Monday, January 30, 2017

Direction & Preparation for God's Dreams

Tomorrow I leave for a week long trip to Cuba (that means I'm writing this blog about four days early, and hope to post it once there, as normal).
I'm excited.
I love the island.

I love the people.

I love sharing Jesus.

It's been a part of God's dream for my life over the last several years...
...and I can't wait to see what unfolds over the course of this trip!
God always shows up in BIG WAYS!!
I believe He will again, because we've asked Him to do so.
That's just the kind of God He is...

It's a lot of work to prepare for a Cuba trip.
We have to start in about 8 months in advance.
Paperwork has to be filed.
Applications for visas must be turned into Havana for approval.
A team has to be hand-picked (last year's team, with our contact, Jimmy and his family).

Letters have to be written.
Information has to be gathered and passed on to those who need-to-know.
Plans have to be made.
Dates have to be picked.
Money has to be raised.
Prayers, well, they need to be raised, as well.
What I'm trying to say is there is a process to follow that ultimate gets us to Cuba...a road map (of sorts) to follow.

We don't just blink...and twitch our nose...and (voila!) we arrive.
Don't I wish!!!!!!!!

This, I know, as I look to the future (my ziqna and seba), based on past trips to Cuba (well, the analogy works with any trip): get to my destination, I must attend to important preparations...

Checking off some of the details as we plan for a trip can be fun, but most of those "to do's" are not fun at all; they are simply "work." Intentional. Purposeful. Well-planned, but monotonous and, often, frustrating work (like standing in long lines to wire money, only to find out you don't have all the information you need, and have to come back to stand in long lines again). Sometimes, it's just hard to be motivated. Plain and simple! But, if I'm going...well, I gotta get 'er done!

A favorite "Andy Stanley-ism" of mine is this:

But, the bottom line is that to accomplish a goal means I must be ready.
At all times.
And, I have to plan ahead;
Be a good Boy Scout (even though I'm a girl) and follow their motto: be prepared!

I'd prefer to do the blinking, twitching thing, but that's not how life works.............................EVER!

So, once I realized that God has a plan for me, even as the number of years I've had my being on this spinning ball increases (and, once I took note that He was still in the business of "dreaming big dreams" for me), it dawned on me, that I better be ready. When He calls, I don't want to say, "I'm sorry, I'm really too tired and worn out to do what you've asked." I want as much energy as I can muster. I'd like to be spiritually established, and, to be "ready in season and out" to share truth when He says "Go, I have a job for you to do."

That's when I started realizing, I needed an all encompassing "to do" list, just like the one I have for Cuba, but for "ziqna and seba." I needed an "old-age-to-do-list." One that will have my "spirit, soul, and body" ready (meaning my entire-self). That's when I began to pray this verse:

I want the Lord, the God of peace, to set me apart for His use. 
In order to so, I need a spirit, soul and body that's being "kept blameless." 
That means without fault. 
Can you imagine? 
A faultless body? An impeccable thought-life? A will that is without rebellion? Emotions that are processed in a healthy fashion? A spirit that is spotless? A life that's spick-and-span, free from any stain? 
To keep myself blameless, means I'm guarding my entire-self well, being a good steward of it...

Sound impossible?
Huh, it's not. Not with God.
He who calls you is faithful...He will do it!
(It doesn't even say, He will help YOU do it!)
He does the work in us...

In the meantime...Here's what I do, I create margin in my life for this:

I'm going to start the discipline and the prioritizing.
I'll let you know what that looks like (I just have to find out first, though I think I have a few clues)...and, you probably have some, as well.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Big God. Big Dream.

This showed up on my Facebook feed recently:

Even Facebook thinks it is imperative to remind me that I am getting old (and, how they knew my birthday was in June, I will never know, since I never gave Facebook my birth date).

Then, this popped up on my Pinterest feed (how did Pinterest know that my thinking has been running along these lines? - Scary!):

I'm constantly being reminded of these things: I am getting old--er; but God has a purpose...and a PROMISE ("I will carry you & sustain you")...that is still mine to claim!

The question that surfaces is concise: 

What does this practically mean for me? 

Before addressing this question, here's another promise from God's Word. One that has been my theme song from early on in my college years, as a YOUNG believer, even til now. It's been a comfort as I've journeyed down a few very foggy, uncertain, paths with signs that read: "Your Future - Destiny Undisclosed." It's a familiar passage to all of us. So familiar, in fact, that sometimes we don't really "hear" what the Lord is saying. It bears merit for us to look at anew...

