Sunday, July 31, 2005

Rocky Places

"The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy, But since he has no root, he last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." Matthew 13: 20-21

Lord, save me from the rocky places
When the words of sunday sermons fade into Wednesdays
When listening ears feast, leaving nothing for the heart
When your Word is held only to slip through the fingers
When I promise to change only to change the promise
When I take the knowledge and leave the practice
When I smile at mention of Your love, yet frown at the slightest trouble
When the animal of routine attacks, and I cry beside the cage
Lord, save me from the rocky places
The soil of my soul too shallow
The will of my heart much too weak
So I give it all to You
Dig deeper
Break new ground
And plant anew.
And save me from the rocky places
So that I might weather the seasons to come.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Just a Touch

Mark 5:25-34

Twelve years of blood
Unclean, cast out, cut off,
Pushing upstream
Through the crowds of Capernaum
Carrying nothing but hope, faith,
And the will to persevere.
Running from the doctors,
Too many to count,
Who took the money, only to add to my pain.
But this is not just a man.
The Messiah, Yahweh's earthly son,
The Annointed one
Just a touch of his cloak
A subtle brush of cloth across my palm
A tickle of his gown on my fingertips
And it could all be washed away.
I push, I reach, I feel it
His soft cloak upon my hand
So gently, tenderly,
Yet I feel its power.
He speaks,
"Daughter, your faith has healed you.
Go in peace."
And for the first time
I can.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Memory of Water

"But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:14

" . . . he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul." Psalm 23: 2-3

"Those who believed . . . were baptized." Acts 2:41

With the turn of the nozzle
Like opening a medicine bottle
The cool, flawless, hand of liquid envelops my own.
My countenance changes entirely.
A sip of water, clear and breezy,
Travels quickly, stirring the senses.
Suddenly ready for the moments to come.
With the sound of a glittering cascade
Even the small trickle of a fountain in a store.
The fluid whisper of peace.
My breath is deeper.
With the dip of my feet in a pool,
Like silent slippers of restoration,
Invigorated by this simple act,
My entire body is cooled.
Vacations at the lake,
The gentle rocking of the waves beneath the boat,
Lying on the dock, tracing my name in the surface
Finding healing for the infection of routine.
Trips to the beach,
Seagulls sing as waves dive upon the shore,
Even the sand castles need water for strength.
The memory of water brings serenity
But one moment stands above the rest.
Just old enough to decide and understand.
Draped in a robe of white,
A man called my name,
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost
The water kissed by forehead, my lips, my chin
Like crawling into Daddy’s lap for a talk,
Or Mommy’s arms after a long day at school,
Encased in a blanket of warmth.
The water fell over my head as I took in my first breath.
Smiling faces behind the applause
My new invisible friend at my side
And I felt different,
Cleaner than a long bath after a dusty afternoon of kickball.
And that is my best memory of water.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Creation of Hope

“For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, . . . everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him.” Colossians 1:16

“If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God.” Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life

You are the artist behind all water, earth, and sky
You determined what would learn to swim, crawl, walk, hop, or fly.
You formed the landscape with a graceful brush of your hand.
You direct each rippling wave that dances upon the sand.
You knew the perfect pace for the cheetah and the snail.
You measured the perfect fit for the mite and the blue whale.
You painted the open canvas of the butterfly’s wings.
You composed the lilting melody that the mockingbird sings.
You gave the frog it’s mighty leap and the horse its noble trot.
You sketched the stripe of the zebra and the leopard’s spot.
You assigned the ant and busy bee the jobs that they must do.
You engineered the ducks in a row and the pouch for the kangaroo.
You made the tulip, the daisy, the lily, and the rose.
You wind each creek along its way and tell each river where it flows.
You perfumed the world with lavender, chamomile, and summer rain.
You placed the turtle in its shell and grew the lion’s mane.
You provided the sheep with its “baa” and gave the cow it’s moo.
You orchestrated the crickets at night and the morning cock a doodle do.
You furnished the land with deserts, mountains, valleys, swamps, and fields.
You presented the seasons in all their splendor so our crops would yield.
You bestowed the giraffe’s long neck and the gorilla’s massive chest.
You allotted climates perfect for the north, south, east, and west.
You awarded the skunk its smell and the trunk to cool the elephant’s back.
You told the fish to stay in schools and the wolves to run in packs.
You are truly the grand artist of all water, earth, and sky.
Anything your creation needs, you indeed will bless and supply.
So, Lord, next time life seems to win and the world appears unfair,
I will remember your breath-taking masterpiece, and I will not despair.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Testing, Testing

