The sound of rain has been speaking to me all night. A quiet soothing. A lullaby. It speaks to me of God’s presence – comforting, sustaining, quiet, and still. But I have to awake to really hear the variations in between the drops. It’s a symphony with varying tones, with highs and lows. Yet if I let it fall to the background, it all really sounds the same.
God’s presence surrounds me at all times but when I pay attention I hear him in new and different ways – I pick up on the subtleties in His voice and what He may be saying to me. He is the same yet He shows Himself in new and different ways, revealing something new I did not know before.
Lord keep my eyes and my ears fresh and attuned to you. Let me not dull to your presence but to find the magic and mystery in the melody that you play over me.
“Be Still and Know That I am God” Psalm 46:10
I realize my view is often limited, yet I know there is One that always has a view of my life.
Psalm 139:16 (MSG)
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
One of the best things about making it to the top of a climb is the view. After all that work of making it to the top, the reward of looking out and over everything below makes me pause to soak it all in. It always gives me a sense of satisfaction, a sense of peace and sort of just takes my breath away. The mountaintop is a glorious place but the journey to the mountaintop…
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Whatever we let go of and surrender ,the death of that will give life to something new.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven”
The other day a friend and I shared a moment together, looking out a window and commenting on the spectacular beauty of Autumn. She shared a memory of her daughter. She was young, dancing in the falling leaves of the trees as she came home from school . As her mother, she would watch her walk up their drive with her young face full of wonder and light – that young innocence and joy – taking in the beauty and majesty of the fall season. They called it “letting go”. The trees would let go of their leaves and they would fall to the ground. When she shared this story with me it made me think of Fall as a wonderful illustration by God of surrender.
The trees let go and surrender their leaves…
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Psalm 143:8 “Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.”
The morning hours are by far my favorite moments in the day. I love waking up early and being in the stillness while the rest of the house still dreams. I can hear the crickets still singing which have not stopped yet from the night before. The air is fresh and cool. There is this overall promise of a new day and a quiet anticipation of all that it may bring. It is a time of peace. The morning reminds me as I still myself, I sense the presence of God.
In the quiet, I become more aware of His presence. As the pace of my day picks up , I begin to cook breakfast, prepare lunches and go through my to-do list. My mind starts to fill with all the day-to-day things that life brings. Yet I know in all my rushing about, He is still there. It is not that He is more present in the quiet but that I am more present.
This quiet is where I learn to be with Him, to hear Him, to sense Him. As my day and my life fill up, this practice of being in the quiet with Him starts to spill over into moments with Him even in the rush, in the hustle and bustle of my life. Like a cup being poured into, it starts to pour out of me. My quiet time with my ever-present, everyday God sets my mind, trains my thoughts and helps me to see Him and hear Him more clearly. This is sacred time. The most important hour of my day.
My morning time with Him is a gift. New beginnings. Stillness. Being in His presence. This is my time with my teacher, my guide, the Lord of my life. He acts as the lamp for my feet, the light guiding my path. Just as I treasure a date night with my husband or reading a story with my son, this too is a priority … just being with Him.
He made me for this, for relationship, with others and with Him. Through my relationship with Him, everything else in my life will come together as it should. Thus, I order my day and greet Him in the morning, happy to spend that time with Him and grateful that I have it.
May I never forget the gift of lingering in your presence and all that it brings. Thank you God.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” Romans 12:2″
As Forrest Gump says “Life is like a box of chocolates”. I love this saying and it rings true but I contend that my life is like a pot of spaghetti sauce. Sometimes it smells so good and it seems like I have it spiced just right and other times it boils over making a fragrant but a rather spicy Italian mess. Let’s face it … no one likes to walk into the kitchen and see their beautiful sauce bubbling over and making a mess.
Emotions are the same … no one likes those feelings as we sense them rise up from our bellies, you know what I am talking about … anger, despair, jealousy, anxiety, fear. I don’t want to feel that way. But the truth of the matter is I do.
