Listen to Your Canary!

I grew up in the U.P. – filled with tales of miners working coal mines, iron mines, copper minepicand nickel mining and more.

 

Many life-lessons came from the work in the mines that Daddy passed on. Instinct, 7th sense, discernment, and spirit-presence were all a common thread of those stories. As was the canary.

 

In the early days of mining there were few, if any, detection systems that could warn of carbon monoxide before the miners went down into the earth. Someone cleverly (or cruelly, I thought as a child) came up with the idea to offer the life of a canary to test the air safety.  miner

 

The bird was brought into the mine in a cage. If the bird stopped singing, it meant carbon monoxide was present and they exited – if the bird died, they had to get out as quickly as possible.

 

The canary was a tool that gave an opportunity to correct a dangerous situation before it 1-canary1-336x295was too late.

 

Daddy likened our inner sense to a canary and warned me to listen to the canary.

 

I especially recall one day when I did.

 

I had a part-time job delivering telephone books he office for the pick-up location was inside an old warehouse in a run-down area of town.   The manager routinely explained the system of calling, picking up the books in the back, and only coming to the office on paydays, and shook hand in a goodbye gesture. I felt Daddy’s presence, hearing inside his familiar encouragement to “make yourself friendly” and without further thought, surprised the manager when I asked if I could meet the staff I’d be dealing with by phone. He smiled thoughtfully when I explained my hereditary training to ‘put a face to a voice’, and willingly led me to each of the four cubicles that lined the wall beyond his office. “You’ve already met the receptionist?” he smilingly asked as he pointed to her desk just inside the front door and across from his office. I acknowledged that I had, and he chatted pleasantly at the conclusion of the little tour, idly mentioning that the phone books had to be stored near the receiving area of the dock, in the room behind the receptionist’s desk, as the basement was too musty for storage. I had no idea how crucial those bits of information would soon be.

 

Day after day, I queued up in line with others at the dock for my trunk to be filled with the heavy yellow-bagged volumes. Each Friday, we entered the front door instead of the dock, to turn in delivery slips and receive our pay. Each week I blessed Daddy’s memory as friendly voices called out from the cubicles and I was able to greet the workers by name, dad001sometimes stopping to visit or inquire how their families were doing. Each time I connected with someone, or made a new friend, I felt Daddy’s presence and mentally sent up a “Thanks” for the good training. His presence was especially powerful that final week when I walked in and the hair on my neck stood up.

 

Instead of the familiar female receptionist, a tall bulky man, seated awkwardly on the edge of her chair, looked up in surprise. Noting his coat and hat, I grew alarmed and quickly glanced to the row of doors on the left. Other than the large shadow of a second unknown person to my left, the entire space – the manager’s office and every cubicle, was empty. Each person’s name – known only because of Daddy’s be friendly teaching, went through my mind.   Something was wrong, and a chill ran up my spine.

The canary had died.

“Oh Daddy, help,” I pleaded silently, and a vignette flashed through my mind. I knew what I had to do.

Suddenly empowered by a hidden strength, I whipped back to the unknown man, anger rising in me. Loudly, my voice continued like a soap opera, demanding to know why the manager ‘never’ seemed to be in his office. His eyes widened, and he slid the chair back as I continued to intimate that the manager was intentionally hiding to avoid paying me. His smirk and quiet response deepened my fear. “He and the others are all in a meeting downstairs. If you’d like to join them I can show you the way.” Every nerve in my body reacted. Because of Daddy, I knew there was no meeting room in the musty basement.

 

Fear for my new friends fueled anger and I was no longer acting. screaming, “I guess not! I am sick of being treated this way. How convenient of him to be in meetings every time I am supposed to be paid. Well, you can give him a message for me and tell him I quit!”   Blu014

Slamming my paperwork on the desk, I turned and fled the dark surprised eyes as quickly as I could without running to my car. Barely cognizant of what I was doing, I slammed the car into gear while pulling the door closed and raced several blocks from the warehouse before pulling over to shakily dial the Crime Stopper number I’d seen displayed on nearby billboards.