"A refusal to correct is a refusal to love,
love your children by disciplining them." Proverbs 13: 24 (The Message)

"Some people regard discipline as a chore, but to me it is an order that sets me free to fly." Julie Andrews

Lord, be my guide through this period of testing and "terrific twos"
In the waiting, knowing we'll be late as she tries to tie her shoes
"No, I want to do it! Go away, I don't need your help!"
"I can do it on my own! I'm a big girl, I'll do it myself!"
She wants to run the show, be the boss, she's only two!
But I love her independence, it's just a little skewed.
But just when I seem to know what works, thinking I've taught her a lesson
She challenges us in a brand new way, leaving us with new questions.
She wants Blues Clues when it isn't on and the dress that's in the wash.
She wants the Disney Princess skirt when I give her Osh Kosh B'Gosh.
She wants to explore everything and never seems to stay by my side.
Her legs are speckled with bruises from running up the slide.
As much as I think it's cute, I get afraid she might run into danger.
After all, she'd gladly offer a hug to any approaching stranger.
As my mind swirls with this immense love and fear of her foolish choices
As I read the many discipline books by the leading modern voices
As I pull her face to look at me or put her in time out
As I watch her tears dive down her cheeks as her bottom lip juts out.
As I firmly draw the line that she continues to poke and prod
I realize how hard it must have been on You when I turned my back on You, God.
"No, I want to do it! Go away, I don't need your help!"
"I can do it on my own! I'm a big girl, I'll do it myself!
Just when You seem to know what works, thinking You taught me a lesson.
I challenge You in a brand new way, praying with stubborn questions.
Lord, now I know by testing You I was learning to be what you want me to be
Thank you Lord for this gentle reminder that my little girl is just like me.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Rockin' Raj

"Those who have an understanding will be given more, and they will have all they need." Matthew 13:12

Just when you think you have it altogther
Roller-coastin' along in the bad and fair weather,
You meet a guy like Rockin' Raj,
And you begin to realize it's all a mirage.
One man reminds you of the truth of God's glory
Simply by tellin' his own life story.
From a tribe of loincloths like you'd see on Tarzan
A little boy from India became a life-changin' man.
He was raised a Hindu with thousands of gods,
But Jesus found him despite these odds.
See when he was about twenty, walkin' the streets of Bombay,
He was feelin' pretty low, like an island cast away.
So he walked into a big temple of the Hindu
And prayed for them to come and show him what to do.
He walked to his brother's house feelin' kinda weird
That's when he cried out for help and some crazy things appeared.
His arms twisted up and his hands became like claws,
His mouth was open and dreulin' and he had a crooked jaw,
As he told and posed to illustrate, I winced in my church bench
But then he started talkin' about a thirst he couldn't quench.
He was gropin' in the darkness searchin' for some light
When he remember a bedtime story his mom told him one night.
When she was a little girl, she was told that she would die,
But that's when the missionary lady appeared by her side.
She prayed in the name of Jesus and the little girl was healed
In order to stay alive, she grew up with the story concealed.
But when she became a mother she told a bedtime story of love
To help her children dream of miracles with no nightmares to speak of.
Back in his brother's house, all twisted on the floor,
His body, mind, and soul all fightin' a fearsome war,
He began to remember the name he'd heard those years ago
He called out to Jesus and felt some peace from head to toe.
Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! he cried until he was completely free
But his brother, being Hindu, was angered and disagreed.
As Raj continued to praise, his brother smacked him hard on the face
He told him to stop this at once or he would bring the family disgrace.
As punishment for his crime, he was for a month locked in a room
But this solitary confinement only helped his faith to bloom
For a Christian had come by and slipped him the word of God
And his faith became strong enough to face a firing squad.
His brother hired a magician lady who came with oils and potions
As she began to chant and sway, he prayed with earnest devotion
"Lord, reveal your power in the blink of an eye",
That's when the magician lady screamed, saying she must leave or die!
When his month was up, he was still shouting "Jesus, Amen!"
So he was forced to say goodbye and never see his family again.
But now Raj has a new family including foreigners he once despised,
For Jesus, alive in him, has helped him see with different eyes.
As he continued his energetic story, his joy spread though the crowd
We joined him in the celebration, smiling and laughing out loud.
After hearing Raj's story, I know we'll never be the same,
Big things are suddenly little when you see what he overcame.
Jesus personified, his glory revealed in a gripping tale,
This story of one man's journey where the one true God prevailed.
Though Raj seems like the hero, he'd argue with anyone
That the real hero is Jesus, God's one and only son.
Raj will contune to tell his story to any and all that can hear
Even at the risk of his life, he will continue to persevere.
So from a tribe of loincloths like you'd see on Tarzan
That's how a little boy from India became a life-changin' man.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Prepositional Praises

