Thursday, October 31, 2013


We currently live on a peninsula.  There are lots of little fingers of roads like the one that we're off of in New Zealand.  One way in, one way out.  There's very little crime in our area with not much of an escape route available.  In fact, a friend who is a police detective says that it's not very smart to be in a criminal in New Zealand at all.  It's a small country surrounded by water.  He says, "Unless you find a way to leave the country, if I have evidence against you I WILL find you.  It's only a matter of time."   

Since running from the law in New Zealand seems futile, how much more ludicrous is it to try to run from an omnipotent God?  So why does anyone try?  

 "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you."  (Ps. 139: 7-12)

Yet there are days where I run.  Oh, not in a physical sense like Jonah who ended up thrown into the sea, and usually not even consciously, but subtly in my heart.  Something hurts, discourages, disappoints and I find that my heart becomes hard or just a bit closed.

I hate feeling 'away' from Him.  There's no peace, no joy, no hope.  Yet, sometimes I linger in that condition for a while and I'm not sure why.  Maybe I'm somewhat angry?  Maybe in my humanness it seems just too hard to run back to Him?  Maybe the enemy is working overtime to distract and discourage and I'm still vulnerable to his schemes?  Maybe I still stupidly want to do it on my own?  Maybe, maybe maybe.....

But the point that I tend to forget is that while may I have run, He hasn't.  He meets me where I am.  No matter how far I have travelled, He's still only a small step away.  A very small step of crying out, "Help!"

Photo by Beth Waterman
Sometimes I hesitate to call thinking that He must be so tired of my failures.  How could I not have trusted like the Israelites yet again when He has always been so trustworthy?  How could I have become anxious when He is the 'peace that passes understanding'?  How could my heart feel cold to the One who died for me?  

How limited is my human thinking of the Divine.

Instead I try to back-paddle my way to Him in my own efforts.  I try to remove that thin veil myself instead of letting Him do what He's wanting to do all along; be with me and carry me through thick and thin.  "For He knows how weak we are;  He remembers we are only dust."  (Ps. 103:14) And yet, "...the love of the Lord remains forever..." (vs. 17)

And: "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."  (Zeph. 3:17)

I can say this with reverent, awestruck confidence:  "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;  I myself will see him with my own eyes."  (Job 19: 25-27)

So why are there still days when I run?  

A friend plans to run a half marathon this Sunday.  She's put a lot of time, energy and effort into preparing for this run.  She's fit as a fiddle and ready to go, but I've seen what a commitment it's been for her to prepare for this for the first time at 40.  She's had an admirable, positive goal-----but running from God is not!  

What massive energy I waste when I do.

I want to embrace Him each and every day.  HE knows my weaknesses, HE knows my 'frame,' yet His nail scared hand is always outstretched even closer to me than I know.  I want to grasp His hand every day and say with the wisdom of one of my favorite philosophers:

"Any day spent with you is my favorite day.  So today is my new favorite day." 
 -Winnie the Pooh

Hanging up my running shoes today.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Not a "Tame" God

Majesty.  Glory. Trembling before Him.  These are all concepts in our modern, more comfortable ways that are hard to resonate with.  

But I remember the first time I stood on the shore before pounding waves and realized just how small and powerless I am.  I've seen the magnificence of a lightening storm in the West Texas sky.  I've ridden up, up, up, up the mountainside at the top of India only to look up and find myself dwarfed by the Himalayas still above.  I've been on a boat in the South Pacific and been amazed by the seemingly bottomless, clear depths of the deep, Deep Blue. 

Creation clearly shouts His majesty and power.  If we only stop to listen.

One of my favorite parts of the Bible is where God speaks to Elijah in a whisper.  Elijah has just experienced one of the highlights of his 'career.'  After the prophets of Baal asked Baal to answer all day long and the heavens were silent, Elijah called God just ONCE----and fire fell from heaven.  It must have been a big 'Ah ha!" moment for everyone there.  Jaw dropping proof of the might and power of the Almighty, Living God. 

But others denied that moment, threatened Elijah's life, and he ran. He ran into the wilderness and begged for God to take his life.  God sent strength in the form of food at the hands of an angel instead.  Then for forty days more Elijah ran.  He ran to the mountain where God had spoken to another great prophet.  A man who had led the Children of Israel out of Egypt. A man used mightily by God who was actually just as human as Elijah.

The story gives me chills:

“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  (1 Kings 19:11-13)

During the impressive disasters of windstorm, earthquake, and fire Elijah went from standing before God on the mountain to hiding in a cave.  Uh, yeah!  I think that would have been a given for me, too!  

But then God spoke in a 'gentle whisper'...............

When Moses stood on that same mountain he spoke with God face to face.  His physical body responded so strongly to being in the presence of God's glory that his face glowed----even behind a veil.

