Tag Archives: God

Easter Devotion ~ Suffering and Glory

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Clip art found here

Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. ~ I Peter 4:1–2 (MSG)

I don’t like suffering. In fact I try to avoid it. During the lent season someone thoughtlessly attacked one of my most tender places. I’d offered up vulnerability, choosing transparency in an effort to communicate grace. But I was misunderstood and judged. It hurt. A lot.

But Jesus is tender, isn’t He? My little issue of hurt feelings was nothing compared to the suffering of Christ, but He gently tended to my pain, whispering He’d suffered too and issuing an invitation into the fellowship of His suffering.

Jesus was often misunderstood and judged. People thought He was grandiose and self-absorbed when He declared Himself the Son of God. Even those who wanted to believe He was something special didn’t like it when the road led not to power and financial gain, but to the cross.

As Jesus faced His greatest test of suffering, even His friends turned from Him. They didn’t want to hear what He had to say. How dare He talk of pain and death? Peter rebuked Him for such thoughts. Judas gave up on Him rather than let go of his plans and enter the suffering of his Lord.

Yes, Jesus understood the pain of offering up your best only to receive judgment and ridicule in return. Instead of defending Himself and calling down the angels to rescue Him, He walked the road of suffering. He chose obedience to His Father over escaping the pain.

I’ve had much deeper suffering than the incident I referenced. Some of my suffering has been undeserved like Jesus’ was, but often part of the pain in times of suffering was born of my own resistance to hardship, or as The Message says, “that old sinful habit” of expecting to get my own way and trying to get what I wanted instead of surrendering to the more difficult path the Lord asked me to walk.

Each of us has our own journey of suffering. Some people’s suffering is public—especially those who go through serious illness or sudden public loss—like losing a loved one to a car accident. Other people’s suffering is private. Their pain includes abuse or situations they feel they can’t talk about, and for these suffering saints it is difficult to find a safe community of support.

My friend, suffering isn’t easy. Even Jesus asked God if there wasn’t another way to accomplish His will. The Lord isn’t angry with us when we struggle to surrender to hard times. When we face genuine suffering, we have a Lord who is well acquainted with grief and sorrow. He understands our pain and validates our struggle. He also demonstrated the way through the suffering. He didn’t pretend it wasn’t happening. He didn’t run from it. He gathered His closest friends around Him and begged them to pray with Him; then He poured His heart out to His Father. When He prayed, He asked God to release Him from such a painful path, but when His Father didn’t, Jesus surrendered to suffering. He laid down His will and chose intense pain, dying a criminal’s death; but in surrendering He also received glory. On the other side of the pain God highly exalted Him, giving Jesus the name that is above every other name (Philippians 2:8–9). He was not only restored to His former glory, He was elevated.

As we follow Christ’s example, comforted and supported by a Friend who is well acquainted with sorrow, we too are restored, strengthened, and invited to share in glory. Scripture says, “In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation” (1 Peter 5:10, NLT).

My friend, if you suffer today, remember your Best Friend is well acquainted with your pain. It’s okay to wrestle with Him and to ask for a way out, but if He calls upon you to continue the path of pain for a while, know that He will use the suffering. You will share in the glory of Christ, and He Himself will restore you.

In times of sorrow and grief I look to You for comfort, Jesus. It helps to know You understand, firsthand, what it is like to grieve, to be accused, to face judgment, to be misunderstood. You know physical pain, relational pain, and spiritual pain. You understand rejection and hardship. Thank You for choosing the path of suffering so I am saved. In those last, hardest hours Your friends deserted You, but You never allow me to walk through suffering unaided by Your presence. Thank You that You never leave me. Thank You for empowering me to follow the Father even on painful paths. Thank You for promising to restore me and inviting me to share Your glory.PMApprov2-01

(Devotion taken from Soul Scents: RootedSoul Scents: Rooted is specially priced this week only. The Kindle version is 99 cents through Tuesday, then increases by $1 every day until it reaches its regular price of $4.99. If you prefer the paperback version, email me for special instructions on how to get a discount.)

Easter Devotion ~What Have I Done?

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Free clip art from here.

Don’t you realize how patient he is being with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see that he has been waiting all this time without punishing you, to give you time to turn from your sin? His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance. ~ Romans 2:4 (TLB)

One of the gifts of the last year is a part-time job the Lord gave me as a paid singer in the Soli Dei church choir. Not being raised in a liturgical tradition, I’ve enjoyed the rhythms of the church calendar and being exposed to another style of worship.

