Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve

Man it's been a long while since I have blogged.  I have been in survival mode, fighting through, keep'n my gaze high as I can, sloughing the mud off and out of my eyes, and trusting that there was some reason for this trench.  Things have been shifting in me in the last few weeks....

I am starting to dream again.  I am starting to gaze through the grey and see sunshine and possibilities in the clouds!  Yet, I believe it's more than mere possibilities, I believe its the edges of the reality of who and what I am.

I have learned a lot.  God has given me mooch-o much, that I can't hoard - hoarding kills life.  So, I want to share all HE has given me and proclaim that HE DOES give life abundantly.  He has created us to live... to glorify and honor our Maker.

That is what I intend to do, starting now.

Since you are trekking with me, you have seen my journey, my "a-ha" moments and dismal days.  I have fought many years to "find" my purpose and calling, all the while believing that I (we all) have a significant purpose in being here, now!

So I am following some advice that has come my way, it lies at the core of what I believe in... but I have lacked the guts to follow.

From this day forward, I am moving towards what gives me life and energy and laying down the white flag on all other endeavors which have drained me of joy.

No more defining "life is hard" because hard is letting circumstances define my days; hard says I am weak.  In some respect, yes, I a very weak but I believe through Christ, I am more than a conquerer, I am strong in Him and who He designed me to be.  Now, when I try to be something I am not... well, that is weak, that is hard.

This evening a dear friend shared a website with me, someone who uses her passions to fuel her living - monetarily and significantly.  I read a few things on her site, and this blog post about NOT FIGHTING rings true in me.

I have faced down a lot of fears in me, the lie that states "I am not enough" or "I am not acceptable" - Through the truth of who God says I am:

Today, I am choosing to live in my Maker's Design of me - His Daughter, His beloved child - forgiven, chosen, blessed.

Won't you join me?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"I Shall Not Want" - Audrey Assad

Every now and than a song comes along that weaves words into melody, and carries the words and cries of my heart perfectly.  This masterpiece draws upon Psalm 23, which is a familiar passage to many but one that has grown in depth of meaning to me, as God has drawn me by His Light and Revelation, beneath the words to His Spirit and Life.

"I Shall Not Want" Lyrics:

From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
when I taste Your goodness I shall not want
when I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Songs on Saturday

When one works a long full week, Saturday is always a welcome gift.  I pretty much face-planted into the weekend.  It was a long, not-bad, hard week.  I celebrated by watching two episodes of Foyle's War and popping an herbal sleep supplement before finding slumber last night.  

Not sure if it was the effect of the supplement or if I was just that tired, but I slept hard, even with Kitty's 2:30AM food demand.  I came to consciousness around 7:30, knowing I had to be on my way to an appointment by 8:30.  I stumbled out of the house by 8:27 still feeling in a fog and not fully conscious.  I brought Sasha along as I felt some guilt in neglecting her and wanted to go for a jaunt in a local trail on my way home from town.  

All in all, my first two hours of Saturday were spent doing things I normally find delight and joy yet as I stomped through the local woods, I was anything but delighted or joyed.  An all too familiar rant of complain was drizzling down through my brain.  I thankfully have come along in understanding that sometimes when we hear ourselves with a certain tone and volume, it's really because we are just in need of rest.  So, I did not take myself too seriously and drove home in need of coffee and time in His Word.

The first sips of my coffee were good, as I opened my Bible to my scheduled reading.  I saw the passages listed and loudly moaned as I realized my scheduled reading included the first few chapters of Song of Solomon, with the normal Psalms and Proverbs and New Testament portion.  

"Lord,... I really don't want to read Song of Solomon today.  Lord... ugh, I just don't know if I can handle reading about lovers and sex today."  

Sometimes, as a single, it's just a book I would like to skip.  

The Psalm was 101, ascribing God's love and justice, and a question, "oh when will you come to me?"

I read through each passage and then began combing through, focusing on God's character. 

I was still in a funk, and the passage seemed to taunt me.  But then as I looked over it, I realized the question was from God, to me.  

“Oh when will you come to me, Tammie?”

Then I saw Him, covering me with His loving gentle embrace, in the Songs passage.  His love for me is passionate, pursuing, faithful and strong.  He was inviting me to see Him, in His Love, and justice, as always, My Shepherd, and Lover of my soul, guiding me in the right path, always illuminating Himself to me.

Again, and again... grace, upon grace.

My tired soul breathed in the fresh Manna He provided.

My complaints He tenderly washed away in His Presence.

And I rejoiced.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Land of 40 ~ Love Story

I am really in the fourth decade of my life now.  Hitting 40 was indeed a milestone, and now I pass the first marker of this 4th decade.

I can't say that with much hoopla, to be honest.  Lately I am looking a little more carefully in the mirror for lines that were not there yesterday, thinking more about how many days it's been since my last good work out and that it only takes three days of non-aerobic work for your muscles to begin to atrophy.  Ugh... I don't want to look old, but I feel older!  My body is not wanting to move like I did a few years ago.  I even got bi-focals this past year, which at the time made me happy cause I was having a hard time seeing but that is what OLD people have!

