Tentative steps?

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

It’s that  feeling in the pit of my stomach. It’s a big night at school! Meet the Teacher Night matters a whole lot. That first impression of a teacher, a person who spends a whole lot of time with a learner, is significant.

Parents watch. They know their child. There is no thing and no one in the world who matters more to them. The love they have for their child is deep, abiding, constant, unmistakable.

And I stand there. Sweaty palmed. Wondering what they think of me. Hoping I sound fun but firm, sincere but not too serious. I’ve been doing this for half my life. I should be familiar with these feelings by now. I should feel more confident. But the butterflies wage war in my middle and I wonder how it will all go. The tentative steps into the unknown with a new group are a part of the journey and half the fun.

And then I am reminded

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

While my steps may feel tentative, I am not called to be a person who lives in doubt and disbelief. Instead, I am called to be a person who confidently follows the steps of my heavenly Father. Walking with Him is the opposite of tentative. It’s a place of certainty. It’s a place of His continual presence.

And there’s this too

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Choosing to live a life of fear is the exact opposite of what God intends for me. I am meant to live with the Holy Spirit’s guiding.

Do I always do it? That’s a resounding no! But when tentative-ness creeps in on stealthy feet, I know I have an Advocate who goes to the Father for me. He desires me to live faithfully at His side. So I never walk alone. He always goes before! Therefore the confidence returns and grace for each moment is continuously provided! Praise God for His presence.

via Daily Prompt: Tentative

Anticipate – Come see …

-Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.

There’s nothing like anticipation. It’s the excitement before something new. What will happen? It’s the butterflies in the stomach that stop you from sleeping. It’s the wonders that can become anxiety and worry faster than a heart can fathom. It’s that moment of wanting to draw someone else along with you into what’s about to occur. There’s excitement tinging the air.

I used to get more excited about things. A new school year, butterflies. A birthday, a night’s sleep lost. A holiday, long awaited.

Too often, there is a cynicism that tinges my attitude. A jaded spirit that creeps in on cat’s feet stealing the joy from my heart. It’s not healthy. It colours everything in shades of disappointment.

But my Heavenly Father calls me to live with a constant sense of anticipation. I am called to seek out joy. I am called to look for the new rather than the old. I am called to have a selective memory.

My God has something new for me. It’s right there, daring me to find it. Challenging me to experience it. Begging me to embrace it with arms spread wide. My eyes are meant to be open so that I will see what God has ahead of me.

I want to find out what’s new! I want to wholeheartedly embrace God’s plan for me. I want to be part of the new thing that I’m meant to see!

via Daily Prompt: Anticipate

Educate – to learn, constantly

Farmhouse Garden Salad a blend of fresh greens,cucumbers, red onions, grape tomatoes, cheddar cheeseand croutons. Served with your choice of dressing.

If I think about the lessons I’ve learned so far in my life, the really big ones haven’t been learned in a typical classroom. That’s not to say I haven’t learned many things from my teachers, I have. But there’s more to life than a classroom.

Lessons have been learned in my family’s yard. I learned how to mow a straight line by looking at a tree at the end of the row. I learned the difference between a weed and a vegetable in our garden. I learned that perseverance matters as we picked knee-high weeds. I learned that sometimes the work has to be done more than once when we trimmed trees one summer and then again the next spring after snow came when it was meant to be spring.

Lessons have been learned in living rooms. I learned about Jesus through family devotions with all of us seated on the living room couch. I learned that it paid to be on time for Bible studies while in college – first come first seat on the couch, the rest of us claimed a spot on the floor. But sitting on the floor is great fun too. Community is a great teacher. I learned about life as my spiritual mentor spoke truth into my life as we hugged cups of tea in cold hands. These God lessons were forming and shaping my character and my heart.

Lessons have been learned in cathedrals. My cathedral journal is full of moments where God has reminded my heart of His truth. Sometimes the cathedral has been busy and full of tourists. Other times, it’s been quiet and hushed. But each time, I’ve needed to be reminded about the love my God has for me. The care and concern of His heart that will not let me go, the ways He’s shaping and molding me because He is far from finished the work He is doing in me.

The learning is far from over. I’m no different from the students who enter my room for the first time each fall. I haven’t arrived at the destination yet. God is still forming my character, making me into the person He intends me to be. And I take great comfort in that. I have much to learn and my God has much to teach me. May I be more formed into His likeness!

The State of my heart …

barren

Image source

Parch: to make or become dry through intense heat
Parched: dried out with heat, extremely thirsty

If I had to define my heart, mind and soul over the first six months of 2017, that’s the word that I’d give it. Parched. It’s been heated by and through experiences. Not just warmed up to a cozy temperature, but heated up to the point of drying out, shrivelling, curling in on itself, withering. It has felt as though there has been nothing left to give. Any drop of water that would have been sustaining was sucked out, given away, evaporated.

The end of June, with its work routines and regular-ness, could not come soon enough. I was looking for an out-of-my-regular-life experience, a place where I could go for some refreshment of my soul.

It felt as though God’s quietness was suffocating. He was so still. His moves absolutely imperceptible to my mind and heart. I knew He was there – because He never goes away. But did I see Him around me, no. Did I feel His presence, no. Did I wonder what on earth He was up to, unequivocally yes!

And so my barren wasteland of a soul and I headed out on holiday. Hoping desperately that God would show up somewhere on the trip.

One of the books of my journey was Christie Purifoy’s Roots and Sky. She writes about her wilderness experience. She states that the wilderness is “the place where God meets with us as we wander. It is the place where new dreams are born and old promises are renewed.” (p. 18)

Immediate notes joined the margin of my book. How do I define the wilderness? Hope? Despair? I wasn’t in a hopeful place – at all! Despair was coating every part of my heart. I didn’t see the wasteland I was wandering in as a place where new dreams would emerge. I had no dreams. I was hanging on to any sign of life, any sign of hope.

One day on my trip, I sat on the coach staring out the window as the heaven’s cried all over us. The weather and the state of my soul were close cousins. As we drove through the highlands, a fellow passenger commented about the water rushing down the hillsides. The rain had swollen the rivers until they were pouring out of their banks, rushing to the valley below. And God used the picture to speak to my soul. He is the source of living water (John 4:10). The water that restores my soul, that takes the ground of my heart from parched to fruitful can only be found in Him. He wants my soul to be overflowing with His water.

living water

Somewhere along the way, I had stopped coming to the well of Jesus. All my attempts to restore my parched soul had failed perfectly! I needed this reminder of rushing rivers. Jesus is the only one who can possibly satisfy my soul. He is the Giver of Hope. He is the source of life. He sometimes is so still in the wilderness that my ears completely miss what He’s up to. But He is there. In that my soul finds hope and renewed joy.

Bethel Music’s Thank you

Purifoy, C. (2016). Roots and Sky:  A Journey Home in Four Seasons. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.