“God, brilliant Lord, your name echoes around the world.” Psalm 8:9

“We are to thank him for the little things, the big things, and everything.” Dr Steve Stephens

Outside my window
Above this sleeping city
Over the oceans
Past the horizon
In Foreign tongues
With joy they sing Your praises.
From an unknown forest
Underneath a canopy of trees
Throughout the rhythm of the wildlife
Between the dancing leaves
Amid the beauty of Your nature
At dawn they rise to You.
Inside this room I kneel
Beside this creaky bed
After a day of sprinting
Over the hurdles of time
Despite the unfinished race
To You I will give all praise.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

All my life, I struggled with this question because I constantly compared my own identity with other people’s abilities, accomplishments, and expectations. But today I realized I have somehow gradually, silently grown out of it. What freedom, what a blessing! Maybe this is why I love teaching high school and ache for my students. I am experiencing the freedom on the other side, and it’s like they have chosen to stay in their cells. I will do my job of continuing to offer them the keys to freedom. Thank you, Lord, for showing me who I am!

“Since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were meant to be.” Romans 12:5

“The words ‘I am” are potent words; be careful what you hitch them to . . . the thing you’re claiming has a way of reaching out and claiming you.” A.L. Kitselman

I am a Christ follower,
A truth swallower, a Word wallower.
I am a loving wife,
Even in the strife, having the time of my life.
I am a devoted mom,
I soothe and calm by kissing her palm.
I am a loyal friend,
On whom you can depend with a shoulder to lend.
I am a crazy teacher,
With a double feature of a modest preacher.
I am a dutiful daughter,
Like spring water, refreshing mother and father.
I am a music lover,
A singer undercover, for only God to discover.
I am a word-loving writer,
Not a flame that’s brighter, more like a pocket lighter.
I am a house keeper, light sleeper,
knowledge seeker, public speaker,
book reader, humble leader.
But I am nothing without You.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Holding Hands in the Storm

“So they are no longer two but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:6

“A successful marriage is an edifice that must be rebuilt every day.” ~ Andre Maurois

Pigtails sway as fairy tales play,
Wedding veils fray but we take it day by day.
Harsh words outspoken, a fragile heart is broken,
Love offers tokens, forgiveness unspoken.
A cautious glance, attempting romance,
An awkward slow dance brings a new chance,
When budding fruit turns rotten, He’s forgiven and forgotten,
The past misbegotten as the silk became cotton.
Par for the course is the option of divorce,
In our remorse, we will seek the true source.
I smile and nod even though it is odd.
Thank you God for revealing facades.
The media informs to give up is to conform,
But we will stay warm holding hands in the storm.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Shape Sorter

“The people I have shaped for myself will broadcast my praises.” Isaiah 43:21

“You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry. . . He would not give you abilities, interests, talents, gifts personality, and life experiences unless He intended to use them for His glory.” Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

Today I watched my two year old playing with her toy,
That box to sort shapes I bought for her to learn from and enjoy.
I remember the first attempts she made at an earlier stage,
Trying to push these colorful pieces into the plastic cage.
I’d have to be patient watching her shove the circle into a square.
I wanted to reach out, take over, and show her what goes where.
But I knew she needed to discover the truth by trying on her own
But it was difficult to watch her strain and to hear her grunt and groan.
She didn’t know which shape would work so she tried them one by one.
Persistently she worked and pushed until her search was done.
I’ll never forget the look on her face, the emotions behind her squeal.
Her relief, the triumph, and her delight was too much conceal.
Now she still enjoys her toy, but with new confidence.
She slides each piece in quickly, using her common sense.
She can even name them now and tell me how many sides.
She’ll point them out in road signs and billboards we see outside.
As I watched her with this toy today, I had a revelation.
I knew why there were times in life when you were quiet in my frustration.
You watched me search to find my niche, waiting year after year.
And I marvel at all my failed attempts before You led me here.
You wanted to see the look on my face, the accomplishment I’d feel,
When the relief, the triumph, and my delight would be too much to conceal.
Lord, thank you for my amazing church and the team on which I serve.
I only hope this shape slipping in will bring the glory You deserve.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Take These Psalms and Call Me in the Morning

