Tag Archives: psalm

Thankful: My Journey Through Psalm (100)

How appropriate that I would land on Psalm 100 for this week of Thanksgiving. The more years I spend on this Earth the more I realize just how blessed I am to be the person I am in the house I own in the city I chose at the church I freely worship in the body God gave me.

That was a lot of prepositional phrases. Sheesh.

All true.

A few years ago I started a gratitude journal. In theory, this journal should be filled 10x by now with all the things I am grateful for, but I have a really bad habit of not recording things about me. I know, stupid, right? A writer who struggles to write about herself? Is that irony? Not sure, but it is true. I have had the hardest time journaling in my life. I’ve tried. Usually, I do well for…3 days. Then I don’t pick up the journal again for, oh…a year? Then I start all over again. I think that’s why I only blog once a week at maximum too. Writing about myself is just…hard. I’ve hidden behind fiction nearly my entire life, so focusing on my reality, well it’s just not as easy for me as it is for other people. Anyway, back to the point. I have this gratitude journal where I have systematically been recording things I am grateful for. Lists help. Boy do I LOVE LISTS. Here are some of my favorites:

6. Nieces’ giggles through the phone line

10. The smell of freshly baked bread

12. Keyboard clicks breaking the silence of a room

 

182. A good pair of jeans

257. A dead phone

261. Light in the dark places

 

292. Unexpected sources of income when you need it the most

 

343. A well-lit room

348. Daffodils outside my house and window

360. The words “Answer to a prayer”

361. Gut feelings that turn out to be God-feelings

375. The swishing sounds of a washing machine at work

381. Reading letters from old friends

400. Answers

And trust me, there are a lot more. This is just a sampling, but as I read back through it I realize just how telling it is about my life over the past few years. And very Psalm-esque. My gratitude journal has become the echoing poem of my life. And I think that is a lot more beautiful than three days here and there telling about what happened to me that day. And it makes me want to “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth, and worship with gladness (V.1)” because I have so many things to be grateful for. My life is good. My life is beautiful. My life belongs to the Lord.

So here is my challenge to you. Start a gratitude journal…or if you’re like me and journals are hard, just start a list. Keep going. I was inspired by a book, 1000 Gifts (find it here on Amazon), and it’s a beautiful step forward to “Entering his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise (v.4)”. Because Thanksgiving is not the only day we should count our blessings.

Home Again: My journey through Psalm (87-88)

You know the old saying, you can’t go home again? I don’t actually know who came up with that, but it’s a depressing thought. I mean, no offense to Thomas Wolfe, but the idea of not being about to return to your roots is quite disheartening. One of the things I love about humanity is the idea of our past and our present being a large part of who we are and who we become in the future. Though sometimes we may want to, we can’t divorce our past from our present or future self–and really, despite the sometimes horrific circumstances we experience, we shouldn’t want to. Being able to return home is, honestly, what separates humans from the rest of creation.

In Robert Burns’ famous poem, “To a Mouse”, the farmer apologizes to the mouse for destroying her house, but then marvels how despite this, the mouse is lucky because she doesn’t have to worry about the past or the future, but stays in the moment just working at whatever she needs to survive.

That doesn’t sound lucky to me.

To me that sounds like a depressing way to live.

There is a lot to be said for ‘living in the moment’ but planning for the future and learning for the past is, in fact the reality of what makes us function as humans.

And what connects us to God.

You see, Burns didn’t destroy the mouse’s home. He destroyed her house.

Home is not just a building. Home is more than that. Home is a state of being, a feeling, and a surrounding. It is people, not places. Going home again isn’t about reliving the past, it’s about a community–where you are learning and supporting one another from one point in your life to another.

 

God understand this. In Psalm 87 and 88 the psalmist reflects on how God ‘goes home again’ just like we, as humans, are apt to do. Only God’s home is perfect–and the best part is…it can be our home too.

So, no offense to your genius or blatant criticism of capitalism, Thomas Wolfe, but you are wrong. You can, in fact, go home again, and when you do, you’ll be happier than you’ve ever been.

 

Up to your Neck: My journey through Psalms (69-70)

When I was a little girl, our family took yearly trips to the beach. My grandmother had this beautiful beach house that could comfortably house my mother and all three of her sisters and their families. Although our family has always had its ups and downs, I still remember this time as being mostly happy. Maybe because I was a kid, I overlooked some of the not so nice things that accompany nearly 20 people being under the same roof for a week, but some of my fondest memories include the sand between my toes and galloping up and down the wooden walkway to the beach in front of the house where Eric, Eric, Justin and I would pretend to be Ninja Turtles, kicking up sand and raising a little hell.