Since my husband and I attend a community church with multiple services, most weeks I’m honored to worship at the Lutheran church with my friends in the choir as well as with my family at our home church.

Oh how I love worship music of all styles! I’m as comfortable in my choir robe as I am rocking out to the drums of our home church. I’ve also been known to slip away to a nearby charismatic church to enjoy worship dance or to head to another part of town and enjoy the pageantry at a friend’s Catholic Church. God’s people are everywhere, and there is great delight in joining with them in worship of our shared King.

It is due to this part-time job that I attended the Ash Wednesday service I’ve talked about in the last two devotions. My sweet Jesus also used the music of this job to break through my turmoil and finish the work of repentance in my heart.

The railing I mentioned yesterday was grounded in anger at God. I simply didn’t like how He was handling my life. I was tired of hardship. When He dug up the lie on that Thursday, I didn’t immediately repent. I spent two days thrashing about in confusion and anger. The wrestling with God allowed my processing to take the lie to its deepest places to be more fully uprooted. It needed to be banished once and for all, no stone unturned!

By Saturday morning I was spent.

Exhausted, I hauled myself out of bed for a three-hour Easter music rehearsal. Entering the choir room is entering a beautiful community. And in that sacred assembly of fellow believers with voices lifted in song the same Spirit who inspired the great composers of long ago took their music, reached across centuries, and stilled my heart. It started with Mendelssohn’s healing melody as we sang, “Grant us thy peace so graciously.”* The music swelled to fill the rehearsal space and the space of my soul. Weary of the questioning, the wrestling, my words became a prayer. Oh how I needed peace. Yes, Lord, grant me peace.

My heart then broke with an allegory by Tchaikovsky called “The Crown of Roses (Legend).” We sang, “The boy said humbly; ‘Take, I pray, All but the naked thorns away.’ Then of the thorns they made a crown, and with rough fingers pressed it down . . .” The Lord’s sacrifice is no children’s story. The harsh words, barbed whip, and thorned crown really did pierce His body and soul. And like the humble boy in the song, He allowed it. The God-man received the whip, the scorn, the cross, and succumbed to a cruel death.

But it was Richard Shephard’s “Good Friday Reproaches” the Spirit used to cleanse me of the last vestiges of anger and distrust. Our director, Andy, is committed to communicating the message of the pieces he chooses, and this piece has a particularly emotive refrain. For at least ten minutes we sang two sentences: “My people what wrong have I done to you? What good have I not done for you?”

Over and over those words echoed and reverberated in the rehearsal hall. Andy encouraged reflective word emphasis, dynamics, leaning into the text, making it spark with emotion and meaning.

My people what wrong have I done to you?

What good have I not done for you?

Part of repentance is to feel regret.

I’d been rethinking my life. Struggling to let go of the sin of unbelief and to change my way of thinking. Now I ached with regret. It was as if Christ Himself spoke to me in that refrain, and then the Spirit whispered a line from another song I’d heard. “But tell me now, where was my fault in loving you with my whole heart?”**

I felt Him. “What wrong have I done to you?” He gently questioned. “Tell Me where is My fault in loving you with My whole heart? What good have I not done for you?”

As I sang with my lips I confessed with my heart, “Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus. I’m sorry. You’ve done nothing but love and give. Like a selfish child who doesn’t get her way I’ve ignored Your sacrifice and accused You of not loving me well.”

It’s amazing how tender He is even when He calls for repentance, how even in asking us to rethink our attitudes and behaviors He floods us with a magnitude of love.

My friend, do you hear it too? The heart cry of Jesus, the One who gave all for us? Do you hear Him whisper, “What wrong have I done? What good have I withheld? Where can you fault Me? I’ve loved you with all I have.”

The enemy constantly tries to confuse God’s people and steal their joy. The vile whisper reverberates, saying God withholds from us, that His love is not to be trusted.

But where is fault in the One who spread His arms and gave all?

He left the splendor of heaven

Knowing his destiny

Was the lonely hill of Golgotha

There to lay down His life for me

If that isn’t love

The ocean is dry

There’s no stars in the sky

And the sparrow can’t fly

If that isn’t love

Then heaven’s a myth

There’s no feeling like this

If that isn’t love***

Thank You, Jesus. I am undone by Your selfless love. You have no fault. All is done from love. You withhold no good thing.

