Monday, July 27, 2009

Emotion. Psalms.

This post is going to be a short one... because the thing that's weighing most heavily on me tonight, the thing that I truly need to write out, may or may not be something that I share here. But, for those who may be following along in the Psalms with me...

Jump ahead to Psalm 18. I'm going to pick it up in the middle, share a few verses, and wrap it up. Meanwhile, if you would, take a minute to head over to Jennifer's blog. Her sweet son, Stellan, is struggling. Fighting for his very life. Please, take a little time out of your day to pray for him, for his parents (Jennifer and Israel), and for his doctors as they prepare for a very risky procedure.

Verses 1-3
I love You, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer;
My God is my Rock in Whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation - my stronghold.
I call to the Lord, Who is worthy of praise,
and I am saved from my enemies.

My life has not been what I would call easy. Blessed, for sure. Good, mostly. Amazing, thrilling, exhilarating? At times. But not easy. And yet, through everything... He has been there. In the darkness, in the sadness, in the hurt, He comforted. In the joy, the peace, the beauty, He showed Himself. He truly is my rock and my Deliverer. It is He who has delivered me, and it is He in whom I take refuge.

Verses 4-6
The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From His temple He heard my voice;
my cry came before Him, into His ears.

I'm not going to expound on verses four and five. They speak for themselves, and there isn't anything that I would like to say, other than "I get that."

It's verse six I want to talk about. In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. That is the only thing I could do. There wasn't strength for anything else. No earthly way forward. Men (or women) could not help. The battle was not physical, not a flesh-and-blood thing. It was (and is, and will be for the rest of my earthly life) spiritual.

It's hard, truthfully, to cry out to God when it feels like I'm failing. When that insistent little voice whispers "You did this and you never do that. Surely, God can't accept you anymore. You've gone too far, done it one too many times now." When that happens, shame rushes in and confidence is harder to grasp than the wind. It is at that time that I truly feel unworthy. And it at that time that doubt raises its ugly head, blocking my view. And it is hard, so hard, to cry out to God. And yet, it is then that I most desperately need to do just that. And it is then, when I am totally and utterly dependent on His grace, on His mercy, on the sacrifice He made and the sinless life He lived, that He has shown Himself faithful.

He has heard my cry. Not just heard... but really heard. It's not like when a bird outside serenades. When that happens, we hear the song, but we don't really hear it. Am I making sense? God hears us. Not just perceives that we are making noise, but really hears what we say.

Verses 7-18
The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because He was angry.
Smoke rose from His nostrils;
consuming fire came from His mouth,
burning coals blasted out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under His feet.
He mounted the cherubim and flew;
He soared on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness His covering, His canopy around Him -
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of His presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
He shot His arrows and scattered the enemies,
great bolts of lightning and routed them.
The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at Your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of breath from Your nostrils.
He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
He drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.

This is one of my favorite passages, because of the picture it paints. I don't know about you, but my mind works in pictures. I see the wind, the dark and swirling clouds, the lightning and parting waters. I have stood, arms thrown open wide, as a storm rushed in. I've felt every hair stand at attention in wonder.

And yet... this passage, pales in comparison to the work He has done inside of each person who allows it. It pales in comparison to what He has done in me. For me. I'm not going to draw any more parallels, not going to expound on that thought any further.

I'm ending here, with this statement. This passage, these words recorded for all eternity, bring to mind a few emotions. Awe. Wonder. A sense of being loved. But more than any of that, they bring gratitude. I am so unspeakably grateful for what He has done and Who He is. And for tonight, that is where I am going to close.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

In the Meantime...

So, as you have probably noticed, I have taken a couple days off from posting my studies from the Psalms. I have not abandoned it, nor have I abandoned this blog.

But my heart has been heavy with something... other. Something beyond my own "struggles" and my own "journey." I have been looking around myself, at the people I know. And have been struck with the struggles they are going through.

A girl a few years younger than me, desperately seeking love and acceptance. Having not found it where she expected, she's turned against her own body. She's using blades to release her frustrations, and the pain and shame that go with this cutting are stopping her from getting the help she desperately needs.

