Tag Archives: love

His Love Endures Forever

His Love Endures Forever (My journey through Psalms 135-138)

Unlike most people in this world, I have been almost struck by lightning at least 3 times in my life. When I say almost I mean, it didn’t actually hit me, but it hit close enough to me that I could feel the vibrations of power and see the effects of the strike.

The first time I was hiking with my parents and sister. I was too young to really remember the details, but my mom has related the story to me. We were caught in the mountains when a summer storm rolled in unexpectedly and, though they high tailed it off the mountain with my sister and me in tow, the lightning struck around us enough to destroy some tree limbs etc.

The next time I was at Girl Scout camp and lightning struck our cabin in the middle of the night. I remember the deafening crack and the cabin shook under the pressure. When we all gathered outside part of the cabin had broken off and lay at our door.

More recently I was in a car with my best friends. It was raining so hard we decided not to continue and pulled into a grocery store parking lot. Next to us, a light pole was struck and shook so violently I thought for sure it would fall and crush us in the vehicle, but it did not–though the alarms in the bank across the street went absolutely bonkers.

To say I am leery of storms would be understating it. For a large part of my life, I remained terrified. People would talk about the beauty in the storm, but all I saw was raw uncontrollable power.

While I am still weary about storms, and probably more cautious than the average adult, I have drawn a different conclusion about these awesome events–they are beautiful, they are powerful, but they are also representative of God’s perfect, enduring love.

God’s perfect love is raw and uncontrollable by our human hands, power, and will. I’m not talking about romantic love or lust that you see in the movie where you are ‘so overcome’ by the feelings that you throw caution to the wind and make stupid mistakes. No, that is not God’s love.

God’s love strikes us, and when it does, it changes us and charges us. Sometimes it is beautiful, sometimes it feels destructive, but it is also filled with power that is unique to God and it endures, meaning it never changes. His love is constant, just like storms.

Attitude Matters (My journey through Psalms: 43-44)

Rise up and help us redeem your unfailing love (44:26)

We cry this, constantly, especially when bad things happen. It is so easy to immediately blame whoever is in charge, but experience has told me that 9 times out of 10 we bear a personal responsibility for our own failures.

Or at least I know I do.

I had a bad day last week. I woke up later than normal, had to clean up a mess, and was running late for work. My mind on other things, I ignored the speed limit. And for the first time in my driving life I was pulled over for speeding.

My first thought: crap.

My second thought: blame someone else. Anyone else.

But it was my responsibility; I was speeding. I deserved the ticket–

In His infinite grace, I was granted reprieve. The officer let me off with a warning. I didn’t deserve the warning; I was breaking the law, but I was granted it anyway.

Because as humans we like to blame others, we have to make a conscious effort not only to shoulder the blame for our stupidity, but also to turn the ‘bad’ into something beautiful.

Even when that seems impossible.

I had a bad day, but how I react to the bad day and where I take it, that defines who I am and who I will become.

Bad things do happen. Bad days sometimes feel like they outweigh the good, but even when there is a mountain standing in our way we still have a choice: trust God, or wallow in self pity.

Personally, though a nice pity party sounds appealing sometimes, it never makes me FEEL any better. So when I choose to trust, that’s when the bad can become beautiful.

A lesson learned.

A revelation revealed.

A goodbye said.

Peace made.

As I tell my students: Attitude matters.

Rebuke and Restore: My journey through Psalms (38-39)

For some reason my dog will sometimes growl at my nieces. She’s not being mean or hateful, but a low growl just to let them know she is the boss, and even as she does so her tail just wags and she smiles. My theory is because they are all pretty much the same size, it is the only way Emma knows to express her rights as the ‘dog’ of the house. If you tell her ‘bad dog, no growling’, typically she will stop. Because, no matter what she believes, she is NOT the boss.

Unfortunately, my nieces have let this power go their head a tiny bit. A few days ago, Emma was under the table and listening well. Then one little girl walks in and says ‘bad dog’, waggling her finger at the patient dog who had done nothing wrong.

“Why did you do that?” I asked the blonde ringletted little one. “She wasn’t doing anything wrong. Do you like being yelled at when you are doing the right thing?”

Chastised, the girl responded, “No, but she was growling earlier.”

Ah. A recorder of previous sins.

“Okay,” I said, pulling the child into my lap. “But that was then and this is now. If you tell her she is doing bad when she is not, don’t you think that might get confusing?”

A shrug.

“What if you were being sassy earlier and then later came in the kitchen and asked if you could please have a piece of fruit. Then I told you no because i don’t like your sassy attitude.”

“But if I said please, that’s not sassy.”

Exactly.

“Not sassy then, but you were sassy earlier.”

“But I was doing the right thing.”

“So was Emma.”

The little girl scrunched her nose up, thinking, processing and then nodded.

No one likes getting their noses rubbed in their wrong doings, but when you do slip up–because everyone slips up–there are consequences for those mistakes. My niece got a lecture. Emma got a time out. Sometimes we have to pay fines, or worse, go to prison, or apologize to people we really don’t want to apologize to. No matter who we are, we sin. We mess up. And God’s ‘punishment’ is the conviction and consequences for these actions.