*”Verleih Uns Frieden (Grant Us Thy Peace)”, text by Martin Luther, translated to English by Andrew Halladay. Music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy PMApprov2-01

**From “White Blank Page” by Mumford and Sons

***“If That Isn’t Love” by Dottie Rambo

(Devotion taken from Soul Scents: RootedSoul Scents: Rooted is specially priced this week only. The Kindle version is 99 cents through Tuesday, then increases by $1 every day until it reaches its regular price of $4.99. If you prefer the paperback version, email me for special instructions on how to get a discount.)

Soul Scents: Awaken, Book 1 in the series, is free on Kindle today and tomorrow!

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My 2015 Christmas Miracle (Part 2)

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Releasing the week of Christma

God woke me in the middle of the night.

“I said fiction and non-fiction.”

That was it, but I heard Him loud and clear. The next morning–sometime early in 2015–I awoke realizing I’d focused on a fiction project I was writing, but hadn’t thought about where to go next in non-fiction writing even though during some journaling time with the Lord He’d shown me He wanted me to write both fiction and non-fiction. I sat and my computer and stared at multiple files full of ideas. I had no idea which non-fiction book He wanted me to focus upon first.

As I prayed I sensed He wanted me to compile devotions I’d written over a span of ten plus years. I opened the documents and began thinking about what that would look like. The workload felt overwhelming, but I began cutting and pasting and editing and dreaming.

The phone rang. “I’ve been studying software and programs to support authors in the publication of their books,” my friend, Carmen, told me. “Ever since I read your Titanic book it’s been my dream to start my own business helping authors. I’m not a writer, but I’m a reader. I want you to be my first client.”

Stunned, I asked questions, realizing Carmen had the software and systems to take the overwhelming, seemingly impossible task to doable reality, including organizing my multiple files so I could concentrate on writing and editing. We agreed to meet and see where God took us.

Then I called a friend who’d long encouraged me to compile my devotionals into a Soul Scents book. I thought she’d enjoy knowing her friend Carmen and I were dreaming together.

I love God’s timing.

“Just this morning God and I had a talk about you,” she said. “Actually, I was mad. Asking Him why He wasn’t moving you forward with all that content you had already written.”

I’m pretty sure my friend asked the Lord to kick my you-know-what and get me going, even though she didn’t tell phrase it that way. The fact she’d prayed about this particular project that very morning was another confirmation the Lord, Carmen, and I were on the same page.

That was the beginning of the publication saga of Soul Scents~A Spiritual Journey in the Son’s Embrace. At the time it seemed logical and doable, especially when Carmen organized my many files into new software that allowed me to move files more easily as well as work in bit-sized chunks. As time went on, however, I had several set-backs. it looked like my dream for a devotional to release for 2016 was impossible.

My vision for the book was to edit the devotionals I’d written long ago and add to them devotionals from the more recent insights I’d gained. I had my own devotional website in 2004, mailing a weekly devotion to a growing list of subscribers, but when my family went through multiple crises in 2008 I had to take a break.

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My website banner back in 2004

The season which followed was long and difficult. I felt to truly express spiritual insights that weathered the test of time I needed to not only do a deep edit on the content I had already produced, but to also write content from the insights I gleaned in the incredibly difficult years.

My work was start and stop. Sometimes the grief over the struggles we went through would halt the flow of my writing as I sat at the computer and sobbed. Eventually, the LORD asked me to rest. Instead of being productive on the project of my dreams I surrendered to another season of healing. Long walks, caring for my flowers, and visiting with friends and family replaced computer time. Instead of writing devotions most of my writing was once again in my journals. Deep and personal, this writing was about the Lord and I working through the pain together.

Then the Lord asked me to do some brave things that took me into deeper healing around issues not related to those struggle years, but to trauma before that.

Mixed in with all this deep, inner work were multiple get-a-ways. Lovely moments of travel, peace, and joy.

PMApprov1-01God is good at this healing stuff.

But when autumn arrived without progress on the Soul Scents book, I gave up on my dream. Comforted by the knowledge I’d rested in God’s plan and direction, I didn’t even grieve too much.

Who knew God still planned to see it through?

Tomorrow I’ll tell you what happened next!

 

Blessings,

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PS This is an on-going saga of the publication of Soul Scents~A Spiritual Journey in the Son’s Embrace. Click here for part 1.