A woman several years older than I, at the end of her rope. No, not at the end. She reached the end months ago and it's no longer even in sight. A woman who last time we spoke, poured her heart out to me. The depths of anguish in her nearly broke my heart. Her desperate need for belonging, for encouragement. I want to hope for her - she doesn't have any left of her own. Watching her give up is so hard. Trying to find words to comfort her? Impossible.

A family that appears to be "together" and happy that is falling apart.

A young couple with a tiny, tiny son at home. He weighs a mere four pounds, and was born almost two months early because his sweet mommy was too sick to keep him inside any longer.

Some dear friends of ours who are struggling financially, more than my own husband and I ever have.

And these are just the ones who popped quickly into my head. There are more, people that I can't mention here because I want to protect their privacy.

But there is one more that I can mention.

His name is Stellan. He is a beautiful little boy who is right now fighting for his very life. The doctors are doing everything they can. His mommy and daddy (Jennifer and Israel) are praying and watching and holding onto their God with all that is in them. Please, pray with me for this little one. His heart needs to slow down, and it needs to slow down now. Whether this happens by some blatant miracle, or whether the doctors finally find something that works, doesn't matter. For more information, you can go to My Charming Kids.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Psalm 16

Tonight, I read through three chapters in the book of Psalms. Not because chapters 14 and 15 weren't good, but because I just didn't find much "emotion" in them. It may well be that it's there, and I don't see (or feel) it. Regardless, I am going with chapter 16 tonight. Are you coming too?

Verse 1:
Keep me safe, O God,
for in You I take refuge.

Do you do this? I try to do this. But sometimes... sometimes, I want something more tangible. Something that takes less faith. In those times, I turn to other people. To ideas or concepts. To technology. Not that any of those things are wrong. I believe if it will help, go for it. It's just... that needs to be done while trusting God. While taking refuge in HIM. Because ultimately, He is our protector, our refuge. The only place, the only One, in whom we can truly take refuge.

Verse 2:
I said to the Lord, "You are my Lord;
apart from You I have no good thing."

Have you ever seen the verse that says every good and perfect thing is from God? I have. This verse invokes... gratitude. And utter and total dependence. With God... good things. Without God? No good things. Sure, there are things that aren't obviously attached to or dependent on or directly sent from God. But really, in light of knowing and walking with Him, everything pales and just doesn't seem so good anymore.

Verses 3&4:
As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those will increase
who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.

Verses 5 & 6:
Lord, You have assigned me my portion and my cup;
You have made my lot secure.
The boundry lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
Surely I have a delightful inheritance.

I relate to this. Not so much to the portion and cup part... but to the secure lot and the pleasant places. I look around me right now, and here is what I see. I see trees - our home is surrounded by trees. Big, old, healthy trees. Through the trees, I see clouds, lit up with the reds of sunset. I smell flowers and freshly mown grass. If I mute the music, I hear birds singing. No cars, no machines. It's peaceful here. Beautiful. Pleasant. Delightful, even.

Verse 7:
I will praise the Lord, Who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.

This one is interesting. God has never spoken audibly to me. But He has spoken to my heart in a voice so consuming that there would be no possible way to ignore it. He's counseled me in the dark of night, and in the bright glaring light of day. He has never left me to "figure it out myself." And I am so, so thankful. I praise Him for it.

And now, sleep is calling me. Stay tuned tomorrow night - I'll finish up, starting with verse 8.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Psalm 13. At last.

Psalm 13.

Verse 1:
How long, O LORD?
Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

Have you ever felt like God has forgotten you? My immediate response to that question was "No, never." But then, I thought about it some more. I've never felt like God has forgotten me. I've been raised to know that that's impossible. But I have felt like He's forgotten to answer. I've prayed, and waited for the answer for days. When the days turned into weeks, and then months, and even years... it really did feel almost like He'd forgotten to answer. Like maybe that one prayer slipped by unnoticed. Have you ever felt that way?

David then asks God how long He'll hide His face from him. I've felt like God must surely be hiding his face from me. But when I really consider myself... God isn't hiding His face from me at all. Rather, I am putting things between Him and I, things that make it difficult, if not impossible to see Him. He has never turned away, and promises that He never will. And yet... haven't we all felt sometimes that God must be hiding from us?