The writer of Hebrews speaks of Moses on the mountain as well.  It's a beautiful picture of how, through the blood of Jesus, we are sons not servants.  And an intense picture of how the sacrifice that Jesus made for us enables us to come into the very throne room of the Father, not hover terrified, trembling, and separate on a mountain:

"You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness and gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai.  For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking.  They staggered back under God's command: "If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death."  Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, "I am terrified and trembling."

No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering.  You have come to the assembly of God's firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven.  You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things.  You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect.  You have come to Jesus, the one who mediated the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel..............

........Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshipping him with holy fear and awe.  For our God is a devouring fire."  (Hebrews 12:18-24, 28-29)

He's our Savior, our Best Friend, but we often seem to forget that He's also a 'devouring fire" to be worshipped with 'holy fear and awe.'  Yet, as Oswald Chambers so eloquently said, "He comes with a grip of the pierced hand of his Son, and says 'Enter into fellowship with me; arise and shine."'

While we are to seek Him, the very same God who was at Sinai is always reaching out to US through the 'pierced hand of his Son.'  With a whisper.  And a nail-scared grip that never lets go.

And when we get to know Him, He's never EVER boring!

"He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” (C.S Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Beautiful day out today.  I love Spring!!!

Thoughts about the journey....

Scars.  We don't like them.  We hide them.  We do whatever we can to try to get them to heal.  Well, girls do anyway!  I guess guys can tend to flaunt them and publicly count them!

I have a big scar on my thigh.  It's about the size of an American fifty cent piece or a New Zealand $2 coin.  It's a reminder to me of about 5 weeks of pain.  I contracted a staff infection in the hospital when Adam was born and the scar on my thigh is just the eye of the infection that developed.  Once it finally opened, and the pain before that was worse than the C-section that I had just had, I changed bandages for weeks and weeks over a deep cavity in my leg while it healed.

Adam is nearly 11 so that scar's been with me for some time now.  It's gotten less red over time but it still sensitive to the touch and unsightly.  I decided quite some time ago, however, that it's just a part of me and that I don't need to hide it.  (It's my Fiji scar!)  Somehow I've become even weirdly fond of that scar---because it's just me.

Even after all these years the scar on my leg is still sensitive but it is unique and it's representative of a story to tell.

Gari Meacham says, "Scar tissue heals, but doctors say it never heals the same.  In God's kingdom this can be a good thing, because he tends to heal the tissue of scars more profoundly than before, making a scar useful instead of just ugly."

Useful.  I like the sound of that.  I'm getting to the stage of my life that while I still would like to be attractive I'm caring less and less about that and more about who I am and how that reflects on the outside.  That means not hiding imperfections gathered in a lifetime.  Places that have healed over can be beautiful.  And can be stronger than before.

Our scars tell stories, make us who we are, and represent healing in our lives.

Years ago I was at a conference and spoke to the wife of the husband and wife speaking team in a break. I was feeling a stirring in my heart to become a better communicator and asked her specific questions about her own story and how she 'got started.'  I don't remember much of what she said that day but one thing has stuck with me ever since.  

She said, "But first of all you have to have something to say."  

I feel like my life since then has been about gathering things to say.  I often feel like my repertoire is getting plenty full of enough things to say for now, as well as things to say in the future when the time is right and the scars have healed.  There's been enough grazes, bruises, and downright injury already, thank you very much! But then there's another lesson.  Another experience.  Another chance to heal and grow stronger than before.  

Yesterday I was, uhem, 'talking' (maybe not so quietly!) to God about providing me with yet another chance to grow. He patiently listened as He always does and then spoke softly to my heart:

"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."  (Is. 41:13)

A promise from our Healer.

And the reminder of this, "My (God's) hand is the only thing you can grasp without damaging your soul." (Sarah Young)

We need to grasp HIM, not try to take control of things around us. Grip That Hand tighter instead of reaching for the healing itself.  Certainly not look in our own feeble hearts for the answer.  And we need to remember:

Sometimes the journey is hard.  Bloomin' hard.  Sometimes we feel like all we have to bring is brokenness.

But He is the Author of the story that He wants us to tell. He is the Healer of our wounds and the Keeper of our scars.

Just hold on to Him.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

And the Winner Is........!

I had a conversation last night with someone who just came back from our other home.  He was on a team that Steve just hosted there. (Steve comes back Friday night, yay!)  As he said he had expected, this man came back with more questions than answers.  A fresh glimpse into the dark side of humanity and lots of "Whys?" and "Hows?" that there just isn't a simple answer for.  

I heard another man speak last night who spent part of this past year researching slavery world-wide.  He expressed the burden that he now bears because of what he has learned and how in some ways he wishes he hadn't asked the questions to start with.

