Monday, July 29, 2013

"Pedicured" to have Hind's Feet

As I went for my typical early morning run/walk, several doe and about four buck graced my view for quite a spell.  Grazing quietly by the side of the dirt road I trod, they looked up at me and stared, as If I were a parade going past – a Peg-parade.  They didn’t bother to run off (either I’m not very threatening, or they have learned to spot a hunter with bow & arrow or gun – I imagine it’s the latter).  Their ears twitched; they looked back at one another; and they went back to grazing.  A little distance later, I turned and caught them bounding off, hopping a barbed wire fence with effortless grace.  That’s when the thought crossed my mind:  I don’t just want beautiful feet, I want deer’s feet.  Don’t’ get me wrong.  I still want to be me.  I just want to be me with deer’s feet. 

Let me explain.  I tend to be a bit unsteady on my feet.  Those who traveled with us to Cuba in 2010 can attest to this when I completely missed a step-down and bounced my head twice off a marble floor.  Before that (on another walk), I missed a step-up and broke my navicular scaphoid (yes, if I’d been a horse, I’d have been shot-on-the-spot).  Before that, I was jumping with a weighted rope, missed, and broke my ankle.  Before that…well, you get the idea and don’t need a running list of my many mishaps.  The point is that deer have sure feet.  Steady feet.  They not only hop over barriers as if they were little stones in a creek bed, but they climb difficult places with great ease.  They go places where I would dare not even try, but would love to go (there are exhilarating views in those places).  I want sure feet. 

After one of those mishaps where I broke something or other (it may have been my head), one of my girls laughingly quoted me a Scripture reference.  It’s found in Psalm 18.  Here’s what David said, He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places…  Thou dost enlarge my steps under me, and my feet have not slipped (33, 36).”  To this my funny girl-child said, “You must be doing something wrong.”  Not fair! 

However, in every criticism there could be an element of truth.  Here it is, spiritually speaking (this doesn’t help my physical stumbling).   Here’s what David says in commentary to his feet not slipping in the previous Psalm (17:5):  My steps have held fast to Thy paths.  My feet have not slipped.”  Another psalmist used the same terminology (Asaph in Psalm 73:2-3), “But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; my steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant, as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”  Both David and Asaph use the phrase in connection with following after the Lord’s “way”…his path…an expression of having sought God’s perspective to life issues and walking in obedience.  The result for them was an enlarged path and feet that did not stumble (as in “sin”).  Sure footedness, hind’s feet, are assured as I keep walking with Jesus, and following Him in quick obedience. 

This doesn’t help my clumsiness; hence the reason for working on balance with some yoga instruction; but it might help my spiritual clumsiness. 

So, I’ll now add to my spiritual pedicure, not just a readiness to go, but obedience in the going.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

These Are the Feet...

If you didn't read last week's post, this one might not make too much sense; so, I invite you to go back and breeze through it.  We highlighted two verses, but I'll only repeat one:

“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of her who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’”  
Isaiah 52:7

Following the Thrive women's retreat a couple weeks ago, each volunteer was asked to do a project that symbolized the week for us.  Even then, I couldn't get the "feet" of the women whose toes I painted out of my mind.  They had been in some difficult places, and I was privileged to listen as they shared so many of their heartaches in a safe place.  This was my project - a collage of pictures and a little journaling.  Permit me to share pieces of the journey of some of these women with you.

These are the feet that journeyed far from family and friends to share the age-old story of Jesus and His love.

These are the feet that stand in uncomfortable places, and step out of their comfort zone into sometimes dangerous worlds, in order to learn the stories of new cultures and find a niche to now call home.

These are the feet that skipped rope with children, played Duck-Duck-Goose hundreds of times, and carried covered dishes to new mothers just to earn the right of relationship.

These are the feet that have danced in rejoicing when new souls entered the Kingdom, because they dared to cross paths with and make new friends.

These are the feet that sorrowfully stood over graves and buried their babies, husbands, moms and dads.

These are the feet that stumbled and tripped but kept pressing on...

These are the feet that were uprooted and struggled to leave under one more evacuation (even as many as 11!), because to go meant leaving a piece of heart and soul behind.

These are the feet that climbed hills, forged new trails, became blistered and bruised, but never stopped, not for a second, because the fields were ripe with harvest.

These are the feet that got tired and sore and wondered if they could take One.More.Step.

These are the feet that ran through valleys and fields of wild flowers and leapt over the joy of serving Jesus.

These are the feet that returned hesitantly to American soil (yes, almost fearfully), because they weren't sure if they could fit in a U.S.-sized-shoe anymore...or, even if they wanted to...

These are the feet that walked through the doors of our week's retreat hoping for an easier re-entry, some rest, and renewal...

These are the feet I was privileged to massage while being honored with stories that will stay in my heart forever.