5 Ways God Deals with a Petulant Child

You know the day is starting poorly when (after very little sleep) you find yourself googling “define petulant” while the sun is still streaking the sky peach outside your window. You know petulant is the exact right word for the behavior you’re facing off with. (Petulant: irritable, impatient, or sullen in a peevish or capricious way; a person or behavior that is irritable in a childish way.)

No I wasn’t babysitting a toddler.

And my teenager was actually without peevish or capricious behavior.

The petulant child was me, myself and I. 1

It’s 3:27 p.m. now, and I’m typing because I’m awestruck by how the Lord dealt with such an attitude in someone you’d think (now that she is FIFTY after all) would have outgrown such behaviors. My peevish and capricious ways have been building for days. After throwing down the gauntlet before God (never a bright thing to do) my irritable, impatient, and sullen behavior increased with the certainty that I wasn’t getting my way.

Here’s our the Lord dealt with this petulant child of His:

  1. He didn’t give her what she begged for. No way. No how. No amount of stomping her feet, threatening things she wouldn’t really do, accusing, or whining changed His mind. Without raising His Voice or growing emotional He simply stood His ground.
  2. He put loving boundaries about her and allowed her push against them. (A little pushing builds muscle, after all.) Any spot she pushed was immovable, yet soft, sinking so as not to injure her threshing limbs, but springing back like memory foam. Knowing she was hemmed in frustrated her. But the fact that love hemmed her in kept her from pushing longer than she needed to push.
  3. He let her cry it out, never once leaving her to sob in isolation. He gave her warm, safe arms to cry in. Soft voices to console her. And He showered her with the whispered prayers of friends.
  4. He waited until she was spent and ready to listen before He reasoned with her. Then He gently explained Himself and why she couldn’t have what she had asked for. He helped her understand He wants only the best for her, and that her way was a quick fix to a deep problem. He helped her understand how NOT getting her way was actually a stepping stone to increased freedom for the future.
  5. When the anger melted into weakness He reminded her of His complete, unconditional acceptance of her at any state, saying, “Your weakness does not repel me. On the contrary, it attracts My Power, which is always available to flow into a yielded heart. Do not condemn yourself for your constant need of help. Instead, come to Me with your gaping neediness; let the light of My Love fill you.” (Jesus Calling, November 2)

It amazes me how gentle and loving my Father is.  I’ve never once had an unkind word from Him. (There were days I thought I had, but I eventually learned there is a voice that masquerades as HIS. This is the voice of one called “accuser” and “deceiver” and “that old snake” It is not HIS precious Voice.)

I’ve never once experienced my Father reacting to me with disdain, condemnation, or even surprise (whether I’m being very very good or very very horrid). He accepts me unconditionally. Loves me on good days and bad.

And . . . remains immovable, set on His course, and changing me from the inside out.

May you know His Love my friend, may you truly experience how unconditional and unchanging it is–always and forever, even if you are given to petulance now and then.

Until Next Time,

(Hoping Next Time is sooner than it has been lately. I *think* I’m about ready to come back . . .)

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PS. There’s actually another. Consider this one a freebie. # 6. He chuckled. Not laughing AT her exactly, but chuckling that little parent chuckle that says He thinks she’s kind-a cute when she’s all worked up. (Husbands have this kind of laugh too. Actually my young adult sons use it with me on occasion, too. Come to think of it Jerry and Sam did this yesterday. Twice.)

God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle

Reblogging this amazing post from Kayla Lemmon on All Our Lemony Things

There’s a certain phrase I’ve come to really dislike.

All my life, I’ve heard this phrase whenever I go through a rough patch. *And by rough patch, I mean a prickly, gnarly patch that leaves me bleeding to near death*. You’re probably familiar with those kinds of “patches”.

“God will never give you more than you can handle” is the phrase I’m referring to.

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And it’s a sweet sentiment, really. The people who say it are speaking from caring and concerned hearts.

BUT–it isn’t true.

I know that sounds harsh, but I promise I haven’t suddenly lost my mind or have become an angry-with-God bitter woman who hates the world. Actually, when I realized the simple fact that God can–and will–give us more than we can possibly bear, it got easier.

And it all started to make more sense.

I’ve often trudged through trials that overwhelm me. Ever since my childhood there have been trials that have made me “grow up” pretty fast. But granted, I know for a fact you’ve had your own fair share too, because that’s the reality of life. But this last trial is the one that shook me to my core and had me searching like a mad woman for answers as to why it was happening–and how I could possibly even survive it.