Did you read the verse? Or did you just skim over it? One word is repeated three you see it? Three times means "pay attention!" That word struck a chord with me as I read Jeremiah 29:11 again this week. The word is "plans." It could also be translated "imagination," or "thoughts." The word plans is a remarkable word, in and of itself, but I just LOVE the word imagination. That verse (!), it's telling me, that while the number representing my age may be getting bigger, God is still imagining even bigger things for me. My God never quits dreaming big dreams for me! 

My Heavenly Father has a plan to put with His purpose & His promises, because His thoughts for me do not ever cease!!!!  

If this is so, then isn't it my responsibility to be ready when He reveals those thoughts, those imaginations - His dreams on my behalf? Do I not have a stewardship-purpose to be prepared for whatever He unveils?

I believe I do!

With that in mind, here's the verse I'm memorizing for 2017. It is my "goal" heart-soul-body preparation verse, which will center me on being ready for any dreams God shoots my way (more on this next week):

In the meantime, go to this link, and marinate your heart in this song by Casting Crowns - Dream for You! Just think about it - His thoughts are FOR YOU and YOUR FUTURE. As Pinterest reminded me, you wouldn't be alive if God didn't have big plans, big dreams, and a big imagination for YOU! It's guaranteed to be a grand adventure - all the way to the end!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

God Has an Important Promise in Old Age

When our son, Adam, was just a little guy and beginning to talk, he always referred to himself as an "it." I don't know what I did to dehumanize him in his mind, but I did little to correct him. "It" was just so dad-gummed cute.

These were common questions, as he grabbed my hand to lead me away:
"Feed it?"
"Play with it?"
"Come with it?"

The most frequent were these requests, as he'd stop me, put his hands up in the air and say,
"Hold it?"
"Carry it?"

Of course, I never thought that I might be enabling laziness, I just followed up on the request. Today, it's hard to wrap my mind around a picture of that little guy with the man he has become. He no longer asks for "it" to be held. (Sigh........I miss those days.) However, I couldn't if he did. He's Army-Strong!

Today, my son is in his prime.
Today, let's just say, I am not.
I'm in my "ziqna and seba" years.
(Remember: old age and gray hairs)

I think it's time for him to remember the end to the story I read my children a million, maybe a kazillion, times: I'll Love You Forever. In the end, the son climbs through a window, holds his mother, rocks her and sings:

"I'll love you forever.
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living,
My mommy you'll be."

Adam does do that for his children...and in every way that is like holding and rocking my own heart! He may be Army-Strong, but he is Heart-Soft.

I have digressed a lot. This blog is not at all supposed to be about my son, or his old-age-mother. It is about God's Promise to us in our old age and gray hair.

It is about God's faithfulness.
It is about the fact that He is always true to His Word.
It is about the answer that He gave to the Prayer of David, that we looked at last week...and the week before.
It is about his pledge to us in our "ziqna and seba."

God has given us a purpose, yes. That purpose is in relation to the generations that will follow us.
It's a great honor to be made stewards of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

AH! But, outstanding news - there is a promise to come along with the purpose.
It's a promise of His Presence.
But, it's more than an off-in-the-distance watching us kind of presence.
God's promise is to "hold it" "carry it"...all the way from here to our heavenly home.
He declares that He will bear us up, and sustain us, that we may do all He has planned for us until that day.

How do I know? Here's the Word on that:

Here's the actual passage from the ESV:

Listen to me...All who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb, I am He; even to your old age and gray hairs I will carry you; I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and I will save.

There are days, hours, moments when I know I need to take care of myself.
Those are the days when I've been on the road for days, or busy until late at night with preparations for things to come. This is not about that...

However, when God's call comes to be purposeful-for-His-glory, and in the moment I wonder about the energy, His vow to me is sure.

When I start to wonder (Ok, let's be honest, that word "wonder" should be worry or fear) about what it will like when I am much older, and have lost memory, lost strength, lost energy, lost agility, lost ability...or just feel downright lost...I can still KNOW, He is carrying me. He is sustaining me. He still has a plan for me, even in that day. There is still a reason to keep on keeping on...

"He who calls is faithful; He will surely do it!"
1 Thessalonians 5:24

So remember this quote?

NEWS FLASH, Stephen Colbert (Peg Forrest), there is no need to FEAR. 

The I AM 
He will "carry it."

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Thought or Two on Aging

The women on my dad's side of the family have left me quite a legacy of long-life. My dear grandma-Floy passed away at the young age of 103. My Aunt Frannie is currently 102, and only in about the past six months has she taken a decline in health. Until then, she was still active at church (walked to church EVERY SUNDAY, in spite of the fact that her eyesight was failing), "reading" books on a computer where she could enlarge her print, and busied herself in her outside garden. I think she determined early-on not to get out-lived by her mother.