These are the feet whose toenails I painted, that slipped into new sandals and marched out the door into a parade with a spring in their step, a refreshed perspective, and a renewed hope to keep walking with Jesus...

These are beautiful feet.


I've been challenged and inspired by these feet.  Inspired to keep walking, leaping, running, climbing, marching, standing, going, serving, journeying, tripping, persevering, and following Jesus.  Challenged to let God move me, as He so gently does, out of comfortable places into new venues where the victory found in Jesus, and the good news of salvation, needs to be heard.  

Look at those feet again...what do they stir in your soul?

Sunday, July 14, 2013


FEET.  This has been the topic on my mind for sometime now – ever since the last women’s retreat at which I spoke up in Denver.  While it is such an honor to be asked to talk about what I’m learning, personally, during my day-in-day-out walk with Jesus, I was given an additional privilege.  I got to assist with pedicures following lunch right up to dinner.  Pedicures are divided into two parts: 1) Washing, exfoliating, caring for cuticles, and filing toenails; and, 2) Massaging, cleaning toenails, and painting.  I got to do Part 2.

The pedicure room is robust with conversation.  Just by virtue of the theme topic over the course of the week (story-telling), the ladies came ready to share their stories.  Nothing seems more vulnerable to me than sticking my foot out for someone to massage.  I’m not exactly sure why.  Maybe because feet get so dirty?  Or maybe, because they take the brunt of wear and tear, and come dry and cracked?  Or, could it be because (let’s face it) feet are just so ugly?  And, don’t forget the fact that, often, when we slip our feet out of our shoes, they stink! Maybe, it’s all of the above.  So, it just seems that if you’re risking sticking your foot out to place on someone’s lap, the walls are already broken down.  Seldom did we engage in small talk.  Nope.  Those ladies just jumped right in and shared their stories.  The good, the bad, the sweet, the sorrowful.  I LOVED IT!  What a gift!  They entrusted ME to hold the tales of their lives, and they will never leave my heart.  There, they will be locked for eternity, along with their faces (long after their names have left my already quick-to-forget-memory).

Of course, the passage that kept creeping up as I attempted to tenderly massage lotion into those feet and legs was a well-known passage from Isaiah 52:7, “How lovely on the mountains are the feet of her who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’”  What a descriptive passage for these women - women who live and work in tough places.  At that conference 36 countries and 39 mission organizations were represented.  A large percentage of these women work in countries where missionaries are prohibited, so they come in under work visas, hoping to bring the good news of happiness, share the gospel of peace, and announce salvation.  These are difficult places to serve.  They are places where the enemy of darkness reigns and fights hard against them.  You can only imagine how tired they are when they come home after living under this cloud of heaviness, and the threat of being caught for who they really are.  What a blessing to hug their feet, and provide a physical means of relaxation, if only for a few minutes!  It was humbling and inspirational.  I was moved unlike I’ve ever been before.  I can almost understand why Mary wept at Jesus feet and dried his feet with her hair.  If I could have I would have!

During our “debrief” at the end of the week, we were asked to create a project that would represent that opportunity of service for us.  I’m not crafty.  Not without some idea or picture to follow.  However, I had taken a lot of pictures of “feet.”  I couldn’t take pictures of the faces of these ladies, lest they be seen somewhere in connection with a missions organization, but I could their feet. My project was a collage of a few of these pictures.  Then I tried to summarize some of their stories.  Next week, I’ll share my project.  For this week, ponder with me the verse in Isaiah about feet.  Then remember this verse in Ephesians 6:15, “…and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace…”  Part of the armor of every Christian is to first receive a spiritual pedicure.  Before we slide our feet into our sandals, we must prepare our hearts to share the gospel.  Are you ready to take the gospel next door, to the mall, or, maybe, somewhere to the ends of the earth?  Are you prepared with beautiful feet?  Or, does the going tire your feet before they ever leave home?  Are they a bit frightened to move and ground to the floor?  Let’s find a place for a pedicure today… Even our feet can be beautiful feet!

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Salty Light

As I type this morning’s blog, I am fresh off a women’s retreat for an organization called Thrive (formerly, Women of the Harvest).  Thrive exists to encourage "global" women (have to be careful not to use the "m" word) from all over the world.  Many of these women come exhausted, hurt, broken, and depleted.  These are true servants.  They are passionate about the people to whom they have been entrusted to take the word.  They work hard, fight unseen battles, corrupt cultures, and personal issues.  The few days they spend in retreat are purposely crafted to carve out time for them to process, to tell their stories, and to renew, basking in the love and encouragement of volunteers who come to simply serve them in return.  It’s glorious to see our Father do his work of healing, mending, and restoring.  Thrive provides a safe place for us all to be authentic and meet the Living One in the midst.