Verse 2:
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

This is one that makes me wish I could say "I don't get it." I wish that I didn't know what david is talking about here... I wish I didn't know what it is like to "have sorrow in my heart" every day. But I do. And I've wrestled with my thoughts. Oh, how I've wrestled. Not as much recently, but it hasn't been so long that I've forgotten. Not even close to that long.

And when I was wrestling, when there was sorrow in my heart every day... it really did feel like my enemy, the enemy of my very soul, was triumphing over me. Have you ever felt that defeated?

Verses 3 & 4:
Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

Here is where this gets heavy. You can think whatever you want, but to me, this verse talks about suicide. I suspect that many people have wrestled with the idea. I know some who have given in to it. Who have yielded to the pressure, who have been unable to fight any longer. People who took steps to end their lives. Most of them were not successful. Most.

It seems hard to fathom that David, DAVID, wrestled with that temptation. Out of everyone we read about in the Bible, David seems so very close to God. He loves Him so intensely. Seeks Him earnestly. Clearly has an active, full relationship with Him. And in spite of that... he is wrestling with this?

If you are wrestling with those thoughts tonight - thoughts that maybe your life isn't worth living any longer - please, please don't stop reading here. You need to know something: God loves you. He has a plan for you. A good plan, a plan to bless you and give you hope for the future. There is help for you. Pray, ask God to bring you comfort. And please, reach out. There are so many ways to get assistance. You can call 911. Call or go to any emergency room. Call 1-800-273-TALK.

I end where David did. I have gone through the first four verses. I'm not referring only to going through them in study. I mean I have gone through them, in life. And now, I can say with David:

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,

for he has been good to me.

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Rescue Me

I'm going to take a moment and be transparent. If you read here often, you'll know that this transparency thing is something I've been working on this past year. Obviously, there are things that should most decidedly not be published for the world to see. Beyond those, there are things that should be even more closely guarded. But there are also times when letting others see our weakness can be of benefit to them. Times when admitting that we don't "have it all together" can do so much to encourage others.

Truth is, I have been struggling for over a year now. With the same things. I really, truthfully cannot share those things here - it wouldn't be prudent, and it wouldn't help anybody to know. But I can share little pieces of the struggle.

I can share that calling it a struggle is sort of like calling a tsunami a wave. Technically true, but an understatement of gargantuan proportions. I think calling it an all out war would be more accurate.

It's been exhausting, mentally, emotionally, physically. And as often happens, that exhaustion has spilled over into my spiritual life. I can't even begin to describe how much I am depending on God's grace right now. Grace, and mercy. And love. Love that has absolutely nothing to do with who I am or what I do, but everything to do with Who He is, and what He has done.

I have good news, though. Recent weeks have seen a turn around during my devotional time. And a turn around in other areas. In some ways, it is as though everything has exploded and there is no way I can keep going. In other ways, it is as though I have never been so utterly dependent on Him, and so thoroughly awestruck by His unfailing, unwavering, unchanging love. There's more battles to be fought. I don't know how many, or for how long. I don't know what victory will entail. But I do know that He is faithful.

And days like this, days when I am desperate for Him, when I am at the end of myself, I can relate to Peter. I feel like I've stepped out of the boat in the midst of the storm. I've just walked across water, and it is an amazing, incredible feeling. And now, having taken my eyes off of Him for just a moment to consider the storm raging around me, I am sinking. I am realizing that I just cannot do this on my own. There is no way. And like Peter, I don't have the time or the energy to come up with an eloquent prayer that will be passed down for generations to come. Tonight, Peter's prayer is my prayer.

"Lord, rescue me."

Selah is one of my favorite groups. Not because of their impressive stage presence or deeply profound lyrics. It's their genuine faith and desire to honor and glorify God that attracts me. But I would be lying if I didn't say that one particular song of theirs struck something inside of me tonight. I've added the lyrics to the end of this post, and put the song itself at the top of my playlist for now. You can open my playlist and listen to music while you browse by clicking on the "Music" link in the column on the right.