It's important to ask the questions.  To open our eyes and let our hearts break with what breaks His to become his hands, feet, and ambassadors in this world.  But for the past few days I've had a fresh reminder of the reality of the position that we face the world in.

"It is finished."  
(John 19:30)

These words have been ringing in my mind for the past few days.  Because while destruction and death appear to reign in the world the TRUTH is that, "It is finished."  The battle has already been won.  We still live with the fallout around us of sin, but there is HOPE because while we're still fighting the battle and find ourselves in the midst of the fray-----the battle is actually won.  The blood of Jesus reigns Supreme.

And that gives us renewed energy and courage.  We're on the winning team!  Since marrying a Kiwi I've become a pretty avid supporter of the All Blacks (Except when Fiji plays 7's games.  Then I'm still kind of partial to them.  But for 15's I'm an All Black girl.).  It's just a bunch of men on the field with a ball, but they represent a tiny nation and handle that ball really, really well.  They play with determination, but since they've won a lot in the past couple of years, there's often a point in the game where they know that they just need to hold on to win.  They still take the blows with their bodies on the field, they still have to work as a team and keep their focus, they still have to battle their challenger and listen to their captain, but something changes and they play with a joyful abandon that comes from being pretty sure that they've won.

But we KNOW that He's, and therefore we've, already won!  It is finished.

Happy sigh!

Somehow that perspective can make a huge difference in our hearts.  It can lift us out of the day to day sludge of the world around us, it can bring peace into pain, hope into suffering, and joy into the fierceness of the fight.

C.S. Lewis said, "The human spirit will not even begin to try to surrender self-will as long as all seems to be well with it.....But pain insists upon being attended to.  God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."

It is finished, we can stand on that, but the pain we see around us or feel in our own hearts has purpose:  to draw us and others to him.

Sarah Young who writes from God's perspective to us says,"Since I am infinite, 'impossibilities' are My speciality.  I delight in them because they display My Glory so vividly.  They also help you live the way I intended: in joyful, trusting dependence on Me."

"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" 
(Matt. 19:26)

He is the God of the impossible.  The impossible problems around us, the impossible hurt of a dying and decaying world, the seemingly 'impossibles' in our hearts.

“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”
(Mark 9:24)


Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails

    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior."  (Hab. 3:17-18)

Because it is finished.  The tomb is empty.  His blood reigns supreme.  The enemy is defeated.  And while we're still in the thick of the fight and sometimes it may look like we're losing, Jesus has ALREADY won.  

"It is finished."  The voice of a still suffering Champion who even while He was on the cross, He knew the final score.

Friday, October 4, 2013

What we can't just ignore....

I've been restlessly cleaning out a closest because that gives me a positive outlet while my mind churns.  I read another article (link at the bottom) that disturbed me while I ate my lunch today.  Made me a bit sick to my stomach as well.  It's yet another article about pornography and it's effect on the youth of today.  Really on the whole world!  This article focuses on addiction to porn and pre-teens leading to examples of a couple of very young men already listed as sex offenders in the UK because of accessing child porn on-line.

Sad. And sick that children given free access to the internet can sink this far on their own.  The title of the article says, "Jamie is 13 and hasn't even kissed a girl..."  And his parents had no idea until the police knocked on the door.

And that's not the most disturbing part. It's the strangle-hold that it's taken on his and many like him's mind and heart.

The other day I read something quite different online.  A conversation about how a 12 year-old had asked his mom what 'pimp' meant because of seeing it in the name of an energy drink.  It was a heart-felt conversation started by a truly caring mom and I totally get that, but it made me think about the disparity of her concern and what my children have known about much younger than 12 since they lived in a red-light district.  Was I bad mom?

And then I read about 10 year-olds addicted to porn.

It's made me wonder what the balance is.  I totally get the concept of 'age appropriateness' and don't want my children to know things that they don't need to yet.  Yet, I wonder if it's only been in recent times and in the First World that we've had the luxury of this since throughout most of history life has been more raw, less sanitized, more 'in your face.'  This is still true in poor areas today.

I'm thinking that we as First World Christendom may not have the balance quite right.

Not that I know exactly WHAT the balance is!

Another conversation that's stuck with me recently was a young lady who asked me how our kids are adjusting to being in New Zealand.  She asked really good, probing questions and I found myself trying to explain to her the burden that it really is for our kids to have seen what they've seen and to know what they know and then try to 'fit' back in with youth who have never had the privilege of developing a broader world view.

Because it IS a burden.  A burden that won't let them laugh at jokes that people don't even realize are offensive, to just 'be kids' and have fun at times.  They've all expressed to me the relief of finding someone who will really talk 'about stuff' to them when they've been in social situations that are meant to be just fun. Fun is good in balance, but they know that LIFE is serious and meant to be addressed in doses as well.

Do I think all kids should have seen first-hand and understand some of the depths of depravity that our kids do?  Probably not.

