"I hold on to You for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post..." Psalm 63

Saturday, September 26, 2009

An ancient question...

So, I'm working through this Bible Study...and today's lesson hit a mark.  We've come to a place in David's life where he's decided to do something for God.  He wants to give back, wants to honor God's faithfulness to him and his family, and upon looking around his own palace with its lush amenities it strikes him that while he has this great place to live, the Ark of the Lord's presence has spent years wandering from place to place.  With no permanent place to call "home".  So David makes this grand plan to build a resting spot for the presence of the LORD...it's with a sincere motive to honor GOD.  But, God says to David, "No...you will not build ME a home, I will build for you a home...a name for all time.  An honor far greater than what you set out to do for me."  He wanted to build David's house so that for generations to come we would all know that the One who He would send to save us all had come from the line of David.

David's overwhelmed response is this, "Who am I that you should bring my family THIS FAR?"  He's taken back..unable to understand what he could possibly have done to deserve such grace from God. 

"David voiced the sentiment of countless followers of God who have been startled by
His scandalous grace through the centuries."  Beth Moore

This struck a chord with me this morning.  How much I have to be graciously thankful for.  How unspeakably blessed my family is that HE should choose to bring us THIS FAR.  While our "THIS FAR" doesn't look like much to the world's standards, to me...because I know what I'd be if the road of life had taken me in a different direction...to me, we are FAR.  Far from what we'd be without the jolting wake up call of the last 11 years.  Far from what we'd be if life had served us a bounty of goodness on its platter.  Life today is GOOD only because God has brought us THIS FAR through some pretty rough terrain...and we've lived to proclaim it's only truly because of HIS gracious goodness to us.  It's only because HE soothes the pain and provides for the needs.  Because HE's a better daddy than one I could have picked.  Because HE knows better than I do how to stand strong in the face of unanswered questions. 

We are THIS FAR because there's a Father in heaven looking down with some enourmous amount of patience who daily lifts me off my bottom and reminds me HE is in control.  I can list a dozen things my human self would like to ask that He fix or provide, but that list is nothing but dust compared to what I have instead. 

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to His eyes...that's why I'm thanking you, God, all over the world.  That's why I'm singing songs that rhyme your name"  Psalm 18:24 & 49 (The Message)

God's plan is to mark our lives with His glory....He wants to take us THIS FAR--so far, in fact that there is no explanation but that it HAS to be God, because on our own we would wilt and curl up in the fetal position.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Breathe deep...

If it was in my power to do so, I would have erased this day from the calendar altogether....or maybe just the first half of the day. This morning I was called upon to do something I would rather not do....EVER. But, beyond my control, it had to be done...so I did it. I'll not get into the details of the task...that's not really the point here. The point is this:
Life is made up of lots of things we don't sign up for. We get called upon to handle something we don't feel qualified in the flesh to handle, and we have a choice to make. Freeze in temporary paralysis...or breathe. One deep breath at a time. At first thought, paralysis looks more inviting....and I often try it on for size first. But, as with my situation this morning, some things are just NOT going to go away and must be faced head-on. Deep breath....exhale.
I had ordered my morning in such a way as to have a few moments of quiet before I went on my way. Thankfully. In the quiet of those few moments a thought came to me that the anxiety that was welling up inside me was not of the LORD but a trick of the enemy to get my eyes OFF the One who promised to walk beside me and ONTO him. Even allowing a little anxiety was giving a piece of ME over to him. "Be anxious for NOTHING..." The moment I gave back control, I felt peace wash over me. The circumstances had not miraculously changed....but I changed the direction of my focus and gave control back where it belonged.
I still hate everything about this morning...I'm not necessarily thrilled with the outcome of it, but I've learned a few things:
1. The enemy does NOT get to say how I will respond to unpleasant situations.
2. Though he thinks he can push me to his side, the enemy does not get to take my eyes off of the One who holds me.
3. Faith means we act in accordance with what we KNOW...not in what we see.
4. All I really need to know is that I'm being obedient in my actions and my attitudes...HE is able to take care of the rest.
5. Even when things turn out contrary to what I'd like, He is still LORD over ALL things, people and situations.
Victory in a situation doesn't necessarily mean that I've gotten what I wanted or that things have turned out according to my plans. Victory means I've stood my ground, looked the enemy in the eye and walked in full confidence that he is already defeated. Victory doesn't necessarily look like victory to human eyes...