41.... oh man.

But, I enjoyed my birthday with many well wishes on Facebook, and many texts, a skype call and a few phone calls.  I feel loved.  I feel thankful.

And, I am noticing that a year is moving along much quicker.  I now see the year ahead as 180 school days until summer comes again. Yes, I loved my summer and a year counted off in school days is much  easier to measure.  Yet that means Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, and Christmas, and Spring and then... we will be finished with another school year.  Oh summer, how I love you.  Then another birthday will pop up... I can wait on that, I don't want it to come that quickly.

I hope, and pray that the days between now and then will be full of life and love.  I hope, and dream of love to come, as I hope every year, that maybe this year a love story will be written.

But this year.... I will realize a greater love story for you see I want to love more.

You see, I am grasping His love for me more and more, and as I do that I realize my purpose more and more, and that is to love!

He has a purpose for me this 41st year: To love more because I am loved.   I believe that may be the secret to living, for when we love and know we are loved, we live!

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand
    when I awake, I am still with you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ConnectedSoulGrief ~ Robin Williams

My soul is so grieved over the loss of Robin Williams.

It seems so odd that I would feel such grief over someone I did not personally know.  I know many grieve this loss, and deeply so.

So this morning I stopped and asked, why does this affect me so?

He connected with my soul.

There was something in Robin Williams, the characters he brought to life, that connected with something in me.  He made us laugh indeed, but his dramatic performances also made us feel, there was such an authenticity in his characters.   Some of my favorite films were Patch Adams, Good Will Hunting, Awakenings.   Some of his roles were not exactly where I stand on my values and convictions, so I can't endorse everything ethically and morally.  Sadly and obviously, the spiritual state and direction of our culture is expressed in the arts.  Yet as an actor, he was able to embody and connect us to the cry of the human soul; he voiced, questioned, made us feel, ask and laugh.  He bridged souls, hearts and emotion.

But maybe it was his deep pain and loneliness that truly connected us all. He laughed and was a delight, as there was a gentle, touchable soul behind his blue eyes.  He seemed to be the kind of person who could be that friend you could enjoy a long walk on the beach with, or sit silently in the backyard to watch the stars.  He was so transparent over the pain behind the humor, we could have been transparent right back.

Many years ago, I saw a clip from a stand-up act he did, within the few minutes of his routine, he made a very crass joke about our human form and design.  He mocked The Creator's design.  In that moment, I saw such agony and anger in him, towards God.  A sad soul, searching, asking, demanding and lost, laughing through the pain.

I saw the anguish of his soul and my heart broke for him.

I don't know if Williams ever really saw or heard his Creator as a Redeemer, Savior, Lord, but he hurt, so he made it funny.  We laughed along, maybe because we identify with the pain.

My heart breaks now as I know he has stepped through the veil of eternity, facing his Creator now.   The One who designed him, wonderfully and uniquely.  His Maker did hear, did see, and does love him.

He Loves You, and sees and hears...

I prayed for Williams over the years.  The day before hearing of his death, I had a random moment in which he came to my mind and I prayed, or I think I prayed, for him.  I wish I would have prayed more.

Now I pray for his family and all of us left who feel such deep grief as I.

And I must rest the unknown in my Makers arms, and trust eternity with God who is compassionate and gracious, full of mercy and truth.  He alone is God, and there is none other than He.

"But You, O LORD, are a God full of compassion and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in mercy and truth." Psalm 86:17

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gifts of Summer

Good Morning!

It's a lovely quiet morning, and I am soaking in every little second of being home, on a Tuesday, with no real demands, agenda, project, job or responsibilities screaming down my neck.  For now, that is... and I love it.

I even slept well last night.  Which is a gift, since REST is from the Lord.  Yes, I must admit anxious nightmares have been flickering through my nights, stirring me to action, as school is about to start up again.  It's my minds way of dealing with fear of "oh no, it's just around the corner" and I will have to face the end of these lovely do-what-I-want-to-do days in a week.

What a gift this summer has been! It has been a full, very productive, eventful, surprising summer!  From summer house projects, family time, reconnecting with old friends, trips all over, meeting and making new friends, to leisure mornings like today: Thank YOU Jesus for refreshing my soul!

"Refreshing" is the word that my soul has repeated when asked how my summer has been, a refreshing gift!

My soul indeed has been replenished with each day.  I desired to spend special time with Him, and I did cut out a few days to go away, seclude myself in a private, other-than-home destination, a place called "Whispering Willows" yet the whole summer was wrapped in His love.  I just wanted to share and rejoice over His goodness to me.

One thing that has been rising like air bubbles from the depths of my soul, is a settled joy over where I am.  So much of my life I have felt as if I was on a daunting search for where I belonged.  I have lacked a true sense of belonging that I just assumed that was embedded in me, and I would not feel at home until Heaven, which is partly true.  Yet, I love that I feel like I belong here, right now.

Sure, there are a few things I would still love to come to fruition: a more formal use of my counseling degree which would utilize the gifts God has given me more fully, meeting the love of my life and marriage, to list a few.  But, God is over all that, and He is drawing me deeper into His arms of love, His sure hold on my life, and He is sovereignly working out all these things.