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I lost my Dad to cancer last month–if you’re a follower of mine, this is old news. But–it was absolutely horrific.

Every day leading up to his death was like walking through every level of hell–slowly– for lack of a better term. There’s no other way to describe it. The images…the sounds…the sleepless nights…the cries for God while we look on, helpless…the torment of rubbing morphine in his cheeks, praying it’ll absorb–but to no avail. The horrible, wrenching pain that came with lifting him up, laying him back down, lifting him up, laying him back down…because he became so restless and cried out for “home” every few minutes. And all along, in the back of my mind, I reminded myself that millions of people go through this, and have already gone through this, very thing. And it is simply unbearable. If you disagree–it’s because you haven’t been there.

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This trial was so consuming that I hate to even put it in the past tense–sometimes it still consumes me. Yesterday, at my Dad’s memorial service, it consumed me all over again.

I’ve suffered from nightmares where I relived the memory over and over mercilessly–I sometimes see his face on strangers that pass and worry that I’m going crazy. I cry over sad songs in the car and torture myself with stacks of pictures and yellowed photo albums. It’s beyond just missing him. And even with a firm testimony of the gospel and with peace that he is exactly where the Lord prepared him for, it is still too much for me to handle at times. It steals my breath–and it can steal my joy.

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So, the other day, I turned to the scriptures. I needed help.

I wanted to know where that phrase was that people kept repeating to me in church and at work and over the phone. Why did the Lord “trust me so much”?! Why did He think I could handle these kinds of trials?

And then I realized: I couldn’t find that quote because it isn’t there.

It never mentions anywhere in the scriptures that the Lord won’t give you more than you can handle. Yes, in 1 Corinthians 10:13 it speaks of Him giving us an escape from temptations so that it’s not too much to bear. But when it comes to pain, trials, heartache, and burdens– not once does it say it won’t be more than we can bear. Instead, it beautifully says this instead:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me…for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11: 28-30)

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The words struck my heart, as you can imagine. Christ is speaking to those of us who are carrying burdens much too heavy for our own shoulders. And in that one verse he simply states the reason why we are given more than we can handle: It’s so we can come to him. It’s so we can trust him enough to hand over our heavy, crippling burdens and let him carry the load.

You might be heavy laden right now like I was before reading and re-reading and re-reading once again this scripture that has never stuck out to me as much as it has lately.

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You might be shrunken with sadness or drowning in debt. You might be overwhelmingly angry at someone at church or aching under the pressures of raising children or maybe the inability to have them. You might be dealing with a terminal disease and you still have young children. And chances are–you might need your Redeemer to find you on the path and take up that heavy cross you’re dragging. Besides, even he tells us that he’s more equipped to carry it, so why not hand it over?

I’ve come to learn–slowly but surely–why I need Him.

I suppose it’s because of pride that I always thought I could just do things on my own. I’m strong, I’d say. I’m a tough cookie. I can help others through their tribulations while carrying mine all by myself. Well…wasn’t I wrong.

at jesus feet

I didn’t really know what needing him meant until I had no other choice. I didn’t know what it meant until I wrapped my arms around my middle so I wouldn’t fall apart–or the time I choked on tears and yelled toward Heaven. Or the times when I was utterly alone, and the silence was too much to bear. Those are the times that taught me he’s not just a want or a convenient symbol of love or a reason to do good deeds.

No, he’s the very air we breathe.

And he’s the only one who can make it bearable when life is simply anything but.

~Written by Kayla Lemmon

The Meeting Place

It doesn’t matter.white church

Honest.

God can meet you anywhere.

Under a tree. In the shower. At the movies.

It also doesn’t matter the style of worship.

It was almost surreal that twenty-four hours of my life.

10 a.m Day 1:

Swaying to light guitar. Banners swirling. Gentle. Repetitive. Hands raised, seeking Presence in the intimate places.

6 p.m. Day 1:

Hubby puts his earplugs in. The worship band of vocalists, electric guitars, and drums rock the house. Singing praises in the roar.

9 a.m. Day 2:

Donning choir robes we lead the liturgy, remind ourselves and everyone else that God is on the throne. The anthem we offer says the same. Voices lifting declaring Deity.

Three very different churches. Three very different styles.

One God.

One me.

Connecting.

Until Next Time,

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Gift Upon Gift

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Joy upon Joy.