Today victory looks like a task completed, an enemy defeated and a chapter closed...
I can't ask for more than that, so I breathe deep and exhale...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another birthday...

Nicholas Christian Hershey

September 19, 1993

Today I welcome another 16 year old into my home. He's the middle child...and I guess that means in some ways it's not as shocking to me this time around. But, in light of his brother's departure to college this year, I guess I'm seeing it as not just a milestone, but as a reality check...all too soon he will be grown up and gone.

There were days when Nick was young I wondered if I'd survive his childhood...for years I didn't understand what made this cherub tick! From the day he was born, he has worn his thoughts, opinions and emotions on his sleeve...and it used to drive me crazy that he reacted OUT LOUD! Til the day I finally got wise and realized he might be the one I will have the least amount of trouble understanding because he hides NOTHING! Good, bad or ugly...it's out there for the world to see...but there's never any question about what he's going through, because he'll be the first to tell you.

I've come to realize what a blessing...albeit it often a challenge...that is. What's a kid to do when he's stuck between a clown and a princess!?!

"May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer."
Psalm 19:14

As my family has emerged through the years, I see now how God has his hand all over each one of us - shaping us by our circumstances, and drawing us closer to Him and to each other in the process. We had some really rough years early on in Nick's life. He doesn't really remember much about his dad living with us. That's rough for a kid of any age...but I marvel at the way he has acclimated to what has become normal to him. It just is what it is.

There are certainly memories of some pretty terrific fights between my boys through the years. I lost count of how many wrestling matches my livingroom floor has seen. I used to marvel how it was possible for them to be in a room together for less than 10 seconds before they were all over each other! Somewhere along the line they decided they kind of liked each other...and even though there are 3 years between them, they built a friendship that is still growing and emerging today...

This picture is priceless...I realize now how "fatherly" Alex sometimes acted towards Nick. They had a sort of unspoken understanding of each
other's struggles.

I think he's missing his big brother more today than he would dare let on!

Another priceless picture...I remember this day like yesterday...

A loving death grip!

A young man of many skills...some he has yet to realize and believe he can do. Both athletic and musical he could accel in either...should he so choose to do so! A great outdoorsman and lover of all things nature, something I saw in pure form this summer in the jungle of Africa. He loves to fix things and create things. Loves a good joke, a good action-filled movie and the company of a good friend. His heart is tender towards things that not all kids notice. Like his great grandma, and the old man who rides his bike back and forth on our street looking for cans to collect.

I wonder who the young man is that is growing inside him. I wonder what he will be and what he will do with his life. I realize that much of his personality today was there in his toddler years...that core of who he is has always been there...it's just maturing and refining. But how will it play out in his adult life? I pray he will use what he's been given for the glory of God...and the benefit of others. I see such promise in him...and not just because he's my son, but because God has made him in His own image and given him everything he needs for life and godliness...

My prayer for this young man is first and foremost that this would be his desire:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all
your soul and with all your strength."
Deut. 6:5

"He has taught you, Oh man what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love
mercy and walk humbly with your God."
Micah 6:8

Happy Birthday, Nick...

you are a joy and a delight to your mother's heart!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Peace or passiveness???