When the sun sinks below the horizon
It is time for rest, sleep, and peace
But the enemy knows my weakness
As I toss, turn, and worry.
Old news of the day, the ends won't meet.
Drowning in a sea of numbers.
Swimming in an ocean of questions, fears, needs,
Though the race of the day is done
And my body crossed the finish line,
My mind still circles the track
Sprinting to where I can't catch my breath.
Desperate in the dark, I found Your word.
Each question found an answer.
Each flickering fear was doused with hope.
I'm in trouble. I cry to God,
desperate for a answer. (120)
Why do You seem more distant in the dark?
Why are my trials so illuminated in the quiet of the night?
He won't let you stumble,
Your guardian God won't fall asleep. (121)
I've been sinking, Lord, the waves are too much,
Tired of kicking my legs to stay afloat.
We're watching and waiting, holding our breath,
awaiting your word of mercy.
Mercy, God, mercy!
We've been kicked around long enough. (123)
I know we've been here before
I know You came through in the past
If God hadn't been for us
when everyone went against us,
We would have been . . .
swept away by the flood of rage,
drowned in the torrent. (124)
I remember what it was like to be rescued
I remember the joy of solid ground
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn't believe our good fortune. (126)
It seems so far off as I continue to flail and sink
Lord, save Us, once again.
And now, God, do it again--
bring rains to our drought-stricken lives
So those who planted their crops in despair
will shout hurrahs at the harvest.
So those who went off with heavy hearts
will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing. (126)
I'm so tired, Lord, tired and angry.
We studied our crafts, we work so hard, and we still can't make it work!
It's useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your fingers to the bone.
Don't you know He enjoys giving rest to those He loves? (127)
I have been longing for another child,
When I see an infant, my lips quiver, my eyes cloud, my heart desires
But I need to know Your will.
It doesn't make sense, we can't afford it, it will add financial strain.
Don't you see that children are God's best gift?
the fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Oh, how blessed are you parents,
With your quivers full of children. (127)
Maybe this is just a coincidence, we just can't afford another child right now,
Will Lauren feel slighted by a new child? Do we need an extra bedroom?
Can we afford the doctor bills? Can I deal with morning sickness again?
You worked hard and deserve all you've got coming,
Enjoy the blessing! Revel in the goodness!
The children around your table
As fresh ad promising as young olive shoots,
Stand in awe of God's Yes.
Oh, how He blesses the one who fears God! (128)
I hear You, Lord, but in the darkness of this night,
I cry out, still drowning in this sea of numbers, bills,
There just isn't enough to make it work!
Help, God--the bottom has fallen out of my life!
Master, hear my cry for help!
I pray to God--my life a prayer--
and wait for what he'll say and do.
My life's on the line before God, my Lord,
waiting and watching till morning,
waiting and watching till morning. (130)
Ok, God, I get it. I'm not alone. I just need to wait.
There are others who have been where I am and survived.
Like a baby content in its mother's arms,
my soul is baby content.
Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope.
Hope now, hope always! (131)
But something is still wrong, Lord,
I still can't sleep, my mind is still racing.
"I'm not going to sleep,
not even take time to rest,
Until I find a home for God,
a house for the strong God of Jacob." (132)
Lord, enter in, take my mind, my heart, these fears
I give them to You, the numbers, the bills, the facts.
God stands up for his people,
God holds the hands of his people. (135)
Holy Spirit, replace the fears with Your hope,
the questions with Your answers,
the doubt with Your faith,
My weakness with Your strength.
God remembered us when we were down,
His love never quits.
Rescued us from the trampling boot,
His love never quits,
Takes care of everyone in time of need,
His love never quits. (136)
Then I feel it, peace poured over me, like a warm shower in the winter
Diving into your strength, like a cool pool in the heat of summer.
The moment I called out, You stepped in;
You made my life larger with strength. (138)

My eyelids finally rest as my heart rejoices
My minds crosses the finish line as my soul gives thanks to You.
Then I said to myself, "Oh he even sees me in the dark!
At night I am immersed in the light!
It's a fact, darkness isn't darkness to You;

Night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to You. (139)

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of sleep.
Thank You, Lord, for the gift of another day to serve You.
I will take these Psalms and call You in the morning . . .