Rescue Me
(C) Selah

Deep is the river that I have to cross
Heavy the weight on my shoulder
I have discovered how great is the cost
Of trying alone to cross over
I try and I try but the current's too strong
It's pulling me under and my strength is gone
Don't leave me stranded

Rescue me, my God and my King
The waters are rising and I cannot breathe
Wrap your arms all around me and
Carry me over
Rescue me
Carry me over

There is a bridge that is easy to cross
While all of our burdens are lifted
Peace is the land that is waiting for us
Lord give me faith to believe it
Cause I'm in a storm but I'm willing to fight
I'll overcome and I will not die
With You by my side

Rescue me, my God and my King
The waters are rising and I cannot breathe
Wrap your arms all around me and
Carry me over
Rescue me
Carry me over

I will sail over the oceans and
High over the mountains and
Soar up to the heavens
Here is my hand
Is my heart and my soul and my mind

Rescue me, my God and my King
The waters are rising and I cannot breathe
Wrap Your arms all around me and
Carry me over
Rescue me, my God and my King
You are the only one who can save me
Wrap your arms all around me and
Carry me over
Rescue me

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Psalm 13

This one is a bit... heavier... than I normally would post here. I'm not going to avoid it or sidestep it, but I am going to take another day to really consider it, to ponder it. To pray over what to say here. Tonight, I am not really in a position to comment on any scripture. So I'll post it in a couple of versions. If you have any thoughts you would like to share on the passage, please do. You can leave a comment (hidden until I approve them) or use the link over on the right. If I don't receive anything before I post, it will be all me. If I do receive something (or many somethings), I'll include them in the post.

Without further words on my part, here is Psalm 13.

How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;

my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Not Me Monday

In light of the new "Not Me Monday" banner, I am writing a new "Not Me Monday" introduction for my blog.

I'm distinctly lacking in inspiration tonight, though, so you'll have to wait until next Monday to read it. Which leads me into the "meat" of this post.

I would never simply direct my readers to head over to MckMama's blog for an explanation of what "Not Me Monday" is really about, instead of telling you myself.

I would also never create a ridiculously detailed binder of processes for a job - and then, five years later, pass that binder on to someone who is now training for that job. Because I'm not a list maker or note taker. Seriously. I'm not. And because of that, I wouldn't make that binder. But if I did, I'm sure my pack-rat habits would dictate that the binder still be present in my home.

I did not hire a photographer for my best friend's wedding because I found her through MckMama's blog. But if I did, it wouldn't be just based on that - it would also be because I met her six years ago. At a park in a nearby city. And I saw her a few times after that. So I do technically sort of know her from real life. But since I would never hire a photographer because I found her on a complete stranger's blog, it doesn't really matter, does it? If you are curious about this mystery photographer that I did not hire, you can check her out over at Sailor and Company. Sami, if you read this... see you in October. :)

I did not ride 17.63 miles yesterday on a bike with a seat designed for... well, for something other than riding 17.63 miles. And today, I am not finding it difficult to sit in any of the traditional "sitting positions" because of it. And if that were so, that discomfort is surely something too personal to share in such a public forum. Right?

I am not sleepy. And I am not going to bed having only written a pathetically short Emotions from the Psalms post and an almost as pathetic "Not Me Monday" post. Because I have nothing better to do at night than blog. Or something.

Oh... and when I ran spell check on this post, I did not contemplate gloating about the fact that it only found one error. Because I'm not that shallow. I only post about important and significant achievements. Not silly things like proper spelling.

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Psalm 12

Tonight, I am in Psalm 12. I don't know why, but I'm struggling to pull emotion from it. Perhaps it's exhaustion, perhaps it's simply the power of distraction. Either way, rather than skip posting all together as I have the last couple days, I'll share the two verses that did something to me.

Verse 5:
"Because of the oppression of the weak
and the groaning of the needy,
I will now arise," says the LORD.
"I will protect them from those who malign them."

I thought this was interesting. There's nothing here about eloquent prayers or selfless giving. There's no indication that the weak and needy did anything at all to "earn" God's favor. A mere expression of emotion - not even words, but just a groan - moved God to action. In the past, I've always tried to keep emotion out of my prayers. Wanting to be a "good Christian" and wanting to be "above" letting emotions have any say in my life. Here, a part of God's character is revealed. A part where He is moved by emotions. A part where people express those emotions, when words fail.

His response to the groans? "I will arise. I will protect them from those who malign them." Powerful words, when you consider the Source.