 

Fearing recognition, I stayed home, checking the police beat in the newspaper. I didn’t have long to wait for the simple facts that read like script for Sergeant Friday on Dragnet: the date, the place, and the time: robbery in progress. No injuries. Staff had been locked in the basement.

 

Weeks later, employees were informed by phone of a new distribution location. When I declined further work (I was lucky my husband was going to let me out of the house after the scare) I was put on hold a moment for the manager. I couldn’t have spoken, if I had luvudadknown what to say, because of the lump in my throat when he said, “We’re so glad you were so friendly.”

 

Thanks, Daddy.

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After Losing a Child – Healing from Guilt and Shame

Thanks to a friend hauling me out of the house last Saturday, I heard a unique message on Guilt and Shame based on teaching from Ed Welch’s book Shame Interrupted.   1-ShameInterruptd_Cvr-2

 

Two categories of both guilt and shame (that might surprise you) are the guilt and shame one might feel from something I/we have done (like a guilty conscience), and the guilt and shame put upon us by other people or other spirits.

 

What might feeling guilt or shame have to do with losing a child?

 

1 – Guilt and shame is felt if we feel the death could have been preventable. Was it our fault, or were we even partially at fault? Could we have done something that might have prevented the “accident” or “incident?”

 

2 – do we feel guilty that we are still here and the younger person (or in our thinking the  better person) is not? Or perhaps guilty that we might be punished for past sin?

 

3 – do we know God could have stopped the death or prevented it, and do we feel shame or guilt that we are doubting if God really does work “all things together for good.”

 

4 – Whether we could have prevented the death or not, if we asked forgiveness are we understanding that it has been erased or are we believing the lies that accuse us and put us to shame for something which God has already forgiven?  Are we listening to lies that say that forgiveness is not for us?

 

A few of the encouraging points to deal with such lies and accusations are:

Thou Shalt Not Kill

Thou Shalt Not Kill

 

 

1 – Ask if the questions/taunting/accusations bring life. Do these thoughts bring me closer to Christ? Do these thoughts bring peace and comfort? Do these thoughts offer hope?

  • If not – then refuse the offense/insult/condemnation – Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • Then thank God for using the wicked thoughts to remind you that that too is covered by His blood.
  • If the questions, or musings do cause you to draw closer to Christ, then thank Christ for bearing any guilt or shame – remember that He took it ALL on Himself - (Ephesians 1:20) and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

 

2 – Remind myself there is nothing I can do that ‘trumps’ or finishes what Christ has already done – completed – finished. Gal. 2:21 I must refuse to to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.

The next time I feel godly sorrow and shame (guilt for something I actually did) I will recognize that this is good guilt that produces godly sorrow that leads to confession and healing. I will repent and leave it with God.

The next time I feel worldly shame (this leads to condemnation and isolation) I will evaluate if it is from the sin of actions others have done toward me and/or from deceitful lies of the enemy. If so, I will reject it, and seek the prayer support of others.

And the next time the enemy whispers, as he did to my friend, that forgiveness is “not for you” I will shout it to the heavens …

It was for me. Christ bore this shame for me. I will not refuse His gift of cleansing and I am PrairieandMisc2014 1340healed.

 

Isaiah 53:4-5      But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—

our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.

We thought he brought it on himself,

that God was punishing him for his own failures.

But it was our sins that did that to him,

that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!

He took the punishment, and that made us whole.

Through his bruises we get healed.

 

 

.

 

 

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From Power-LESS to Power-FILLED

I am NOT a helpless victim of Satan.

Though I am power-less on my own,  I have access to resist the enemy through the power 2336of Christ.

 

Goal: Sustainable victory. Being filled with the power of Christ so that the ONE who is able will keep me from falling and will one day present me before (Christ) without fault and with great joy (Jude 24).

