Feb 24, 2010

God Interrupting

Hey everyone! I just wanted to post a quick update so you know why you haven't been receiving a blog lately. Last week was Cooper's spring break (yes, in mid-February) so I just didn't find the time to post. Additionally, today and tomorrow, the two days I was planning to work in my blog writing, he is home from school with a painful scratch on his cornea. Youch!! Since I've been given these extra days with my sweet boy, I will enjoy him and choose not to sit myself in front of the computer punching away at the keyboard. He also has Fridays off, so there is a very real possibility of no more writing this week. I hope you understand.

This has been a great reminder from God for me to put my relationships before my calendar. This day was not planned and has interrupted my schedule, but I will delight in it. I would encourage you to do the same if something shakes up your plans today. Let's look at a change in our schedule as God graciously stepping in saying, "Nope, that's not what I want for you. . .this is. And it is what's best." Let's be humble enough to throw our agenda to the side and take up His instead.

Jesus, thank you for this extra time with Cooper. Help us to have a blast. And help us ladies to accept your interruptions with open hands today. Give us humility to accept them, wisdom to learn from them, and joy in the midst of them. We love you, amen.

post signature

Feb 10, 2010

What's a Thin Place?

Surprised to hear from me so soon? Well, I've got someone I'd like you to meet and I felt it couldn't wait. This is my friend Mary E. Demuth.

Isn't she a doll? Mary is one of my favorite authors. Not simply because she writes Christian-friendly fiction, or because she writes it beautifully (I generally get lost in her rich world of words), or even because she became a believer through Young Life. I read her stuff because she is real.


I don't have time to read ear candy. I want meat and potatoes. Struggle. Pain. Hope. Redemption. And Mary never disappoints. I have read 3 of her books and am now working on the 4th, and every time God speaks profoundly to my heart. My friend's new book hit the shelves this week.

Thin Places.

On Monday we spoke of finding God in your everyday ordinary. In this raw memoir, Mary finds the courage to discover Him in her broken past. A victor over childhood sexual abuse, neglect, and the death of a parent, she peers at an imprisoning adolescence through the eyes of freedom. She wrestles unashamedly through the effects of her abuse: insecurity, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts. She is bold, remarkably transparent, and surprisingly--refreshing.

I think most times we are afraid to delve into our pasts, petrified of what wound we might uncover there. In my quest for deep spiritual healing, I myself have felt that way. But Mary leads the charge for us timid ones, testifying that we need not shrink in fright. The past is redeemable with Christ. There is hope. And as I've seen illustrated so beautifully in this memoir, the very things we are afraid of about ourselves, God can heal, use to glorify Himself and bring people to His feet.

Thanks, Mary, for courageously sharing your life. You have reminded me that what the enemy wants to use for my destruction, Jesus will use for my good and His glory.

Visit Mary E. Demuth's website. See what other bloggers are saying.

post signature

*a review book was provided by the publisher*

Feb 8, 2010

EXTRAordinary Communicator

You've heard me mention before that I desire to live for God moment-by-moment. I want to hear His voice and sense His presence not only under the soft glow of my overhead lamp during my quiet time alone, but as I walk out into the harsh brightness of a new day. I recently read a story in an article by Murray Pura in a back issue of Crux journal about a couple who did just that.

"A curious and entertaining game was played by Ellen Pinzatski and her husband. They only played it once a year. . when they were camped far out in the mountains by a silent turquoise lake they had named Infrequent. The game consisted of one of the them pointing out a natural object, say a moss-swaddled cedar stump or a high and voluminous cloud formation, and the other stating, to the best of their ability, what characteristic of God was expressed that object" (December 1988).

I love that! I know it's not possible for us to live our entire lives lakeside basking in the peace of wide-open places (maybe that's why they nicknamed their lake Infrequent), but maybe it's possible to feel the freedom of those moments daily. Maybe we can feel the breath of God on our faces when the only breeze we're getting is when the office A/C kicks on. I don't know.

Murray mentions that the Pinzatski game was birthed out of their love for Paul's words in Romans 1:20. I like the way The Voice translation says it:

"From the beginning, creation in its magnificence enlightens us to His nature. Creation itself makes his undying power and divine identity clear, even though they are invisible. . ."