After I posted last Wednesday something beautiful happened. I got an email offering me a JOB singing WORSHIP music. There are few things I enjoy more than singing, and no singing I love more than music that focuses me on God.

You know, Jesus tells those He cares about not to worry. But that post on Wednesday was related to worry. Maybe someday I’ll tell you the story, but this is not the right time. Anyway, here I am stuffing my emotions and eating my emotions, and not ready to talk to God about my emotions. I mean I know I need to pray, but it was just one of those times I didn’t feel like talking.

So in the middle of all this angst the call comes for this job I applied for. The worship pastor hires me to sing in the church choir. He needs a section leader type who can help carry the sound. I’m thrilled. I mean, really? I’ve been asking God for a little extra income knowing I am not supposed to take a full-time job because He’s asked me to enter more fully into the writing and speaking He asked me to do. For years I’ve also told Him I miss singing. So there He is, LOVE in ACTION, giving me a job that feels like play.

The worship pastor says he knows it is late notice, but I’d be welcome to come early for the church dinner and a lenten service. Now because of this big thing in my life I was trying not to worry about I’d decided about 3 pm to put on my jammies and lose myself in one of my favorite BBC mini-series. Instead I’m putting on makeup and rushing out the door. The soup and salad is wonderful, the people precious and welcoming.

Then the service begins.

I’m not overly familiar with liturgical worship or church calendar, but have sung a lot of high church music over the years in choirs and as a music minor in college. The service was only 30 minutes and a gentle, simple time of reflection. Peace washed over me in the words sung in the liturgy.

God is in control.

He sees.

The pastor encourages us to write out a prayer and place it at one of the crosses at the front of the room. I lay my burden down.

No emotional processing, crying,  or hours of journal writing (which is often my MO). Instead a simple laying down. Trusting.

“Sorry I’ve blown you off all day, Lord,” I whisper.

I feel His gentle answer. He understands a momma’s heart. He knows sometimes it’s just too deep for words. He’s not offended. He knows I couldn’t talk about it yet.

He removes all guilt. He doesn’t comment on my emotional eating or how I should know better. He doesn’t chastise me in any way. That’s simply not His character.

His character is to love even when I don’t open myself up to that love.

Even though I couldn’t seem to formulate a prayer, He answered the wordless prayer of my heart. He set it all up, my Sweet, Sweet, God. Pouring peace and joy in unexpected ways.

He soothed the deep waters of this little momma and made it all okay.

How I love Him.

Until next time,

Paula another test (401x192) (2)

Leaving Training Wheels Behind

It’s discouraging riding with training wheels again.

But that’s how we saw it, learning to live from a new paradigm.

Even if the new thing is something that sounds easy, like learning to live as one who is ALREADY LOVED instead of as one EARNING LOVE.

A friend and I talked about that today.

She read me her beautiful post On the Flip Side of Suffering, and we sat in my living room, sipping decaf and asking why it is so hard to simply BE. To simply RECEIVE love.

Especially God’s love.

It’s like we believe He loves us enough to save us from hell, then we’re supposed to earn His love from there on out. If we perform well enough, work hard enough, serve others often enough. Then we’ll deserve another measured dose of love.

Only love doesn’t work that way.

Love is freely given, no hooks, or it’s not really love.

We love because He first loved us.

God who IS love initiates the love cycle.

Once I experience love, then I can give it.

A book I’m reading says to approach God from the position of being “BELOVED.”

I know this. It’s not brand new theology. I seek daily to practice this paradigm I discovered several years ago.

I approach God as His BELOVED. I expect acceptance. I expect conversation. I expect joy and all those good things that happen when two people who adore each other hang out.

Unfortunately sometimes the old paradigm creeps into my live. I forget God WANTS to love me. Be with me. Bless me.

So my friend and I talked about training wheels even in this. Even in resting in grace, learning to be loved, it was hard, learning something new.

Then the Lord suggested we see it differently.

That we get off the bike and into the boat.

Learning to live as the beloved looks more like this:

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Found this photo on this wedding photography site

 

We look in His face and let Him row the boat.

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From the Notebook

We journey as the beloved, enjoying the scenery, trusting He knows the way.

Until next time,

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PS Tomorrow I’ll share my friend’s post, On the Flip Side of Suffering, in its entirety. It is lengthy but SO worth the read. You’re not going to want to miss it!

Journeying Back and Forward All at Once

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This old branding was designed many years ago. The words and Scripture were reminders to me of what God wanted me to do with my writing. This is not my present “brand.” But it is still my heart.