 

Need: Weakness or temptation of the spirit needs the same thing our weak body needs – consistent healthful input — a change of habit to increase strength and vitality.

 

Habit: Take comfort – to trust in – the mind of Christ instead of my mind or emotions. 1Corinthians 2:16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE SHOULD INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

 

When I find my thinking straying or sinking I can turn to the mind of Christ and redirect my thoughts to be consistent with His will.

Bible study

Effect: – His power increases – my weakness decreases – John 3:30 –He must become greater; I must become less.

 

When I rely on the power He poured into us at the time of salvation – the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit – I allow His power to increase, and mine to decrease. When we receive Christ we receive ALL of Him, but we sometimes don’t offer access to all of us.

 

If I learn to rely on Christ and turn to His Spirit within on a daily basis, that habit will train my thoughts. Captive thoughts will lead me to victory, instead of fear, in the time of crisis. Drawing near to God is the way I can overcome. 2Corinthians 10:5 (The Message) We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.

.

 

Methods: To develop those habits I need the right kind of input on a regular basis. Healthy spiritual food and vitamins! Philippians 4:8-9 lists what keeps our mind leaning   Root-your-identity-in-him.-652x489in to dependence on the mind and character of Christ: whatever is right, pure, lovely, admirable, anything that is excellent or praiseworthy. Put these things into practice! Paul tells us.

 

Results: Whatever we allow into our minds affects our attitude and our actions.

2 Corinthians 10:6 Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

 

POWER-FILLED and confident belief that refuses accusation and condemnation and reminds me of what HAS begun in you, WILL continue to be perfected.

 

 

Phil. 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will IMG_1050perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

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After Losing a Child – Comforting the Personalities of Grief

Just like the personality types (most people have one dominant type with a lesser influence IMG_0379of one or more types), grieving and stress reaction is also often seen as types – or stereotypes.  Here are

Three Frequently Misunderstood Stereotypes of How People Grieve

 

1 – Calm as Ice

If some family or friends are calmly making arrangements without obviously expressing grief, or express that they don’t understand why another family member cannot stop sobbing, it is tempting to think they don’t care or must be without feeling.

 

Actually this person may just be most comfortable expressing their loss by helping others armorsuitthrough getting and analyzing details and needs. They long to make informed decisions and take appropriate action. They are calm and extremely helpful to other personalities in times of emotional upheaval. Yet those very helpful qualities we admire can also be viewed (unfairly) as cold, uncaring or without feeling.

 

This personality can be encouraged by expressing how their actions show a great respect, or love, or loss of the loved one, and are appreciated.

 

2 – Overwhelmed

This person will likely display the full gamut of emotions and often will think no one understands what they are feeling. They get frustrated with themselves because they are feeling so much at once.

 

These very sensitive personalities feel strong emotions deeply, and may seem to the IMG_1304analytical personality to be less likely to be able to rationalize or intellectualize the pain of grief. Yet they are often the ones who can understand and help those who appear to be unable to comprehend the loss (too young, too old, too ill).

 

These people often best relate to statements rather than questions like, I’m sorry for your loss – I’m here for you – What great love you must have had.

 

3 – Superman – WonderWoman

Those who have been raised to believe ‘real men’ or ‘strong people’ don’t cry can be conflicted between what they feel and what they think is appropriate to express. They struggle to hide their true feelings and emotions because they have been taught a public image of strength that must never be unveiled to be emotional. Even though many of these OS11070people feel both the grief and emotions and the pull to keep their grief private they are often at a loss to express themselves. A resulting effect is to feel very guilty for feeling differently than what is expected of them.

 

This personality can often be encouraged by receiving a memento, a note about a particular memory, or a photo the family might not have.

 

I’ve not yet met any one of these personalities who do not appreciate a card or note, or memory of their loved one in the months after the initial grief. Don’t hesitate to send it if you think you don’t know what to write. A simple thinking of you cards with your name can lift their spirits greatly.