Verse 6:
And the words of the LORD are flawless,
like silver refined in a furnace of clay,
purified seven times.

This says what I would like to say. God's Words are flawless. He cannot and does not lie. Ever. He doesn't change. Doesn't waver. So His response here? It's the same response He would have today, for me, if my emotions were overwhelming. If my needs were so great that all I could do was groan, He'd respond.

Pretty amazing, if you ask me.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Psalm 8

No expounding tonight. No words of my own. I'm taking a small step back and I'm just going to let king David speak for me.

O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,
the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth

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Remember this?

I learned something with this recent wedding.... NEVER edit tired. It goes poorly. It gets frustrating, vision fails, brainwaves cease, and it is general just... well, it yields pictures like this:

But if you take that SAME image, and try it when you're not so tired, and further away from sleep, you might like the results a bit better...

I'm still kicking myself for accidentally deleting the copy of this shot that was properly exposed (that's what happens when you let yourself delete shots while waiting for the wedding to start). But at least it was somewhat salvagable...

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Say What Wednesday

We all do it. I think. Regardless, I know that many of us sometimes let words come out of our mouths that just make us go "Huh?" Or sometimes, words that make everybody around us crack up.
So, without further introduction, here is my "Say What?! Wednesday" post. And yes, I know it's Thursday today. But I am going to post this with a publish date of Wednesday. Because that makes me look like I remembered to do this yesterday. Or something...
So today, I was talking with a couple coworkers. I told one of them, "Derek told me to ask you to sing the song about the mouse in a bar." I have no idea what this song is, but I've been told it's funny. So I wanted to hear it. She looked at me kind of wierd. I continued on, "Derek tells me to do things a lot because he thinks they'll be fun." And then one of my coworkers snorted. She snorted because she was holding in laughter. Because according to her, it was a sort of... off-sounding statement.
I began a message that I left for a customer today with the following words... "Thank you for calling _____, the best value in wireless. My name is Jennifer..." I froze. I had called them, not the other way around. I continued on, though, trying to cover my error. "Hehe. That is what I'd say if you had called me. But I called you. To find out if you need any further assistance with your account." And waited for the option to review or delete my message. It never came. They'll get my special message tonight. And I bet they don't want my help with anything else.
I know that these are weak examples, but seeing as how it's a day late anyway, I'm allowed.
My last one is a joke. Told by our trainer at work. Who is infamous for... less-than-humerous jokes that get everybody laughing because of how funny he thinks they are.
I had just entered some information backwards into a search tool, and told him so. He laughed. And shouted, with Superman-esque enthusiasm, "Dyslexics of the world... UNTIE!" He is dyslexic. So it's okay for him to say that. And yes, I do mean UNTIE. Not unite.
Please, bail me out here folks... what did yousay or hear this week that made you go, "Say what?!"

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Psalm 6

Tonight, I am back to the sixth Psalm. As I mentioned before, I have been given an assignment of sorts. An assignment to focus on the relationship David has with His God. More specifically, to focus on his emotions and how they play into that relationship. I'm trusting the Holy Spirit to reveal to me the character and nature of God, and to help me as I relate to Him.

I've actually been in the sixth Psalm since Saturday. I've labored over whether to post it or not. My conclusion? Share some things, in hopes that it will help or bless those who read. Because really, I don't have anything to prove. That's not the point of this assignment - right or wrong. The point is to grow. To learn. To develop.

My words aren't annointed or inspired. They are simply... me. And as my Pastor has shared, life is life for everyone. And since that is true, I want to share a bit of mine.

Verse 1: O Lord, rebuke me not in Your anger nor discipline and chasten me in Your hot displeasure.

I'm struggling to relate to this emotion. You see, I'm blessed in the realm of discipline, chastening, and rebuking. Not blessed as in able to do them all very well. But blessed in that I've learned that these things, when done according to their actual purpose, are done out of love. I sort of "got it" after being on the receiving end several times. But I really got that when I had the awesome privelage of being a nanny for an amazing little boy. As he grew, so did the love I had for him. When he got old enough to start making rational choices, I found myself rebuking him. Correcting. Chastening. And you know what? I did it purely out of love. Because I loved him too much to let him continue on in error.