I'm not really sure where this post is going to end up...I try not to sit here until I feel like I have something to say. There's always SOMETHING to say...but it doesn't always need to be heard! This morning there are a lot of things running through my mind...some are a little choppy and fragmented...most just a conglomeration of a lot of unanswered questions.
I have more than my share of time to kill these days. I am NOT complaining...I could get used to deciding my schedule each morning. BUT, on the other hand, the fact that I have seemingly no choice in the matter brings up the point that I don't really want it to stay this way forever!
So, while I have the "luxury" of time these days, I'm doing my best to get the most out of the quiet hours. Last Thursday a new year of Bible study began at church...something I ALWAYS look forward to. The book that we're starting out with is appropriately named, "Annointed, Transformed, Redeemed" (The Study of the Life of David). I identify so much with David...I guess why I am drawn often to reading of the Psalms. I love his honesty, his pure search for God, and his freedom to cry it out "like it is". The first few years of being a single mom, these chapters were all I could seem to digest...their words held a healing balm to my oozing heart.
So, how appropriate that my healed heart should return back to David's at another time of questioning and searching for answers to my life's circumstances.
I beat myself up alot...question that I am listening correctly, following correctly, and just plain responding correctly. Lately I've been wondering why my heart is at rest to the situation in front of me:
I have no job. No sign of one in the near future. I have a business that is packed up in storage with no direction of what to do with it. I have bills. And I have a need for a man's-sized salary....and no indication of how on earth that is possible! My life could actually make a pretty funny book. Because, while there is a real LACK of resolution to so many issues (some might call it chaos, even!), there is this crazy PEACE that surrounds my daily life.
Back to my tendancy to question myself (and the reason I actually sat down to post this)...I've been questioning this peace. (Huh?!) Yes, questioning if perhaps the peace was actually disguising complacency. I question if I'm just enjoying this time so much that I don't actually want to hear the direction I should be hearing. But that makes no sense because I'm positioning myself to hear, I'm reading the Word, I'm listening to others around me and I'm pursuing the heart of God.
This morning, while sitting here to work on my Bible study

I read something that finally explained it clearly to me. I've been reading about David's pursuit of God. His desire to include Him in every decision and every action of his life. (I kind of think I'd like to meet a modern-day David...he's my kind of man!) David had been anointed by Samuel when he was 15, but he waited for 15 more years to become king of Judah...that's a long time. During that time he pursued God...made HIM an intrical part of his decision-making processes. And, when David asked...God answered....HE made HIS plans clear. And then David obeyed them. David's life was a picture of what it looks like to pursue God. And because of it, he lived a life of PEACE.
Rather than taking matters into his own hands, he asked for wisdom, waited for it (peacefully), then obeyed HIS orders.
"Peace characterizes the person who trusts God." P. Shirer
There's that word that I've been questioning in my own life...is it real or is it complacency??? The following verse, which I've read umpteen times, jumped out at me differently this morning...
"Don't worry about ANYthing; instead pray about EVERYthing. Tell God what you need and THANK Him for all He has done. THEN you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Phil 4:6-7 (NLT)
MY VERSION: I am not to worry about ANY thing. But to pray about EVERY thing. I am to lay my needs in front of Him and THANK HIm for what He's already done for me (SO MUCH!). And, after that I will experience HIS peace which will go beyond what I can understand - it will not make sense, especially when it is in the "eye" of a life of seemingly unresolved chaos....but it WILL be there. And, that peace will guide me - as long as the peace is there, I am on track - the moment it is gone, I must look to see where I left it behind to follow my own way....and go back there to resume. Where there is peace I must stay put...this peace is my compass.
DEEP BREATH....this peace is good.

Friday, September 11, 2009

It's raining cats...

There's a remake of Noah's flood forming in my basement. I knew when I heard the rain this morning that it was going to happen...it always does with a hard, steady rain. The routine is, move everything that can be moved, mop the puddles, go upstairs for an hour, then come back down to repeat the process...and pray it doesn't produce a basement full of black mold! The main culperate is an outside entrance with a drain that will not drain. So because the filled-up drain has no where to go, it sneaks under the basement door
and takes over. UGH!
Exhibit A:

(Hard to see on my phone's camera, but trust me, it's GROSS!)

In other news, the kitten has come into her own and decided that she has the run of the house. Until this week she's shied away from anything that appeared to be off limits to her. But not any more. I can't tell you how many times I've come into the room to see her sauntering across the kitchen table (with the SAME claws she just walked through her litter box in, mind you). Yesterday she ran in the bathroom and hopped on the open toilet as it was IN USE. She thinks the bathroom sink is her personal fountain. This morning she tried to climb in the tub with me. An hour ago she weaseled her way through the closed basement door to explore the flood zone. Right now she is curled in a ball sleeping on the same chair that I'M sitting on...I, for some reason, am perched on the very end so that she has enough room. WHAT ON EARTH!?!