 

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Slaving on Shifting Sand

I am a slave.  This scripture confirms it: by what a man is overcome, by this he is   Hkisszenslaved (2 Peter 2:19)

I resist submitting…to exercise, confining self-expression, denying myself favorite foods, control of ‘my’ budget, and many other things. Yet I seldom resist a favorite food, an excuse to skip exercise, or to connive a way to get something I want. Both times I am submitting and allowing something or someone to be my master.

I hate greens – well I hate them in that powdery form that we are supposed to add to water and gulp down (and keep down).. (I know many people who can do this but I cannot.)  So I add – chocolate!  It’s true – ever tried a Greens+ bar – I love the greens covered in chocolate, so I began making my own – adding almond butter, nuts, coconut, unsweetened organic chocolate and some healthy sweetener (usually maple syrup or coconut sugar) and it becomes chocolate greens bars.  They are quite good — so good my subconscious had me dreaming the other night about how I should be taking more vitamins.  So there I was cleverly dunking the capsules, one by one, in dark chocolate!

When I first learned of submission to human authority, I freaked out. I blamed it on my abusive childhood and what I saw as forced respect (and obedience) of those who don’t necessarily respect you or anyone else. It’s like exercise, I thought – punishing exertion. That is not, however, what the Bible teaches about submission.   Submission is acknowledging authority, top down – so first, to God.

Submitting to the larger issues – God’s authority over the world, powers, government, and creation, are easier for me to accept. When I ask myself, however, if Christ has authority over my attitude, behavior,  desires for myself or others, or our even my countenance at the moment, suddenly submission does not seem that simple.

The E Word  – again?

Self-control is part of the process, but more as a practice or discipline of silencing myself and humbling myself before God—Choosing God as my God rather than any person or thing, including myself. This is an on-going, constant exercise.

Once I realized that through Christ’s death I had the open door to go to God about any and Davenport Doorall of the authorities in my life, I was ready to listen. Two books greatly influenced my understanding of this Biblical principle are P. Bunny Wilson’s Liberated Through Submission,  and Brother Andrew’s little booklet Practicing the Presence of God. (Exercising).

These books encourage recognizing that God is the final authority over all in my life. But I’ve had a lifetime of practicing submission to other gods – how can I break those habits?

Before we can put OFF, James tells us, we need to refocus our submission – to Draw Near to God, FIRST – to get the strength to resist and flee that which would draw us and divert us from the higher road. When we draw near, we are bowing in humility that we can come to His presence and be filled, encouraged and renewed. This filling pushes off the old so we are no longer enslaved by the former lusts and desires. As I Corinthians 13 says, all things – even my desires –lifelong captive habits – are now becoming new, productive and wholesome.

New habits that microplane-off the old . . . NEW from the inside out.

  • Dietary habits can be renewed by Putting ON healthy habits
  • Physical stamina replaces lethargy when we Put ON reasonable exercise
  • Mental stresses are relieved, replacing depression by the Putting ON of scripture

The pattern, clearly outlined in many portions of scripture:

Draw near         Be Renewed           Put ON          Put OFF

If, like me, you need a visual of temporary submission, check out Kinetic sand you can buy or make yourself. When kineticsand2you (or whoever or whatever squeezes this sand) it takes on the new shape. As long as it is under the influence of the controlling force will it retain the new shape, but when it is released from submission of that control  it goes back to the way it was.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50_-zqsgDA4

Choose an area of your life to bring to God. Draw near to Him, and receive the power to overcome and put on the new.

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After Losing a Child – Trying to Fight the Battle (Alone)

It’s hard when you have difficulty understanding what your spouse, relative or friend is  14122going through, and it is hard knowing they don’t or can’t understand what you are feeling. My daughter we lost once wrote me that she felt that same way – and that all that was important was that God knows. And that God had never failed piloting her through a situation and never would fail.

 

A friend sent this verse today from a (totally different) study she was doing but I found it so related to my feelings:
For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.
We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.  2 Chronicles 20:12

 

Vast army?