Yet, I read about 10 year-olds addicted to hard core porn.  Boys who want to strangle and beat women because of what they've seen. And they still have never had their first kiss.

This is real.  This is the modern world at the touch of our fingertips.  And I think 12 years-old is just too late to find out what a 'pimp' is.

I heard about how babies are made when I was 6 on the playground at school.  I had my first Playboy Centerfold thrust in my face by another girl who had brought it to impress the boys when I was 8 at the school bus stop.  And those were much gentler days. And my parents didn't know.

Yet that is NOTHING to what our kids face today----unless we keep them locked in a cage.  It's just too much EVERYWHERE.  Billboards, advertisements, posters in the store, the checkout line.  And then there are smart phones and children who are just curious to start with.  (By the way, I've easily been able to get around every parental control that we've found into at least somewhat questionable content!  It would keep out hard core porn, but it doesn't block it all.)

Our children are AWARE whether we think they are or not.

My sons don't have unsupervised access to the Internet at all and this is only possible because they're currently being homeschooled.  And may not be totally happening at the houses of friends.  This is partly at the request of our 15 year-old because he's seen things that originated on-line with other kids that he wishes he hadn't.  And because he knows and loves women who have been abused and had their innocence, health, freedom, and lives stolen from them.  It's not just an exercise in morality to him, it's up close and personal and has to do with the lives of real flesh and blood people.

At some point before he leaves home we'll need to give him more freedom and somehow help him through the minefield of on-line access and the responsibility involved.  But I hope and pray that since he has a huge awareness that this is more than just 'dirty', that this is real people's lives destroyed and dehumanized, that that will help him in the battle for his mind and help him establish life-long patterns of self-control.  And that he will not be able to shake the feeling of disgust if he slips up, so he will ask for help before it gets very far.

Maybe this is what we need more of?  More conversations with our kids about things that destroy.  Less thinking that our kids are probably 'fine' and only bringing up subjects that are comfortable.  More helping them understand that an image on the screen is real.  That those women have been used and abused and that if they participate by looking that they're part of it.  By doing something to be the change (like FS or the like) to make them more aware.

And younger than we think we 'need' to.

A friend on Facebook posted this article today.  It's about not giving anything to street kids who beg in foreign lands and why.  This is so not rocket science to me after the places that I've lived, so I was shocked at the responses from her friends that have obviously NEVER heard this before!  But they've obviously never been in a place to learn.

But our children ARE in a place to be taught about the shadow world of on-line pornography and the real-life outworkings of this.  They need to be a bit horrified.  They need to know stories of women and children that this has affected so they can never see it just as an image on a screen.  That's why sin 'against their own bodies' (I Cor. 6:18) is so terrible.  It's not only their bodies, His temple on Earth, made in the image of God, it's always about other people's bodies and souls as well.  It may appear to be 'private' since it can happen physically alone, but it's not sin in a vacuum.

I've witnessed how pornography changed someone I knew well forever.  How the images they'd seen just don't leave and how it's such a struggle to just enjoy a 'normal', amazing, God-given relationship.  So painful!  It's a fierce struggle for the rest of their life.  And so unnecessary.  I don't want that for anybody.

But why is this issue so stuck in my craw at the moment?  Probably because for the last four years our family has been focused on women who have been trafficked, objectified, and unthinkably used and abused in a place where that's just the way that it's always been.  I've seen how hard it is to change acceptance of that.  How things can be done towards change, but how it's so entrenched that it's going to take a lot of time to heal.  We're talking generations really.

And it horrifies me to think that the current generation world-wide is sliding back down that slippery slope so quickly and silently.  The problems in society that this will cause.  They're going to treat each other as meat.  They're going to be robbed of the precious joy of innocence and not be able to just give of themselves in purity to a level much more heinous than a few Playboy images.  Hard core porn as a 'how to'.  Women are going to be much more objectified than just the pressure to look like the magazine.

The Enemy must be so happy.

I sure don't have the answers to what the right balance is.  But we are inexcusably naive if we don't step up in our modern world and ask the questions.  "If I don't think about it it will just go away," won't work.  It's not just outside the door any more and our kids are suffering because of it.  They need to be prepared well before leaving even the most protected nest to withstand this one.  And if it already hasn't, it's going to hit close to home for all of us.

And I'm not overreacting.

But once again that's going to make Light shine all the brighter in the darkness. And hopefully since the darkness is truly dark, some won't be as easily fooled into thinking that it's grey.

The article that started me thinking today.
(Warning:  while this article is an eye opener, since it's from a mainstream source there are images of movie star cleavage, etc, on the side bar. )

Now lest this blog has left you feeling hopeless or touched a bit too close to home, then take a couple of minutes and listen to this song. Scroll down the page and click on song.  Been singing this all day myself!