God is making Himself apparent to us everyday in the wonders He has created around us. Wouldn't it be great if, as we're sitting at that stoplight we hate, we could imbibe the beauty of that little yellow flower bursting forth from the patch of dirt and weeds on the corner? Or what if we took a moment on our lunch break to gaze into the heavens before we sped off to a stress-inducing restaurant? What could happen? Maybe we would give God the opportunity to press upon our heart how He loves to bring beauty and life out of ugly circumstances, a la yellow flower. Or possibly how He is ever with us and never leaves us. I got that message loudly one day as I was freaking out about something (shocking, I know). I looked out my window and there was a cross made out of clouds in a bright blue sky. Clear as day. It brought immediate peace. It's as if God was saying, "I'm still here and it will be okay." But, if I would have never peered upward, I would have missed Him.

Girls, I know we are busy. Some of us barely have time to pluck our eyebrows much less pluck profound meaning out of ordinary, everyday events. But I believe it is in those ordinary moments that God can speak extraordinary truths. He is communicating all the time; we must only stop and listen.

So, I'd like to challenge you today. Sometime this week, will you take a moment to take in a little bit of nature, asking God to speak to you through it? It may take a few tries; sometimes I just can't get my brain to shut up long enough to hear anything, especially something as quiet as a whisper from an invisible God. If you're like me in that area, can you keep giving it a go until you hear something? And then, if you don't mind, would you encourage me by coming back here and letting me know what you experienced? I'll be praying for God to speak loudly in your quiet moments.

Jesus, thank you that you want to speak to us everyday in every situation. So often I feel alone as I walk out into my day, but that simply is not the truth. You are ever speaking. Please help me and my friends here to remember to look for you in the ordinary over these next few days. Remind them of You when they see that newborn calf in the field on their way to work or that singing robin on their morning run. Wherever you are wanting to display yourself, attract and open their eyes powerfully. And help us all to see that the "ordinary" is indeed your extraordinary. We love you, amen.

post signature

Feb 3, 2010

Oh, Mercy!

"A thousand times I've failed
Still your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I'm caught in your grace"
. . .from "Inside Out" by Hillsong United

As I stepped out of my quiet time this morning, I stepped right into a puddle of sin. Granted, it was a small puddle, but a puddle nonetheless. My first reaction was to berate myself for not avoiding it; I should know better, after all. But as I confessed it to Jesus, in His sweet way He reminded me of the lyrics above. I have failed thousands of times and will continue to stumble through this journey with Christ; it's a muddy, sloppy road. However, His mercy remains. I can never err so much that He throws up His hands and says, "Well, that was the last straw. I'm done with her. Be gone, Misti Dawn Gil!" Yes, my name is a weather forecast. . .focus.

My problem is I keep thinking God is like everyone around me, sizing me up according to what I do, how I perform. But, thankfully, He operates in a blessedly different manner.

". . .the LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Sam. 16:7b

When I raise my voice with Cooper, God sees the wounded place from which that yelling comes. When I isolate myself, He sees that scared little girl inside of me afraid of getting hurt again. When He sees you reach for that drink, or food, or whatever it may be that you use to anesthetize, He sees your hurt and fear too. And His heart breaks.

He's not so much watching our actions and waiting to pounce as much as He's walking beside us catching us when we trip up. He is, well, tender. I love that description. . .tender. It just speaks peace deep down into my soul. And nowhere in scripture does he display this quality more, in my opinion, than in His encounter with the adulterous woman. (Click on that link and give it a quick read if you're not familiar with it.)

I am that woman. Am I sleeping with another man? No. But I bed with other sins like Anger, Isolation, and Performance way more often than I would like to fess up to. And I am so thankful that when I'm snatched up by my old sins again, Jesus repeats those words He used so long ago.

"Well, I do not condemn you either; all I ask is that you go and from now on avoid the sins that plague you." John 8:11 The Voice

Sweet Jesus. So full of compassion. There is no condemnation. No Tsk-Tsking. There is a loving hand reaching out to encourage us away from the sin that imprisons us and toward the life that frees us. Ladies, it's not about what you do. Our God is much deeper than that. He sees your heart and He longs to heal it. Let's not get so focused on our behaviors that we don't see the heart behind the issue. We must dive in and ask what is behind it all, what is causing us to circle back to that sin. Let's ask God, like David, to go deeper, to heal us from the inside out so that our sin no longer entangles us.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm. 139:23-24

Jesus, we get so down on ourselves when we fail. We want so badly to be everything we think You want. But what you want is our heart, fully surrendered, resting in your sufficiency, not our ability. So, as much as we would like a nice, succinct list of behaviors to follow, we forfeit that desire. We now give you our hearts. Transform them and, in the process, us. We love you, amen.

post signature