Emotions are my vast army right now. They make me feel without power, as indeed I am. All my life I’ve felt if I know the issue, then I can make a reasonable attack plan and be confident of conquering. Not this time.

 

I understand these words and feelings – I am Overwhelmed. Powerless.  sadbywater

 

Not without power – but powerless.

 

There is a difference.

 

It is still knowing and admitting that I want to resolve and control my feelings – I want to handle it. But, I also know I cannot bear the feelings, let alone control them. I am powerless in myself and so I have to FIND THE POWER OUTSIDE OF MYSELF.

 

The solution is in making the Chronicles admissions:

  • First admission – they, of themselves, had no power – ZERO – they were empty – POWER-LESS
  • Recognize they were being attacked from without. God was on their side. It was not God attacking.
  • Talked to God about it.
  • Second admission – Don’t know what to do. My hubby has a saying from another verse – when in doubt, don’t.   What do I usually do when someone else is in difficulty? A) sympathize and pray B) analyze situation for potential resolution. This time I need to also admit – I don’t know what to do.
  • Third admission – Acknowledge God’s power – I believe you are the answer – OUR EYES ARE UPON YOU (They looked at their history of what God had done for them in the past, just as I/we can look at the cross and what God has done for us at and since Golgotha.). I need to accept the resources (and power) available through Christ.
  • Remove distractions – They also fasted as did Queen Esther when fear would have been an expected and understood response to her circumstances. Fasting helps us to totally focus on God.

The Result:

The spirit of the Lord answered their honest cries and told them  SS07100

 

Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours but God’s.

Do I believe like these warriors did that I could take the leap to trust God to either catch me, or teach me to fly…and whichever He chose, would be the best?

 

Do not be afraid. God, my daughter Laurie reminded me, had not failed her once. He will not fail me to come through this. The spirit of the Lord says do not fear – (original word fear comes from root meaning troubled or spun around from violent emotion). Do not be pushed/swayed/spun out of focus by the winds of emotion.

 

Do not be dismayed (distressed, depressed – original word meaning shattered or 2054fearful). I certainly do feel shattered when I look within my limited view. Trusting the emotions makes me question the past and the future because the present is not as stable as I expected it to be.

 

But, the Sprit of God says do not. Do not trust what brings fear. How can I turn off that fear, that dismay? By realizing I am listening to a lie that I must fight a battle that is not mine to fight.  I need to rest, limp, in His strength.

Imagine short little David – facing the bully and gigantic Philistine – with the little stones in his hand. Trusting a God he believed was bigger than his circumstances.

Imagine Jehosaphat, earthly king and man of God, facing a great multitude. And bowing before the power of God.

Imagine me, just a mom facing the gigantic specter of the death of my child and that absence hovering over the rest of my future. What do these battles have in common?

All of these battles were given the same distinction.

They are not ours.

The answer also was always the same

Recognize you have access to greater power than you or any human has ever had

Take a stand to turn your eyes upon the LORD. Let Him fight the battle  redbird1

 

Whatever your battle today, join me.

We may be power-less in ourselves, but we are not without power!

Let’s turn our eyes upon the Lord

And watch for His deliverance.

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What is Be The Miracle?

Be the Miracle!Coming in 2015 – what does that mean?

Is God still doing miracles today? Of course He is. One well-known and prolific writer told grammasbadgewhme if that he has been teaching that and telling people that for the past 40 years!

 

The stories in Be The Miracle (my 31-day devotional) aim to help readers recognize some of the miracles happening all around them.

 

Some believers are quick to discount modern miracles, but if you ask them if they have ever had a feeling that God wanted them to do something that met a specific need in someone’s life, or answered a specific prayer request, they will answer in the affirmative. They recognize the events, but not the pattern. It is in recognizing the pattern that we learn to obey and can readily be used by God.