Funny how He gives us hope for these things, in the oddest of moments.  One morning as I was doing whatever I needed to do around the house, I was in the bathroom, picking up or cleaning or something not-to-personal and His whisper came, "In a moment I can do it."  Of course, my mind was thinking on "when will You bring him into my life..."  I can still see the towel rack, the edge of the shower curtain, the place my feet were planted, as He put this knowledge into my being, like living knowledge.  That kind of whisper that gives you a solid place to stand, and doubt just vanishes.

I love His Whispers...

How else did He refresh me?  Glad you asked! 

This would be my affectionate nephew Colby!
I love this boy!  Next time I see him he will be all grown up!
The Lord brought people my way this summer!  Family, of course, was a blessing.  I spent a week in Florida, limiting my contact with mostly family.  It was definitely a sweet treat to my heart. What a gift to have siblings who share a deep love of Jesus, live for Him and share the spiritual blessings of peace and joy.  I don't take this for granite!
Here I am in Iowa with Seth!
I have never been (except when I was in Africa) in such a rural place.
The Lord also brought some very dear, old friends around and through my summer.  I have a wide sphere of friends, and some are far away, sporadically connecting, but what joy and blessing they are to me!
 new friend, Allison and old friend, Danielle
Something new also developed this summer in the arena of friends; close neighbor friends!  I have a lovely group of friends in the area yet I have longed to have friends within walking distance.  This summer several new friends have popped up within blocks of my house!  I love that I can go for a walk and spend an hour or so with someone just over the hill, and no car is required!
Sailing with my new friend Mia!

I completed a few projects this summer as well.  I am going to create separate posts for those. This post is long enough as it is.  So, stay tuned!

So, I worked on house projects, spend time with family and friends, and loved life this summer, resting my mind from the worries of the school year behind me.

I love His Refreshing Gifts to me this summer.... Free days, Family, Friends, and fun... :-)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sifting through Normalcy

Because it's May and I have not posted one single thing in a few months, I figured it was time to blog.

School is almost over, literally five more days of frizzy with pre-adolescents.  One look into every teachers eyes and you will see that we are all staring at the finish line.  This leg has taken every ounce of energy in all of us.  The kids are so ready to be free from school, books, teacher's dirty looks and visa versa.

As this last week finally arrives, I am so thankful for the year behind, that victory and joy was experienced, and much was learned.  Honestly, I can barely wait to sift through and apply the lessons I learned from the blood, sweat and tears of the path behind me to the year in front of me.  AND I am greatly anticipating the weeks of summer in between to rest, revamp, reconnect, retreat, refresh and refill my depleted mind and soul and NOT think about school!

Something I want out of this summer is a special time with the Lord.  I have seriously been pondering  some kind of "retreat" or special refreshment with Him.  Like any love relationship, I want some special time focusing on Him by turning off all other noises, to intentionally, expectantly listen to what He has to say.

In the midst of this year-long marathon, some rubbing and sore spots have risen in some very normal areas.  I want Him to assist me as I look over these tender spots.

One place I have felt some rubbing is the area of normal life routine, in normal places of occupation.  This feels a little odd to me; I have always envisioned a supernatural life.  Sometimes I feel I am in a whole different world.  What does my faith look like in this normal arena?  How do I share my faith, when, with whom, how?  What can I do to stay sharp, focused and in love with Jesus?  Where is He in this normal life?  He has been my sustenance, and yet... this is new ground for me.  It's challenging at every turn; in a way, this is very good!

Loneliness is another normal sore spot; I have felt it before but it has come with a new side to it this past year.  This past Christmas, I felt He gave me a new perspective of my singleness: to live single instead of living as if someday I would be married.

I love what He gives: Perspective.

 Even so a deep desire for a long-term "bestie"wanes and rises as the daily tide; it's a place in my soul I have laid before the Lord many, many times.   I want someone to share my normal days with, the ups and downs, little and big joys, and most importantly, my love of Christ and living for His Kingdom.  I don't know if he will ever materialize, but I hope so.

It has been my habit to invite Him into that place of desire and yearning.  He continues to meet me, and encourage me in that very vulnerable place, which in itself is an amazing gift.

I love how He meets me again, and again.

I continually seek Him for help to be strong and grateful for what and where I am, to trust His perfect and loving knowledge of me, and His favor to bring that man who is perfect for me, to me soon!

Sometimes, in my normal tender, vulnerable places, my seeking is in tears.  He promises He holds my tears in a jar (Psalm 56:8).  They are not wasted, what a comfort!  Tears are good for keeping the heart supple and soft.

I want Him to be glorified in me, today, in this normal life, in my normal tender spots, in a Special Way because His Plans for me are GOOD and his plans include today! (Jeremiah 29:11)   I trust His purpose and will, will be done.

That is normal for His Kingdom, for He is the Living God!  

His Spirit lives in me through Christ, which is anything but normal.  He called me to be in the world but not of it... so that sets me up for a Supernatural, anything but normal life!

That is exciting!

And I love that... too.