Even so, I can relate, a little, to the emotion that David may have felt here. Because, love or not, being rebuked is never fun at the time. And there is still that tiny, almost non-existant pretty big part of me that doesn't want anybody to know about any of my faults. And for rebuking, chastening, or correcting... my faults need to be known.

Verses 2 and 3: Have mercy on me and be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am weak (faint and withered away); O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled. My [inner] self [as well as my body] is also exceedingly disturbed and troubled. But You, O Lord, how long [until You return and speak peace to me]?

These two verses? I get these. I've been weak. So weak that I despaired for my life. Emotionally empty and drained. And when that happened, my body suffered for it. It was truly as if my very bones were troubled. This emotion... dispair, desperation, fear, and just a tiny sliver of hope... a tiny sliver that says maybe it could be better. A tiny sliver that gives us the courage to cry out to God.

Verse 4: Return [to my relief], O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of Your steadfast love and mercy.

I've prayed for this. I've prayed that God would come in, and change my heart. That He would change my life. Deliver me. Not because I deserve it - truth be told, none of us do. I don't know all the sins of anybody - except for me. I know what I do. I know what I say, what I think. I know my intentions and secret thoughts. And in light of those, I am desperately dependent on God's steadfast love and mercy. Without it, I am entirely without hope. And with it? Well... you get the idea.

I'm going to skip over verse 5, since I have nothing to say about it. But you can read it - in any Bible.

For tonight, I'm ending with verses 6 and 7.

I am weary with my groaning; all night I soak my pillow with tears, I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye grows dim because of grief; it grows old because of all my enemies.

Have you ever been in there? Has the light of dawn ever illuminated your pillow, revealing the wetness of countless tears? Have you ever spent an entire night so distraught that you were unable to sleep at all?

I have. This is what David is talking about. True sorrow. True grief. Heartbreak. I've been there. I suspect, if you've been living life very long at all, you have too. The thing I am taking from this passage tonight, and applying to my own life, is this:

I do not have to hide my sorrow, my tears, my pain, from God. I can pour them out to Him. It's appropriate. Acceptable. And when I am overwhelmed? When my vision truly grows dim with sorrow? Call out to Him. Here, David is our example.

What have you learned from this passage? Does it strike a chord somewhere in you? It may be (in fact, it probably is) that you get something so very different from what I got. I'd love to hear. Leave a comment on this post, or you can use the link on the right hand side of the page. All comments on this blog are moderated, so if you'd prefer to keep the comment just between us, just say so and I will respect that.

Good night, and God bless.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Not Me. Not Today.

The past week was long, busy, and not the easiest of weeks. In light of that, I will not be doing a "Not Me Monday" post today. You can head over to MckMama's blog to check out other people's "Not Me's."

As for me, I am going to bed.

Tomorrow, you can expect another "emotion from Psalms" post. I've been keeping up with the reading - just not with the posting of the reading.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

This Weekend...

This weekend, my husband and I shot a wedding. It was his first. He did pretty well. I haven't really gotten to his shots yet, but here is a handful that I took and like.

I've been told that all brides are beautiful.... but seriously, Rachael was absolutely stunning. I loved watching the two of them interact. The way they look at eachother is priceles...

Rachael has two beautiful daughters. The shot came out... a little bit underexposed. So I had to do some editing and softening to get rid of the pixelated look. I'm not sure what else to do... I just know it feels incomplete some how.

Lastly... I like this shot. This little girl goes to our church. She's a beautiful little girl... with a lot of spunk. Just a few seconds after I snapped this, she started chasing another kid with that bat.

This wedding was very special to me. I've been praying for this woman for a long time. Praying that she'd keep her fervency for God. That she'd never forget who she is in Him, or what He's done for her. That she would meet that special man who would treat her, and her children, with respect and a gentle, patient love. And would be as on fire for God as she is.
This weekend, I got a special treat. I got to watch the answer to that prayer play out in front of me. I know that I am not the only one who prayed. My prayer now is different. It's thanksgiving for this man and woman. It's a request for ever-increasing grace and mercy. For a peaceful home. For an uncommon ease in uniting. And it's for the kids - that they would easily and quickly get used to having Jonny around.
Congratulations, both of you!

