Saturday, October 8, 2011

Under Attack!

We’ve been under attack. Well, our lawn, that is. My husband woke up one morning, alarmed at what he found outside. Our yard looked like someone had attacked it with a rototiller. Each side of the house had large sections uprooted and we couldn’t figure out why. After pondering, Joe realized that it had to be an animal of some kind, digging for grubs. I learned that grubs are attracted to grass for many reasons, one of which is drought stress. They also move deeper into the lawn during the late summer and early fall months to seek out moisture. It all made sense. Now, the challenge was catching the culprit causing all the damage. Joe turned into the character Bill Murray played on Caddy Shack. He spied the terrain; and one sleepless night, he got up and surveyed the back yard. There in the distance was a set of beady eyes that belonged to a skunk. A defiant one at best. I really felt bad for Joe because he is meticulous about caring for the lawn. Fertilizing, thatching, mowing, etc. The skunk was digging deep in search of a tasty treat and would upturn anything to get to it. Joe broke out all the tricks and tools he could to catch whatever it was that was damaging his lawn. Toy wind mills, automatic sprinkler, and chemical sprays. The arsenal was released.

Isn’t that the way the enemy is with us? There are so many things buried deep inside of us, and the enemy just dives in and brings them to the surface to cause upheaval in our lives. If we don’t deal with those unearthed issues, they can cause a lot of damage and turn into bigger things. The buried “grubs” in our lives can be seen in forms that we don’t like such as anger, control, judgment, unforgiveness, etc. The list goes on and on. The Bible calls these “little foxes.”

“Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom” (Song of Songs 2:15).

So what do we do with these “foxes?” We can ignore them, allowing them to permeate our relationships or we can deal with them. More importantly, they keep us from growing in Christ. It’s important to realize that the foxes want to ruin the truth of what Jesus did for us…making us new and holy. The enemy just wants to knock down that realization. Why? Because the truth of who we really are and the freedom that Jesus offers us is the way to defeat the goal of the enemy. The enemy wants to keep us as far away from the love and life of Christ, so he causes pain and turmoil through the “foxes.”

The skunk that has been attacking our lawn has been sneaky. He comes in the middle of the night when things are quiet, and no one is looking. No surprise that this is how the enemy works, too. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit will capture the foxes in our lives. Getting into God’s word and with surrender to his Spirit, we make progress. It’s in those times of quiet that God will speak to us and healing begins.

“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law” (Galatians 5:16-18)


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Can't Remember

I’ve been lazy. I let my guard down, and found my confidence shaken. A few weeks ago, I participated in several business functions where I observed some interactions I was not a part of. Slowly, I started experiencing feelings that seemed to pull the rug right out from under me. I felt jealous, left out, angry and longing to be included. Where did those feelings come from? Wherever it was, I didn’t like it. The possibility that this could have been some sort of stealth, spiritual attack didn’t even cross my mind until later.


I often kid about how I forget things, but this time, it was all too real. I had forgotten the truth. The truth of what it means to be a woman who is loved by God. Unconditionally and relentlessly. Forgetting the truth made me lose my footing, causing me to walk off the solid ground He has given me. To look towards others to make me feel accepted and secure.


Thankfully, God is not lazy! He does not let his guard down. He is always ready to fight for me. Willing to rescue me from the grip of the one who is always ready to knock me down by feeding me lies. Lies that make my heart crumble and make me vulnerable to things that steal my joy and peace.


So how did God rescue me? He used the people in my life...people I trusted, to give me words of encouragement and truth. He surrounded me with his Spirit through his word and through the love of others. I just had to receive it. Something that is hard for someone like me to do.  So, I chose to receive.


A friend sent me this scripture: I pray God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13


So today, I am asking the Holy Spirit to gently, yet firmly remind me that God is always present, fighting for me minute by minute. I need to be careful with the idea of "self"-confidence. Confidence is good as long as you know where it is coming from. I’ve seen how I fall short of making it happen. I know that my strength comes from Him, not from my “self” or from wanting others to feed my “self”.  Seeking that, just doesn’t work.


God continues to work on my heart and mind. Sometimes it’s one step forward, two steps back for me. Thankfully, He is faithful! He created me and I am his joy. Nothing will ever change that.


And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow--not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. Romans 8:38-39


You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me; your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping. Psalm 18:35-36

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Favorite Mike

“My Favorite Mike.” That’s what I called him. Mike was one of my son’s best friends, and he passed away last week. When I heard the news, the knot in my throat was all too familiar. Over the years, our family had experienced unexpected death before, but this was different. I think it was different because this young man had so much life ahead of him. I instantly thought of his beautiful personality and how deeply he would be missed.

Mike was one of those kids who brought a smile to your face every time you saw him. Mike’s death made me think about my own two kids. It forced me to realize how much I don’t know them and how much I miss them, even though they are here. They are doing exactly what they should be doing as twenty-somethings. They are living their lives with freedom and independence. We raised them to usher them into adulthood, right? Why then is there an ache in my heart for them?