Yet our hope still remains in our God and when we do mess up, he’s the rebuker, but also the restorer. And so we ask “But now, Lord, what do I do?” And if we are wise, we’ll listen before we act.

My niece and Emma may have had a bad day, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be restored, and as Emma nuzzled me later that night, I know what restoration to a rebuker looks like.

Correction is painful, but restoration brings peace, love, and joy.

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Changing Desires: Psalm 37

Delight yourself in the Lord and HE will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 http---www.pixteller.com-pdata-t-l-485577

I’ve heard, read, and taken a lot of hope from these verses over the years, but this summer is the first time I really started to understand what it would look like to truly RECEIVE the desires of my heart. Especially if the desires of my heart weren’t…exactly…what I thought…the desires of my heart….were.

God knows what I truly want even more than I do.

God knows me better than I know myself.

That’s hard to admit.

I want to believe I know myself. I want to believe I am in control of myself. I want to believe that at 31 I am the kind of person who is fully comfortable in her own skin, and then I stop to think…do I really know myself?

I say something like “I would never  do that, say that, be that.” And then this thing called life happens. Emotion happens. And I do that. I say that. I am that. And I wonder…what got into me? How could I have done those things when I thought I would never, ever do it? What got into me? But it wasn’t necessarily what got into me, but something that was already there just waiting to come out under the right circumstance. A ‘me’ that I didn’t know at all.

Because even though I think I know myself, I don’t. So what I think I want, what I think is best for me, really may not be in my best interest at all. God knows what I truly desire even before I understand it and what will make me soul happy. Really, truly deep down soul happy. But until I truly start communing with God on a regular basis and developing our relationship so that I am SICK in love with HIM our two understandings will not match up. WHEN THEY DO, that’s when he will give me the desires of my heart—because the desires of my heart will BE in LINE with WHO HE IS.

This hit me like a two by four falling from the sky while I was having my much needed alone introvert refreshes in Slovakia.

I was outside watching the Slovak and Americans play Ultimate Frisbee and they were laughing and high fiving and calling out to each other in English and Slovak, communicating in ways that overcame language barriers and reached down into a deeper connection. That connection that people make when they realize that eternity can’t separate the because they are bonded by an agape love that surpasses anything we can comprehend here on Earth. I was sitting on a bench, watching this unfold and God showed me that my heart desires had changed on a soul level. What I though I always wanted, wasn’t what I wanted any longer.

His desires for me became my desires for me.

Now these are my heart desires, so as much as I love ya’ll I’m not going into detail on this blog, but this moment was powerful. I knew that God was showing me something important, but also that timing wasn’t quite right yet, because the rest of the psalm is clear too–

Desires are not granted like wishes from a genie. You must WAIT, BE STILL, and TRUST in the Lord.

Because delighting ourselves in the Lord, interestingly, becomes one of the desires of our heart the longer we do it! And we fulfill this promise just by obeying his commands. And to me…well, that’s pretty cool.

VICTORY is Mine: My journey through Psalms (20-22)

 

May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. – Psalm 20:4

Sometimes you just have GOOD days. Yesterday was one of those amazing days that might be a little weird, but it’s just genuinely a good day and you feel overwhelmingly loved and honored by God.

The last day of school is always a nice day, because let’s face it, everyone is ready for a break by the time it finally rolls around. I had only one final exam left to give and I knew my students would do fairly well on it, so the morning was shaping up to be pleasent enough, but it only got better when after the exam one darling girl thanked me for being a good teacher and asked me to never lose my passion.

I have not felt all that passionate for the last couple of years. I still enjoy my job, but I don’t have the same spark I had as a new teacher. Let’s be honest, life happens and as it does our passion sometimes wanes. So the fact that she still sees a passion in me despite the fact that I sometimes feel  little a full pencil gives me a lot of hope that the spark is still there!

Then I had the opportunity to get to know another student and really talk to her during the next block. We had not had the opportunity to speak much before so I saw this as a real blessing.

When the power went out…well that seemed like a real bummer. And it was. But, in a lot of ways that turned out to be a real blessing too–despite some of the headaches it caused.

You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. –  Psalme 21: 2

In the dark I decided to read my class surveys. And that’s where the light really began to shine and my tears began to fall. Students are much kinder on these things than I usually expect, but this year especially in the comment section I had some delightful things.

-What was your favorite thing about this class? The instructor
– What can the instructor do to improve? Nothing she’s perfect

Okay I’m not perfect, but they’re super sweet to say so. But the one that sent me into teats was the student who thanked me for understanding her not only as a student but as an individual and teaching her that she is loved in the world. Okay yes I am crying now even as I am typing because I may have questioned my calling more than once in my life but it is moments like these that confirm I made the right choice.

No one should ever have to question that they are loved and if I can teach that, then hell, I’ll call it a successful year for sure.

They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it! – Psalm 22: 31

God has won so many victories for me this year. I look back and see how far we have come together and I am just in total awe of him. As I move forward in studying his word and becoming more the person I know he designed me to be I hope I always remember that he is at the helm–because when God is for us, who can be against us.