I've decided to take back the control she somehow thinks she's gained. She can't tell me what to do or how it's going to be. She's a CAT for goodness sake, not my mom, my boss, or my child. I don't have to listen OR put up with it. Lucky for her, Emma loves her more than I do...

I'm going to go curl up on her kitty pillow and see how SHE likes it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

...from where I sit...

I woke up today with nothing on my To-do list that can't be done tomorrow...or the next day. And, if I'm not careful, I'll begin to think that my life has no real purpose for today. I'm in the silence of the waiting room...and if I don't keep on top of things, it can be a pretty lonely place to be. If I don't keep my nose in the WORD and my head at HIS FEET, my mind wanders to a place like this...

This is where I seem to be sitting today. In a dark room, with a small beam of light shining only on today...tomorrow is clouded from my view because the light shines only on what I need to know for today. Many questions go unanswered...again.
But this promise is mine:

"I love those who love me...and those who seek me find me." Proverbs 8:17
I'll find Him today...maybe not the big picture, but just the little one for today.

I'm sitting here too...in a comfy bright chair...waiting...just waiting. But apparently the word for the day is:

"STOP, I'm not ready yet...I'll let you know what you need to know WHEN you need to know. But not today. Just sit still and enjoy the comfy chair for now."

Insert whine here: "UGH!...when?"

"Maybe tomorrow...just open your eyes!"

"Stop moping about feeling in over your head...like you feel like you're being punished or put on a time-out..."

"Your time IS coming...and you won't even need to wear rose-colored glasses

to see how good it is.

Just wait..."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The nothingness of my week.....

It's Thursday already. The kids are home from school, and it just dawned on me they will be home until Tuesday. I always forget about the long weekend that they have RIGHT after they start school! I'm glad, though...while I like the routine, and was ready for it, I'd still like to hold onto the nice weather a little longer so we can be out and about without sweaters and coats. So I'm planning on enjoying this long weekend....no plans whatsoever as to how we will enjoy it, but we will!

Annual "first day of school picture"

The week has been slow-going and relaxing around the house. It'll be like this until ice hockey starts for Nick...then we'll be taxi-ing him around a couple times a week. But for now, it's been nice to ease into the week of school and chill around the house at night. It's not often that we have NOTHING to do..so I'm really enjoying it, however long it lasts!
My days have been a little like that, too! I feel a little guilty to have such time on my hands with nothing but the regular housework to tug at my schedule! I know it can't last long, so I'm trying to get as much as possible out of my free time!
The highlights of my week...
*Going to the bus stop Monday morning, even though it's not cool...ok, maybe BECAUSE it's not cool! (Who decides that anyway?!?)
*Waving goodbye to the bus
*Lots of alone time on my porch journaling and reading
*spending the WHOLE morning at Panera on the first day of school
*spending the morning at Prince Street Cafe with some of my fav youth and friends!
*spending the day with a friend consignment shopping
*spending the day at home alone doing...nothing?
Wow...doesn't sound like I did much at all that is worth any eternal value! Really...this can only last for so long....my checkbook is screaming back at me to do something about its empty pages. But I really am liking it while it lasts. AND, in the midst of all the nothingness of my days, I've done alot of thinking, planning, praying, and listening....it's not all bad to have nothing to do when you wake up in the morning! Somehow the time flies by and before I know it...or am ready for it, the bus pulls up, and the day is over.
Oops....that didn't sound nice. What I MEANT is that my quiet time is over....my time to think is over. That's what I meant.
Today's highlight...other than, of course, hearing the bus stop in front of the house to drop my children back off, was getting a phone call from Alex. An ACTUAL phone call where I get to hear his voice...not a few words typed in shorthand on a measely text! He surprised me. I've come to expect to hear nothing from him...but there he was, having dialed my number to actually TALK to ME! (I decided it really was just to talk after I waited for a few minutes for him to ask me to send money....when he didn't, I decided it was really just to talk to mom!)


Now it's dinner time and I'm unprepared. I have no excuses AT ALL! Can't think of one....maybe a pizza night?

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