I've got good genes. Not saying I will even make it to 100, but what if? That's the question that I've been pondering. If so...what kind of woman do I want to be in my old age (ziqna) and gray hairs (seba)?  By the way, I have plenty of "seba" and I pay dearly to keep the surface looking a little fresher. Thanks to my sweet Kenzie for helping me do that...believe me my hair dresser knows the truth!

When we're young, we don't have time to think about what old age looks like. It's out there, as in a galaxy far, far away. This minute is all we have time to see, and that minute is so jam-packed with caring for others, and keeping our heads above water financially, and trying to create a life "out-there," that it's easy to put-off tomorrow.

I thought about tomorrow in those days....
I surely did.
Then, like a lot of futuristic ideas, I would simply shrug my shoulders and think to myself, "Tomorrow is another day!" Of course, I'd say it with all the dramatic flair of Scarlett O'Hara after Rhett Butler walked out and slammed the door.

Well, tomorrow is here. Now is the time. Although, a few yesterday's ago would probably have been better. However, when I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, didn't quite feel the energy-level-I'd-come-to-expect, I, then, wondered, "What is wrong with me?" That's when the light bulb came on...I'm getting old. Ziqna. That was Christmas Day.

Then, I found King David's prayer that I ended with last week. It spoke my heart-language. God do not leave me in my old age. You've been with me since I was young. You've taught me so much. I continue to teach others those things you taught me. And, I speak of how you've acted on my behalf time and time again. But God....there is another generation that needs to hear words of your might, the truth of your power. I want to get to be the one to proclaim it!! Even to my old age and gray hair. AMEN!! So be it.

Here's what I'm reminded of, and, I believe that King David knew this same truth as he prayed those words.

God has a purpose for each of us. It's why we're here on earth.

That purpose is intended to be a reflection of His glory.

Even to our ziqna and seba, He's wanting to use us.

Just because the energy level doesn't meet expectations...

Just because there are aches and pains...

He's not looking for us to give up, stop, sit in a chair and wait for death to claim us.

His hope is for whole-hearted living...not half-hearted effort.

David knew it. Even to his old age and gray hairs, he wanted to be about the Father's business.

It's why God applauded David's whole-heartedness.

It's why the Lord gloried in David being a man after HIS HEART.

Here's what the WORD says about David. May this be on my tombstone some day (just please change the name first)...

"For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers..."
Acts 13:36.

So, that's the kind of woman I want to be in my ziqna and seba...

giving myself
in my generation
for the next to come.

It helps to know we still have purpose, a reason to get up and keep moving. A reason to stay healthy. A reason to be steadfast...immovable...unshaken.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

My One Word New Year's FOCUS

Welcome 2017!
This is the first year in a long time, we actually watched you enter, and saw your counterpart walk out the door.
There was no big celebration.
No fireworks.
No confetti.
No ball dropping.
No balloons. 
It was a quiet and reverential moment. 
Sacred, in fact.
Then I went to sleep.

I make no resolutions.
I do, however, establish a focus for the new year.
It tends to be in the form of one-word goals.
That seems easier to manage.
One year it was the word "in"...which really turned into "identity"...
Another year it was "joy."
Last year it was "church."
This year I've picked a rather odd concept: "aging."

It hit me on December 25th, my half-birthday.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I went from 30 years of age to 63.5.
I had a hard time wrapping my mind around it.
And, somehow, my mind refused to accept it.
Age had snuck up on me and I seemed oblivious to it.

What dawned on me is that I'm really in the Third Act of this story of mine called LIFE!
How I deduced that doesn't matter.
What does matter is that I want to do this thing called "aging" well.
There's no dress rehearsal for it.
Because it's a once-and-for-all-go-at-it, I want to do it right.
With grace.
With hope.
Without that ugly thing called FEAR.
There's truth to this....

There's not much on the market that gives Christian-followers-of-Jesus good information.
I've seen a few more secular materials, but not a ton.
So...this is my new year FOCUS.
In a way, I want to blaze a trail for those who will follow. 
(That may just only be my children, but, hey...that's OK!)
So, this year my word is "Ziqna" - it just sounds better in the Hebrew transliteration.

If you want to join me on this year's journey - you are welcome!
I'd love to learn from you, too, no matter how old you are.
We are all aging.
It's a natural part of life.
How we age matter what the number is.'s our starting point. 
It's a prayer from King David.
I'm making it mine this year.

"O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age (Ziqna) and gray hairs (Seba), O God, do not forsake me; until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come..."
Psalm 71:17-18