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Defining Delight

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

"Lord, if what I ask for does not please You, neither would it please me. My desires are put into Your hands to be corrected. Strike the pen through every petition that I offer that is not right. And put in whatever I have omitted, even though I might not have desired it had I considered it." Charles Spurgeon

Defining Delight

Letting go of the seat of the bike
Believing in the rider
Falling back, arms out, legs straight
Trusting in the catch
Waving goodbye on the first day of school
Depending on the teacher
Leaping from the belly of a plane
Relying on the parachute
Not calling when he is late coming home
Confident in his safe arrival
Diving off a bridge toward a raging river
Expecting the spring in the rope
Delighting myself in You
Hoping to make You smile
Praying according to Your will
Having faith that I will meet You
In my prayers today and until the end of this life on earth
I will delight in letting go, taking risks, and trusting in You.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bare-Footed Tap Dancer

“And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26

“Prayer is not getting the Lord’s attention, but allowing Him to lead us in praying for what He is more ready to give than we may be to ask.” Lloyd John Ogilvie

Bare-Footed Tap Dancer

I went in search of the perfect prayer
When I found I could rest, just knowing You’re there.
I never volunteer to pray in a crowd.
I’m always afraid of saying the wrong thing aloud.
I got straight A’s in school and always had the answers
But in prayer, I feel like a bare footed tap dancer.
But in my home, on my porch, wherever I find a minute
I close my eyes, search the silence, and find You in it.
I come to You in that moment, though my faith is weak
Chasing after peace, Your face is all I seek.
Too many “give me”s, “help me”s, “bless me”s
Have kept you at a distance when I fall to my knees.
I just want to see You, breathe deep, and take You in,
You already know my life, my needs, my joys, my sins.
So I will try being quiet, just waiting for You to show,
I will choose to be quiet, give in, give up, let go.
I was looking for a formula, directions, a road map,
But then I stopped to listen and there it was--tap, tap tap, tap.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Back Up Plans

“But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” James : 1:6

“. . . we need not be frightened away by our doubts or our weak faith, but only tell Jesus how weak our faith is. We have let Jesus into our hearts. And he will fulfill our hearts’ desires.” O. Hallesby

Back Up Plans

Lord, forgive me for the back up plans
For thinking I’ll just try it with my own two hands.
I used to ask for help but they wouldn’t follow through
I found it was simply easier just for me to do.
I was saved from disappointment or being taken for granted
But now I know that’s how this seed of doubt was planted.
Why bother almighty God with my insignificant trials?
I’ll just add it to my “to do” list or place it on a pile.
But my true friend Jesus is ignored in the busyness
Waiting for a chance to prove His love and trustworthiness.
I can do it myself. I say I don’t want to be a bother.
But I’m missing out on the Prince of Peace and my heavenly father.
I pray for financial blessing, but still worry about bills to pay.
I pray for Godly confidence, but still wonder what people might say.
So Lord, I come before You this day to tell You my faith is weak
I want to "come boldly", but You said “blessed are the meek.”
I want to ask for my heart’s desire, yet I want Your will to be done.
Holy Spirit, form the words from my heart when my mind has none
And Lord, please forgive me for the back up plans
I now place my life in Your capable hands.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Spirit of Summer

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."
Ecclesiastes 3:1

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.”
Sir J. Lubbock

The Spirit of Summer

Wind Chimes clink
Water balloons in the kitchen sink
Porch swings where eyelids sink
Pink Lemonade to drink
More time to stop and think
In the Spirit of the Summer
Hopscotch on sidewalk chalk
Riding bikes around the block
Lawn chairs for long talks
Come on in, no need to knock
Forgetting about the clock
In the Spirit of the Summer
Nature reminding me of You
Gentle birds coo coo
Beaches sunset hue
Fluffy White against the blue
I look up to say “thank you”
For the Spirit of Summer.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Who to Trust

Don't put your life in the hands of experts who know nothing of life, of salvation life. Mere humans don't have what it takes; when they die, their projects die with them. Instead, get help from the God of Jacob, put your hope in GOD and know real blessing! Psalm 146: 3-5

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens. J.R.R. Tolkein

Who to Trust

Men may fall like sweet peaches
Smooth, fiddling, frantic
But God stands true like an old tree
Steadfast, rooted, waiting.
I dance through life like a flower in the breeze
Bending in the storms, wilting in the drought, blooming in the sunshine.
I worship the tree from below
I stand taller to be like the tree
The wind blows strong
The peaches fall around me
I will not trust the peaches, the wind, the rain, the sun.
I trust in the tree, my hero, my shelter, my God.