As I open the Word this morning, my eyes fall on Matthew, chapter 5.  I am hit with the passage we call The Beatitudes. I encourage you to take a look at them just to jog your memory.  This is the “Blessed-Are” portion of Scripture.  “Blessed.”  From the Greek word, transliterated, “makarios.”  It could be translated happy.  That seems a poor translation when you look at some of the things that follow:  If you are impoverished in spirit, well, find happiness!  If you are in the midst of mourning, find happiness!  If there’s conflict in your world, and you are in the midst of it as a peacemaker – be happy!  If you’re being persecuted – be happy! 

For years, my life has been about stories.  I’ve been privileged to sit across from many a woman who has entrusted me with her story. I’ve heard stories of women whose lives reflect these conditions, and believe me they are not happy!  Not as the world defines the word.  Over the course of last week, I have discovered something that changes the way I look at Matthew, Chapter 5.  I went back to my Greek dictionary, revisited the way this word can be defined, and mined the truth a little deeper.  There is a distinct Presence found in this word, it is the Presence of God in the midst of our life happenings.  Makarios also means, “blessed one,” “one who has found God’s favor in spite of what our circumstances may be.”  The Lord, the Blessed One, is the Presence to be found in the middle of our stories. 

Life events don’t always make for happiness.  “BUT GOD” in the center of our life events does account for blessing.  Here’s what I think I need to take away from The Beatitudes as a general rule of thumb.  Discover the ALMIGHTY in every circumstance of every story (even if I'm still in the midst of one).  When I see the Blessed One in the midst, I can’t help but unwrap a myriad of gifts that will overwhelm the difficulty of my current situation.  When I see the gifts, I will find a smile that spreads from the inside out and find peace in the pain. 

Guess what follows next?  You are the salt of the earth (5:13)… You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden (5;14)…  Wanna be salt?  Wanna be light?  Wanna be a renewed servant of the Most High?  Look for the Blessed One in the middle of your story!  Yep, I want to be a salty light!  Now that's attractive...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Decision Making: On Fact or Feeling?

It is written.  It is written.  It is written.
(Matthew 4:4,7,10)

Three words - Jesus’ answer to every temptation.  Undoubtedly, his response to every crucial decision (maybe even the small ones).  I’ve always been taught, that when we see something repeated in the Bible, it’s important to take heed.  It’s a pretty critical teaching.  When it’s repeated more than once, we REALLY need to listen.  It’s more than critical; it’s VITAL.

Life is filled with temptations.  Life is filled with decision-making moments.  How do we know what is the right way to go?  Every temptation, every decision is a crossroads of sorts.  Very few are neutral.  Almost every one has some kind of consequence.  I want the response that leads down the most God-glorifying path.  I really do.  I’ve learned it’s not always the enjoyable path; nor is it the easiest path.  In fact, it can be hard…and it doesn’t always “feel” good.

One of the most recent “big” decisions for us came as we closed out our time of service at Arizona Christian University.  While I knew the Lord had made it clear that the timing to retire from higher education was right, I loved living in Phoenix.  I am a warm weather girl.  I like the city.  It’s not so much for the shopping (I’m definitely not a shopper), as much as I like the conveniences.  Bay and I began talking early last fall about the possibility of purchasing a small condo/townhouse in the area, perhaps a bit closer to where our youngest daughter lives in Casa Grande.  Prices were good, and it seemed feasible, IF I would take out all my retirement money.  If that were the case, we could probably make it work.  That seemed like a great idea to me.  It “felt” like a great idea.  It helped appease some of the sad-feelings about leaving ACU and the Phoenix area.

We weren’t taking this decision lightly.  We prayed A LOT.  We looked A LOT at places (both through the Internet and driving around).  Yet neither of us felt a peace.  When all was said and done, it came down to the words, “It is written.”  The questions we asked ourselves had a lot to do with what the Scriptures say about smart spending, wise stewardship, and the unknown future.  We have learned through experience that when we make a decision based on how we “feel,” it usually doesn’t serve us well in the end.  It’s better to make decisions based on gathered knowledge and wisdom, combined with God’s truth.  So, we said “no” to the dream…

I’ll be honestly authentic here.  I didn’t like the decision.  I knew it was right, but I wrestled with it for several months.  I believe God knows my heart…in the end, I wanted what he wants; REALLY, I do.  He let me wrestle.  He did not condemn.  Yet, in the end, I always seem to come around, and with the stepping into obedience, the feelings start to match the response.  Based on our history (God’s & mine), while obedience is often difficult at first, every opportunity to follow becomes easier to make, and to turn over my will (my "want to").  However, when I go with the emotional decision, the end is generally just the opposite: easy at first, difficult later.  I’ve experienced both.

How do you make your decisions? On truth or emotion? Facts or Feelings?  May we always seek the “it is written” as much as possible.