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Psalm 5

(vs.1) Lord, listen to my words. Understand my sadness.

David doesn't leave anything up to chance here. There's no guessing how he feels - he comes out and says it straight up. He's feeling sad. This caught my attention - directness is something I not only prefer, but in many situations, need.

(vs.2, 3) Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, because I pray to you. Lord, every morning you hear my voice. Every morning, I tell you what I need, and I wait for your answer.

These next two verses show me how David dealt with his sadness. I notice he didn't hide it. He didn't pretend it didn't exist. He didn't whisper for help - he cried for it. He expresses no remorse for his sadness. Merely a statement that it is, and that he has given it to God.

(vs. 4-8) You are not a God who is pleased with the wicked; you do not live with those who do evil. Those people who make fun of you cannot stand before you. You hate all those who do evil. You destroy liars; the Lord hates those who kill and trick others. Because of your great love, I can come into your Temple. Because I fear and respect you, I can worship in your holy Temple. Lord, since I have many enemies, show me the right thing to do. Show me clearly how you want me to live.

The one thing I relate to here, is David's request for God to show him the right thing to do about his enemies. I've prayed this same prayer, earnestly. Lord, show me what to do. Show me how to let your love move through me, show me how to live. Teach me how to behave toward them.

(vs. 9,10) My enemies' mouths do not tell the truth; in their hearts they want to destroy others. Their throats are like open graves; they use their tongues for telling lies. God, declare them guilty! Let them fall into their own traps. Send them away because their sins are many; they have turned against you.

Okay. I really get this. David is sad. And what's on his mind? The decietful nature of his enemies. There is little that people can do that hurts me more than when they lie to me. Or in front of me. God tells us to love truth. And I do. And I hate lies. The absolute worst lies of all? The ones that hurt me deeper than any others? The ones that escape my own mouth.

(vs. 11,12) But let everyone who trusts you be happy; let them sing glad songs forever. Protect those who love you and who are happy because of you. Lord, you bless those who do what is right; you protect them like a soldier's shield.

I trust God. And I sing glad songs to Him. I try to do what's right. And when I really consider what this means? What an awesome reason to be happy. So awesome, that in the midst of all the storms life can throw at me, I still have something to be happy about. What about you?

I've got a post about that very thing rolling around in my head, actually. I will be working on it in the coming weeks. Meanwhile... you could comment here and let me know how you keep your focus on the one thing we really have to be happy about. And not just happy... joyful even. What have you done so that you don't "lose your joy" in the middle of life's trials? If you wouldn't object, I will take the comments I receive and make a whole other post about them.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Say What?! Wednesday

So, I was thinking today, about the things that we sometimes say that just come out so... wrong. Not the serious things. But the funny ones. And I decided I'm gonna maybe try hosting my very own blog festival thingy... for me and all SIX of my regular readers. Yes, I know who you are. Okay. Not really. At least, not most of you.
Anyway. I have six regular readers who CONFESS their readership. For the rest of you - this is your chance to step out and participate.
In a manner similar to MckMama, I am going to begin hosting Say What?! Wednesday. The point? Well, you know those times when, with perfectly good intentions, we say exactly what we mean... only it doesn't quite come out right? Or someone else says something to you, and all you can do in response is laugh, or scratch your head in confusion? This is your chance to share those silly things, and get a good laugh. Of course, I am stepping out and taking a risk that nobody will post... in which case, I will sheepishly move this back to some previous, long-forgotten date, and try again next week. So either grab a button (on the sidebar) for your own blog, or add your own Say What?! to the comments on this post.
Anyway... here are my Say What?! moments.
The first, I confess, is sort of old. I may have even mentioned it here. But I'm saying it again. I received an e-mail requesting my assistance with a baby bird. In which the sender, who did genuinely want to help this little bird. But I'm thinking that his or her true intentions didn't quite come through...
"I've put it in a flower pot, with grass. On the trampoline."
Okay... where does one even start with that?
The second is also something someone else said. I'm not sure what, exactly, it was that they said. Because it was in a different language. Where I work, we take incoming customer service calls from business customers. We speak to a lot of people from all walks of life, and it's a lot of fun. Often times, to resolve the issue that we get called about, we need to call customer's back.
Yesterday, I had the joy of speaking to the King of Zamunda. Okay. Not really. But if you've ever seen "Coming To America" you'll know who I mean when I refer to the King of Zamunda. I talked to a guy who sounded EXACTLY like that. I held in my laughter during the entire call. But when I called him back to let him know I'd been able to fix the problem with his account, I actually had to hang up on the voicemail message because I could not quit laughing.
Seriously. I don't know what language he speaks. I just know I didn't understand a single word. Except the last word. Which probably means something serious in his language, but sounded exactly, completely, and 100% like he said "Hubba HUBBA." As in the sound that people on older television shows say when they see someone attractive. He ended his voicemail message with this. In his King of Zamunda voice. Yeah. It doesn't seem nearly so funny when I type it out.
Lastly, tonight, I went for a nice walk with my husband. I smiled at him and said "I've prayed before all of my weddings." It took a second to realize what I'd just said. What I meant was that when I photograph a wedding, I always pray first. But that's not what I said.