Most of my life I remember growing up with this notion to be ‘true to yourself’. ‘You can’t help how you feel.’ ‘Express yourself.’ Although it is true emotions should not be stuffed or swept under a rug, feelings can be fleeting and certainly are not always reliable. They can come on strong like a hard crashing wave or they can simmer like that pot of spaghetti sauce until one day it’s a hot, bubbling mess. But feelings can be nice too, the ones we all like … happiness, comfort, joy. Like warm sunshine on my skin , these are the ones I love to hang out with.
All these feelings are part of the human experience. Even “bad” feelings can be good in their own right. They can help me sense danger, encourage me to make a change, and help me to clean up toxic patterns. We all know how freeing a good cry can be. Truth be known, my good feelings might not be so good , if I didn’t experience the bad ones too. I’d probably get complacent, bored, and not grow or stretch myself. I am learning to accept that my feelings are a very part of how God designed me and that they are nothing to be ashamed of but instead a useful tool in my walk through this life.
The problem comes when I let my emotions control me. When I don’t deal with my anger or hurt. When I let these feelings become the captain of my ship as they sail me into stormy seas. When I become the simmering then boiling pot of spaghetti sauce. This creates destruction within me and around me.
According to Anne Voskamp, “The best way to fight an emotion is with an emotion”. That is quite a simple yet brilliant statement.
No doubt when one of the less desirable feelings like anxiety comes on … it is quite difficult to try to replace it with let’s say one of gratitude. It takes intention. It takes practice. But even in that moment of my bubbled over spaghetti sauce mess … there is hope. It is possible.
It may not be immediate depending on the situation, but through a purposeful, intentional practice I start to see the world differently. Suddenly there is more and more to be grateful for. Those “bad” moments still come. Those emotions I would rather not have still come crashing in. I still have those messy spaghetti sauce moments. But through the practice of focusing my eyes on Him and what I have to be grateful for, He changes me and I start to become a little less quick to react, a little more patient, a little more understanding. Hopefully a little more like Jesus.
Write it down. Say it out loud. Literally change your attitude from the inside out by changing your perspective. Learn to say what God says and not what your feelings say. Thank Him. Declare His promises and then thank Him again.
It’s a day-to-day if not moment-to moment choice. Yet I only have to keep my eyes on this day or maybe even just this moment, on my Everyday God , and soon all these days come together and make up a month, a year, a decade, a life-time. Then I suddenly look back and see I am not the same woman I was “yesterday” and I know I won’t be the same “tomorrow” either.
In the end it’s not only a choice but it’s also an act of surrender. Surrendering my right to my emotion for something better, something that is bigger than my internal world. Something of God. And I am fortunate enough to reap the benefits. My spaghetti sauce becomes richer , with a depth of flavor and aroma I would of not known otherwise.
Everyone loves a story of transformation. We think of the caterpillar changing into a butterfly. This fuzzy little creature that now takes flight and children marvel at … we too want a life like this. We want a story to tell of how we have been transformed.
But maybe we have it wrong. Maybe we were not meant to live transformed lives , maybe we are meant to live in the very process of transformation. Maybe life is actually in the cocoon. This word transform in the past tense, is such a nice word. It has a starting and an ending , it’s the happy ending. It’s the story we all want to tell. It’s the story of the beautiful butterfly flying into the wind. But the word transformation … it is one suggesting a process that is not yet finished. An ongoing story. The cocoon can be dark, unknown, and scary. I can’t tie a pretty bow around it or put it in a neat little box. But maybe this is just how it is supposed to be.
God calls me to put my trust in Him and walk with Him where He will daily provide for me and daily transform me. From now until the day I am called home to him. I will never “arrive”. I will never reach “nirvana”. I will stumble, fall, get better, and some days I might even seem to be worse … but in it all as I follow Him he molds me, He transforms me. I learn to surrender more and more and realize the control was never even mine to begin with.
I learn to trust in the cocoon … in the dark, in the unknown. I am made to live in this process of transformation. Always seeking. Always learning. Always growing. There will always, always be more. It is not past tense , it is current tense. My transformation is now. It lives and breathes and beats with my very own heart.
I need not try to reach a particular destination. I need not dream of becoming the butterfly. I just seek His face, listen for His voice, follow His lead. It is about my relationship with Him. There is beauty in this cocoon. I surrender reaching the finish line and instead focus on being in His presence. It is in this process that I discover this art of living in transformation.
Psalm 16:11 You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.