 

During Purim it is hard natural to think of Queen Esther and how God performed a miracle through her that is still making a difference generations later. What I hope the readers of Be The Miracle to understand is, God is ready to perform a miracle through them today if they will listen and obey him. Don’t we all want to make a difference!

 

-Bruce Wilkinson, in his book, You Were Born for This, said, “God is so intent on meeting

Guidepost Anthology

Guidepost Anthology

people’s deepest needs that He is always looking for volunteers who will become living links between Heaven and earth.

 

Our walk with God started with a particular miracle story – featured recently on Elaine Stock’s blog called Everyone’s Story – she asks, “What’s up with cows and miracles?  http://elainestock.blogspot.com/2015/02/delores-liesner-why-we-need-to-be.html

 

Yes, God used a cow to begin our journey! What did God use to get your attention that He could and would do some amazing things in and with your life?

 

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After Losing a Child – Moods, Memories, and Misunderstandings

You already know I am the moody one. So this past week I went through some of our  IMG_0372daughter’s personal items. I was grateful to see some things making the generational journey we’d anticipated – someday – not now. Some odd things really touched me – the music she played in the car, because Laurie (Laurel) would email me and comment on a particular song that touched her that day. Her husband gave me the tassel from her post-graduate education, because we researched and proofed American Indian elective courses, and we studied clouds and weather together. And a little angel that I didn’t notice until today had a crown of laurel leaves on her head.

 

Ken and I have different personalities, different learning styles, and consequently, react differently to varied stresses including our grief. Laurie and I were more alike –  very visual people. Ken is more analytical. That does not mean either of us is more right – or more wrong – than the other. We are just different.

 

Those very differences are likely what attracted us to each other, and we know that some of those differences when carried to extreme (cute once in a while when you are dating, but Kendee60smultiple times a day – those same behaviors can actually become irritating). Remembering your first love   (Rev. 2:4 ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.) is, we feel, an essential rule to both spiritual and physical relationships. Particularly when you are experiencing a huge stress such as grief.

 

Grief, of course, is one of life’s major stresses, and there are many stories of broken marriages, lost relationships and major misunderstandings and woundings from not sharing grace with our truths.

 

Sanguine, my personality, is more like the Biblical character Peter as Tim LaHaye described it in Spirit-Controlled Temperaments during the era of our marriage (before many of you were born.). Ken, on the other hand, is mostly Melancholy, like Moses. (He doesn’t like to stop for directions either.)

 

All kidding aside, we don’t want our relationship to suffer due to fallout from this great loss we suffered together. But many couples have argued, and eventually separated or divorced – because they express their loss differently, and often don’t understand or are unable to express mutual compassion for reactions we truly do not understand.

 

Ken is treading carefully, because he knows my emotions are very close to the surface 9781602903364 My Love to You Always_frontcovthese days. For example, being a visual person, I would typically want all of the precious memories (including every email and recipe in Laurie’s handwriting) to be visible. It seems disrespectful to ‘put them away’ which to Ken would be the norm and bring him the most peace. It is not that he cares less. He still knows they are here, and he treasures them. He cannot fathom that I cannot take my to-do-tomorrow stack and place it in a drawer and close the drawer. He figures, the next morning I can go to that drawer and open it and viola! There is my visual. I on the other hand cannot comprehend something so meaningful being put-away and therefore in-visible. So we share and we compromise.

 

He helped me organize all the emails we found so far into a folder. They are now ‘put away’ or organized for Ken, and available and visible for me in a way I feel honors them. I will be doing the same with her recipes, rather than having them scattered about, I will decorate a holder and have them “respected” and visible for me, and when that is accomplished he will heave a huge sigh of relief at seeing wood – the cleared tabletop where most of it is stacked as I sort them.