What I didn’t like as much was the actual ocean.

I remember very distinctly the time I thought I was going to drown. I had followed my older cousins out to deeper water and though I could touch the bottom by bobbing down and back up again, I was up to my neck, feeling as though at any moment I could be swept away. Thumping with almost more power than the ocean, my hear beat loudly in my ears as the older kids continued to wade further and further out–further than they were really supposed to go and definitely further than I was allowed.

I wanted to go.

Sure, I was scared, but this was the first time they hadn’t teased me or told me to go back to shore. Honestly, I’m not even sure they realized I was still following them. If my sister had, I’m certain her face would turn as red as a hermit crab and I’d be sent–or forcibly hauled–back to shore.

I wanted to go, but I felt stuck, and the longer I hesitated, the further away they got. Finally, I resigned to my cowardice and turned to shore.

I almost made it, but my back was to the ocean when the wave hit and I was dragged under. Water forced it’s way up my nose, and if you have had an uninvited, forceful nasal cleaning–you know the surging pain (and resulting fear of netipots) that resulted in that moment. I tried to swim to the surface, but I didn’t know which way was up. And I could feel the lack of air in my lungs as I tumbled with the wave, under the wave, controlled by the wave until he finally spit me out on the shore, where I sat–bathing suit full of sand, and never so grateful for Oxygen that forced seawater out of my nose and onto the crushed shells beneath me.

I looked around expecting to see my parents rushing toward me in fear and gratitude at my being alive.

Oddly, no one noticed.

Now that is NOT to say my parents weren’t watching me at the beach! PLEASE don’t get that impression because they were very attentive and strict, but kids will be kids and sometimes kids do dumb things and it happens so fast it’s over before you even realize your kid did something stupid.

That was me that day.

I had decided to break the rules, and I felt the consequences of that decision from my burning nose to the sand deeply embedded in ever crevice of my suit and body.

And it wasn’t pretty.

This story reminds me a lot of Psalm 69. The psalmist cries out to the Lord to save him from waters that are up to his neck because he feels like he will be pulled under without help. As he cries out, he puts his faith and hope and trust in God, but even as he cries out–looking around it seems like no one noticed.

God is attentive. God is strict. BUT sometimes humans are stupid and the result of that stupidity (whether it is our own fault or a consequence of someone else’s stupidity) is often pain, fear and even death.

This does not mean that God doesn’t care.

It doesn’t even mean that God isn’t there.

But humans will be humans, and we have to deal with the result of disobedience that started with the Garden of Eden.

When I walked up the beach, properly chastised for my bad decision, my mom took one look at me and asked what was wrong.

I won’t lie. I didn’t tell her the whole story, but I think she knew. And she didn’t yell or scream. Though she had every right, she didn’t even tell me ‘I told you so.’ Instead, she picked me up and hugged me tight. Then she helped me wash out the sand.

God is the same way.

When we return to him, when we call out, God could turn His back on us, but he doesn’t. He picks us up and washes away the dirt–it’s why he sent us Jesus.

And I’m really glad.

‘Cause drowning, sucks.

 

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.

Forgetting our Fears Psalm 24-26

My niece is very profound. The other day she was talking to her mom and spouted some profound theology.

“So Mom, I was thinking about what you read about people wanting to stay in darkness and I thought why would they want to do that? Then I thought about how when you first wake up and the light hurts your eyes. I think they are scared to go because it hurts a little. We have to help them see that the light is better after you get used to it.”

Bailey is only six years old, but she understands human nature better than some people who have PhDs in psychology. In the end it all boils down to giving in to our fears or overcoming them with righteous and divine guidance

The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. For He founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Psalm 24:1

There is a reason why the most common command in the Bible is “FEAR NOT”. We often allow our fears to keep us from becoming our GENUINE selves.

Guard my life and rescue me, do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. Psalm 25:20

Unfortunately tough we may forget form time to time, life isn’t about us. We live in a narcissistic, self-promoting society, but that’s not who we are made to be and it’s amazing how many of our fears would melt into obscurity if we would deny ourselves and focus on what we were truly created to become.

My feet stand on level ground, in the great congregation I will praise the LORD. Psalm 26:2

l-426800