Profound and life changing moments come when we least expect them. Those moments can affect us in many ways and can define who we are in a positive or negative light. And so, I went to God with a few requests. I asked for a desire to be more sensitive to those around me, and for help to remember that life and those in it are really precious. I want those defining moments to make me better and more loving. I try hard to do this on my own, and I hate to admit that I fail miserably. As for my son, I think this is really the first time he is walking through the loss of someone in his circle of friends. As he enters this experience, my hope is that he can be inspired in ways that would help him live a full, loving life.

My favorite memory of Mike is when he would come to our house and ask to play our piano. He would play a song he was in the process of writing, and he played it beautifully. As I think of My Favorite Mike, I will remember his bright personality. And while I don’t know if he ever finished writing his song, I know someday I will hear it to completion. 
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 Mike Terlicher
June 3, 1985 - August 16, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Layers

Today was the last session of my collage class.  It has been a gift to be in Laura's class (lonecrowart.blogspot.com/) and the bonus of it all was to create and work with other women who love collage.  Each student in the class has been an inspiration to me.  I really admire the artwork everyone creates.  Laura really pulls us into the creative process and I love that and need that!  The piece I created is from our last two sessions.  I call it "Layers."  Over the years, I've been trying to grow up and out.  I've often been told that the process is much like the peeling off of layers of an oinion.  Layers that cover up who we are, our hurts or the broken places in our lives.  The collage process is the opposite of this.  In collage, we build through layering.  I am finding that the layers help to reveal who I am.  I found a common bond with many of the women in the class.  We all have a yearning to break away from the things that keep us bound to habits we wrestle with.  The collage  process is theraputic because it helps us to take risks that we might not normally consider.  In our class, there is a comfort to take those leaps.  I look forward to more, with hopes to expose whoever I am!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Living with the pain

While working on a project in an art class, a sharp sting on my finger made me stop in my tracks. I knew instantly that a sliver just broke through the skin on my finger. It was just a tiny piece of wood, barely visible, but boy did it hurt! I tried to remove it, hoping I’d get the entire piece out but no luck. There was a small part of it still under my skin, and I couldn’t do anything about it until I would be home later in the day. Interestingly, I was able to proceed with my project, and I actually forgot about it. Later in the day, I brushed my hand against my jeans, and the pain from the sliver came back. I was quickly reminded that something wasn’t right. That’s how sin is in our lives. It’s so apparent to me when I am not in sync with God. Instantly, the Holy Spirit elbows me and lets me know that I stepped out of line. The conviction, while gentle, is painful. It’s also interesting to see how I can forget about my sin and just go about my business as if nothing is amiss. But the Holy Spirit doesn’t forget. He nudges me just enough to make me feel a sense of discomfort, and then I have to make a decision. I can keep ignoring him, or I can make things right. Sin is just like the sliver. We can get some of it out of our lives, but then again, there can be pieces that are stuck inside, hidden from our view and the view of others. But, oh, how we can feel that sin! The pain of our sin can keep us stuck, or it can set us free. If we take our sin to the cross, we find freedom. If we keep it buried and choose to ignore it, that sin can fester and grow into something that could be very harmful to us.

Jesus urges us to come to the cross with our sin. That is where he took the burden of our sins upon himself. I used a needle to remove the buried piece of the sliver in my finger. It hurt as I dug it out. The needle was the right tool I needed to pull the sliver out. Spiritually, Jesus is the perfect tool needed to make us right with God. He promises that He will remove the sin from our lives and bring us to a place of healing and peace.

Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Psalm 32.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Welcome 2011 - Connecting the Dots

I am in my third collage class session and am absolutely thrilled. I am learning, learning, learning. One snag though. It seems like the perfectionist in me is keeping me from creating as freely as I'd like to. The part of me that wants to do my work in an exact manner is hanging me up a bit. So I've been trying to pay more attention to what is inside of me, hoping to hear a whisper from the Holy Spirit. After all, the art is in me and so is He. I try to be aware of the messages that will lead me and memories come to mind of when I was a little girl, collecting and gathering this, that, or the other. I never understood why I was drawn to the things I chose. I just knew that when I liked something, be it a rock, an old screw, or a feather, I added it to my collection. I didn't think about it much, I was just happy with my stuff. Over the years, as I've been drawn to the "this and that", I have added it to my collection of stuff. There was no rhyme or reason to what I collected. Never did I imagine that God would connect the dots as he did. I envision His hand in it like a series of links of a beautiful chain. Somehow, he tied my frivolous, childhood obsession to my collage work today. I find it striking how He can make sense of life's bits and pieces. Psalm 139:14 says, "I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well."  God is good. It has taken a long time for me to see, but over these past few months of working with collage, the Holy Spirit has opened a new place in my heart.  When I am in my class, I feel the peace I felt as a little girl playing outside, collecting "stuff."  I am learning that He is the true master artist working me to become all He has made me to be.