 

Then there are the tears and the talking (or writing) I do (like Peter, just because it was silent and I have never understood or appreciated silence). From Ken there are also the reflective reminders of what has not changed. I have used Ken’s surprisingly calming phrase on him many times (oh, you are upset! Has God died?) but he rephrases it for me. He does that because although the phrase makes him laugh and see the temporariness of his (rarely) overblown minor frustration, it would not sound the same to me. His cropped-watchgod.jpgwife-adapted version is more like a prayer that he is praying while holding me – thanking God for the truths that God has not changed, that His promises are true whether we see them, or feel them, or not.

Your spouse or family member could also be a Choleric, like Paul in the Bible (very focused, and direct), or a Phlegmatic like Abraham (God says pack up and start walking, I’ll give you directions as you go – and Abe does…without a murmur or whine. I encourage you to find out if you don’t already know.

I hope this doesn’t seem off-topic because it really it helps if family members can understand themselves and see how one another is wired so we can better respond instead of reacting to stress or to difficult personalities or both.

 

I’d love to hear what is your personality or learning type and if it has helped you to IMG_0511know it.

 

Below are links to personality tests

This one based on Florence and Marita Littauer’s Personality Type materials (Personality Plus , Wired This Way, etc)

http://www.gotoquiz.com/personality_plus_1

 

www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/

 

First Chapters of Spirit Controlled Temperament

 

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What Are You Doing Here?

If I ever were to get a tattoo this title would be appropriate.

The phrase is from I Kings 19:9. God is speaking – to one of his children who had been

Frankincense for Cancer

blessed to be a part of an obvious act of God, yet had listened to the enemy and was now exhausted from running in fear, sitting under a bush in the dessert…depressed, and wanting to die.

 

“and the Lord came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

 

just as the Lord has said to me, many times, “What are you doing here, Delores?”

 

Were I to draw a timeline of my Christian life, I could mark peaks of “mountain top” experiences that led me to God, sustained me in trouble, and gave me opportunity to be a part of God’s great plan. I could also mark dips of temptation, disappointment, depression, MountainTopand fear.

 

Commitments of diet and exercise, study, prayer, and spending time with others seem to bring reminders as they did for Elijah, that we are no better than anyone else. It is sad that that would make us sad when you think about it.

 

Is that really our goal? For me it truly has been, as my mother was not a good mother or wife, and I SO want to be a good mother and a good wife. Yet many times I have been confronted with the fact that I have many of the same failings and leanings, and I let that sit, rest, then take root and live in my mind and heart. And I get depressed. I am no different.

 

My history with God – those peaks on my timeline shows that God has moved in my life many times, and in many miraculous ways. So why should I ever (and why did Elijah) listen to the enemy’s taunts?

 

– Why should one who had such history with God be found not just considering one bag of chipspotato chips but a cart full? Why should one who has known the benefits of physical exercise be found avoiding the effort it takes? Why should one who has read or watched things which have brought her closer to God, be afraid to toss the book or walk out of the movie that dishonors God or truth?

 

I think God was asking Elijah – and is asking me – much more than a single question

 

1 – What – not why are you here – but what burden brought you here

 

2 – Are you (you who have experienced God’s presence)

 

3 – Doing (are you running from me, or seeking to find me)

 

4 – Here (not so much a place as this moment in time and this emotional condition)

Elijah had that kind of relationship that answers God – even whines to God with his story.

He found the lesson that I’ve experienced time and again.

 

God listenedFootprnts insand

 

Though the original meaning of the word what denotes by what manner (what brought you to this place at this time) – Elijah’s depression story is all about himself– I have been, I am not – and they.

 

God sent helpers. He preceded his answer with comfort and strength through others

No list of don’ts. No condemnation. Just rest. A touch. A reason to get up. Refreshment. Provided.

God gently asks for details

 

What (original meaning takes us to from what or under what [circumstances or influence]

 

are you  1Pub-RAM Panorama 8-20-14 72_0doing – action, deed, work, purpose – [for what purpose)

 

here – [in this time, in this manner]

 

I am reminded of a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary who greeted a slump-shouldered student crossing campus with the question of “How are you doing?” The student began answering, “Well, under the circumstances…” when the professor interrupted him to ask,

“What are you doing under there?