It was as if God gave me a little shake, spoke to me, then let me return to my night’s rest.

It happened Saturday night. As you know, I’ve been fighting to rediscover Paula the Writer. Despite the fact I have two published books and over 300 published non-fiction pieces (not to mention blogging), I sort-of lost her.

Determined to return to consistent productivity as a writer, I’ve spent many agonizing hours at the computer in 2015. My friend says I’m like a gymnast who knows how to do flips and all kinds of wonderful things, but is out of practice.

So I sit, stretching my muscles, trying to limber up so I can return to the abilities I once had. I still know how to flip across the mat, but I’m out of shape and stiff.

As I entered 2015 the Lord promised me this would be a year of release. As I journaled and prayed I asked Him to help me find His rhythm as a writer. In response to His prompting I wrote that I was to spend my early writing hours on fiction and then switch gears in the afternoon to spend some time writing non-fiction. (This goes against typical advice of editors, publishers, and agents who tell you to focus on one, build your brand, and get established before thinking about doing the other, but I sensed He wanted me to start writing both–in the same day–something I had not considered.)

But I didn’t do it.

Once I started trying to write, I dug into a novel I’d promised my agent. I felt I wasn’t free to do anything else until I met that commitment. I’ve struggled fiercely with it and spent painful hours staring at the screen. I blew off the whole idea of writing non-fiction for a part of each writing day. I couldn’t even do fiction. Did I really want to add another stress to my over-taxed brain?

But Saturday night I briefly awoke, was told I was supposed to be doing both, and went back to sleep.

So Sunday I tried it. I wrote almost 1400 words on my novel, glanced at the clock, and closed the document. The second half of my allotted writing time would be non-fiction. As I meditated on which project to tackle, I had a sense I was to begin to compile the 205 devotionals I wrote several years ago. The goal is to add a few more and release them as a year-long devotional book.

The journey through what will be the first month of my devotional book has blessed me beyond imagining. As I relieve those hard-earned spiritual discoveries, my heart reaches to God in worship, so grateful for all He’s brought me through, touched even now, by His attention during that time. I’ve chuckled at His humor, teared at precious memories, and quite frankly been blown away by the richness of what I’m reading.

I can’t wait to share my deep spiritual journey of those years with whatever readers come my way. A marketing plan–which includes lots of give-aways and pricing that makes it affordable to many–is playing in my mind. I’m so excited I can hardly wait.

So I’d appreciate your prayers. One of these days–hopefully by late spring–I’ll let you know where you can get the book! My working title is Soul Scents: Longing for the Fragrance of Christ.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to have the excitement building within me. This book will be one of the deepest offerings of my heart.

Until next time,

Paula another test (401x192) (2)

 

PS Facebook messaged a good friend about this before posting the story here. She called with something that encouraged me greatly. She was praying on Sunday morning, asking God to light a fire underneath me to put together this very project! Talk about confirmation of the journey!

That Circle Thing

flowersYou can’t give to someone else what you don’t have.

I think about that a lot.

Especially when it comes to the most important things in life, like love, grace, joy, hope . . .

And especially when it comes to the most important people in life, like hubby, kids, best friends.

My journey around this concept began around the idea of grace. I had a really hard time accepting grace. It was always so much easier to see my flaws than my goodness, especially in mothering. It took some pretty hard stuff for me to come to the end of myself and begin to receive grace.

It’s amazing when you forgive yourself how much easier it is to forgive others.

It’s crazy how when you receive grace, love, and all those beautiful things how much easier it is to share them.

In my weird life process I think it ought to be a clue. When I’m easily irritated or quick to blame or judgmental am I blocking that circle of love and grace that flows from Him to me and out of me and back to Him? (I hope I can learn to slow down and ask instead of letting the negative build.)

That’s part of the season I am in right now–trying to separate appropriate empty nest grief from anger with myself for not being able to move on more quickly. Seeking to discern what irritation is perimenopausal hormones and what is connected to something else.

As I process this stuff I am sent back to foundational thinking. Where am I putting pressure on myself that God hasn’t? (That always causes the steam to build inside.) Where is there a legitimate issue I need to work through, and where do I simply need to take more focused time to rest in Love?

Sometimes I think we get so focused on fixing (ourselves and others) that we forget LOVE.

And isn’t that where the deep healing happens?

Until Next Time,

paula cropped