of old growth still hanging on.  Let’s gaze instead into the rich depths of his grace, revealed in his word, and let our Flipside become a reflection that looks more and more like a picture of His Son.