 

That’s my lesson from the Elijah’s story: to ask myself

 

What are my circumstancesunder what influence are my emotions and actions?

 

Who or what am I, a child of God, submitting to, in this moment, in this manner? towersandwich

 

 

Have I accepted God’s provision of rest and refreshment?

 

Have I rested? Really?

Physically and emotionally and spiritually?

 

Have I submitted to God’s provision and allowed/let his messengers refreshIMG_1413 me?

 

Are you also, “under the circumstances” and want to rise above them? Are you angry, or hurt, or depressed that you are even there? Have you quit trying on your own to rise above those circumstances?

 

It is not so much another re-action as it is an act of reclining and trust and dependence.

 

I’ll stop there for today lest we miss what I often missed.

Rest.

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After Losing a Child – Is your Switch ON?

At first I was ticked off. When I was younger I had someone in my family that would force IMG_5697a smile when I felt I had nothing to smile about. Making my teeth appear and the skin on my cheeks crease into a smile did not change my heart or my disposition. If anything, it made it worse because it confirmed that others had no clue – or sympathy – for what I saw as trauma.

 

Of course now I don’t feel those childish experiences compare to the trauma – the grief of losing a loved one.

 

So when a brother sent me an email asking “WHAT SWITCH DID YOU TURN ON TODAY? THE SWITCH OF FAITH…or THE SWITCH OF DOUBT?” It brought me back for a moment to that childhood encounter.

 

But then I read the rest…

 

He reminded me of Psalm 17:8 – and how God loves me as the apple of His eye and longs to hold me in the shadow of His embrace – but will not force His affections on me. in His Hands

 

He comforted me that my “heart cries” of Oh, God, come quickly – help! Were actually making that choice to “turn on” the switch of Faith. (Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.)

 

I’m not saying I turn faith on and off with a couple words, but that when we turn to God, even when we do not have the strength or clarity to say the words, He sees our heart – He counts it as faith.

 

My brother was encouraging me to keep on making those “popcorn prayers” and cries for HELP because that constant connection would turn off the switch of doubt. (Did God say, will I ever heal, etc.)

 

I turned from the computer to ponder that message and spotted a brochure from our church organization about Haiti after the earthquake. The quotes were stunningly close to what I felt after my personal “earthquake of grief.” Especially these:  3-07160

 

  • In search of solid ground – from devastation to healing
  • Even with the pain, we have to live; we have to start again
  • We are here for the long haul – rebuilding takes time
  • Still, life has to go on. We are forced to live ordinary life in the midst of extraordinary circumstances

 

Just as a devastated country needs renewing, so does a devastated spirit.

 

So how do we start again? How do we turn that switch of FAITH to ON?

 

We might actually do it differently than the person next to us, or the one next to them.   Have you ever wondered why one person finds comfort in being with others, and another withdraws? Both are seeking God’s comfort and help in keeping that Switch of Faith “ON” IMG_5696but they do it in different ways.

 

I would invite you to join me the next few weeks looking at the ways we are “wired” to respond. I’m learning anew re-reading Marita Littauer’s personality teachings in Wired That Way, from examining my learning style, and from examining scripture. Scripture like 2 Timothy 1:7 that reminds us we were not given the spirit of fear but we WERE GIVEN a spirit of POWER, and LOVE and DISCIPLINE. (2 Timothy 1:7) Imagine that – we were spiritually wired that way!

 

It is important to me to understand not only how I am wired, but how my husband is ‘wired’ – what brings him peace and quietness and what renews his mind, and how he grieves differently than I.

 

 

When I take the effort to ask which action or inaction will choose life (bring physical or spiritual health) that turns the switch of faith ON, opening myself to the presence of the Lord to fill me and plant the seed of hope and healing not someday – but now – amidst the chaos.

 

I love how The Message puts it:    cropped-img_0010.jpg

 

Psa. 51:10      God, make a fresh start in me,

shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.

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