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Psalm 4

Today, I was caught when I read verse seven of Psalm 4. But the joy that you have given me... joy. It's not so much an emotion... but in some ways, it is. It's that calm, unshakable assurance. It's not based on how it feels... but it does feel good. So... I kept going, with that joy in the back of my mind (or in the front... or where ever thoughts go when they're almost the focus of your attention). When I lie down, I go to sleep in peace.

Can I be real for just a minute? Not that I make a habit of being fake when I write here, but I don't always let you (readers) see my struggles. Sleep is the one activity in life I struggle most with. I've seen doctors, talked to helpful, well meaning people. Taken medication, tried all manner of natural "sleep aids" and "sleep enhancers." Developed a bedtime routine. Learned to keep my mind carefully in check. And the truth? Tonight, when I do fall asleep, it will be with the assistance of the two little pills I just swallowed. I don't like that. I would prefer not to admit that I need that help. But, it's true whether I admit it or not.

And if I were to lie down, with no medication, and I were to sleep all night? Well, I would definitely relate to the joy that David is talking about here. There have been brief seasons in my life where sleep has come easily. Read these two verses with me.

Psalm 4:7,8
But the joy that you have given me is more than they will ever have with all their grain and wine. When I lie down, I go to sleep in peace; you alone, O LORD, keep me perfectly safe.

He keeps me safe. Perfectly safe. Not mostly safe. Not almost safe. But perfectly safe. Because of Him, the Almighty King, I can do what Psalm 4:9 says.

Psalm 4:8, CEV:
I can lie down and sleep soundly because you, LORD, will keep me safe.

Tonight, this is what I'm saying. I may not actually believe it the way I should. My faith may be shakey, and I may be fighting thoughts of "yeah, but..." I may have just swallowed two little pills, and it may be that I feel guilty for even needing that. But I'm growing. God loves me too much to leave me the same. And so, I will say tonight...

I can lie down and sleep soundly, because my GOD will keep me safe.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Psalm 1

I've been given an "assignment" of sorts... for the next two months, I will spend time each day in the Psalms. I'm focusing on the relationship David has there, with his God. And learning from it. Praying. Trusting the Holy Spirit to reveal to me the character and nature of God, and to help me as I relate to Him. I'm going to try to post each day as I go.

I'm starting with Psalm 1, the whole thing.

Happy are those who reject the advice of evil people, who do not follow the example of sinners or join those who have no use for God. Instead, they find joy in obeying the Law of the LORD, and they study it day and night.

They are like trees that grow beside a stream, that bear fruit at the right time, and whose leaves do not dry up. They succeed in everything they do. But evil people are not like this at all; they are like straw that the wind blows away. Sinners will be condemned by God and kept apart from God's own people. The righteous are guided and protected by the LORD, but the evil are on the way to their doom.

To be honest, I often times struggle with emotions - how to feel about things, and how to act in light of those feeligns. For lots of reasons, one of which is my distinctly Norwegian heritage. Here, it says that the people who reject the advice of evil people (I do), and if I do not follow the example of sinners or join those who have no use for God, I will be happy. At least, that's how I read it. I do find joy in obeying the Law of the Lord. I don't study His word as I should, but I am trying. And the more I do, the more complete I am. And this, really, is something to be happy about.

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