Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Stilled Soul

Psalm 131 is my favorite chapter in the Bible. It's a short one but it packs a punch. A few years ago God knocked me to my knees in tears as I read this and realized that God had indeed stilled and quieted my soul-finally. "My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, both now and forevermore", Psalm 131, NIV. What these words say to me is that I no longer need great things in my life nor do I need God to give me anything. I am content to just rest in His presence.

That little child inside of me

Had always felt alone,

Forced by life to carry a weight

Too burdensome for a tot.

Never allowed the carefree play

That youngsters ought to have,

The secret I resolved to keep

Hung heavy in my center.

Until the day that Jesus' strength

Came down and hugged me tight.

He rocked me back and forth that day

And loved my tears away.

He stilled and quieted my soul within

As I gazed upon His face.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Feeling Droopy

After the hot endless summer we've had I long for cooler weather but it's slow in coming. I feel like the flowers in my garden that are drying, parched, and spindly, ready for a change. Having weathered a difficult time, they are looking with longing to a new phase of rest and renewal. I can relate to these words of Charles Spurgeon:

"Though we have brought forth some fruit unto Christ, and have a joyful hope that we are "plants of His own right hand planting", yet there are times when we feel very barren. Prayer is lifeless, love is cold, faith is weak, each grace in the garden of our heart languishes and droops. We are like flowers in the hot sun, requiring the refreshing shower."

What does Spurgeon say is the remedy for feeling like this? "Sing, believer, for it will cheer thine own heart, and the hearts of other desolate ones. Sing on, for now that thou art really ashamed of being barren, thou will be fruitful soon; now that God makes thee loath to be without fruit He will soon cover thee with clusters. The experience of barrenness is painful, but the Lord's visitations are delightful. A sense of our own poverty drives us to Christ, and that is where we need to be, for in Him is our fruit found."

That's what I need to remember. In Jesus is my fruit found. My times of abundance, my times of blessing, my times of refreshment, my times of harvest are found in Him. Just as surely as the appointed time for autumn comes faithfully each year, so my times of renewal follow my times of barrenness. I just need to look to Him with hope and expectation and He will never disappoint.

"Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you", Isaiah 12:1-6. NIV

Friday, August 26, 2011

Butterfly Dance

I painted this when God took me through the healing process to overcome the childhood sexual abuse. He showed me that I had given up over the years all the things I had loved to do-paint, write poetry, dance, etc. I had spent all my time and energy taking care of the people in my life until there was nothing left of me. I think it is so important, essential even, to take care of yourself and continue to do the things that make you smile inside. Letting God's creativity flow through you is immensely healing. It helped me when I began taking a dance class, painting, and writing again. Sometimes the women looked like butterflies when they flapped their arms as they danced.

Lovely butterflies dance
Pretty butterflies prance
When they all get together
For the Butterfly Dance.

Heavy loads thrown away
Sad tears run down
Only lightness left
All else dropped to the ground.

Their spirits soar
Like the birds up above
Colored wings flapping brightly
Painted by God's love.

They've spent much time
In their gloomy cocoon
Preparing themselves to shine
In darkness like the moon.

They worked very hard
Determined to break out
It is their destiny
None of them doubt.

Free now, they get together
To rejoice and to play
In praise of The One
Who made them this way.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spreading Her Wings

She was so young and trusting
that year the boys
led her to the attic room
and took her innocence.
After that her heart
ceased to live
and a thick hard shell
covered up her secret.

For a lifetime she labored,
spinning herself quietly
into a tight cocoon,
fearful of the light.
Until Truth beckoned so brightly
He couldn't be ignored,
cracking the darkness,
uncovering her shame.

It wasn't her fault. This
settled her soul
and she began to believe
and determined to fly.
As Jesus unraveled the layers,
she stepped hesitantly out
before spreading her wings,
soaring toward the sun.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Born to Fly

The area where I live has gone through a summer of historical heat and drought. Everything in my yard has died except for my zinnias. They seem to love this heat. And they are attracting some of the biggest, most beautiful butterflies.

I have a fascination with butterflies. In my opinion, they stand out as the most amazing of all the amazing creatures that God has displayed in His wondrous natural world. All of my paintings have a butterfly in them somewhere and I have a small butterfly tattoo on my right ankle. That's how much I love them!

It makes me happy to see them on my zinnias, basking in the sun. Their coloring and design are awesome, intricate, and indescribable; every one is a masterpiece. Their story is equally amazing. You know it. They start out as lowly caterpillars, then tunnel into dark cocoons, breaking out as gorgeous butterflies, soaring through the breezes, born to fly.

I relate to them so strongly because they remind me of my life story. I lived much of my life in a cocoon of my own making, convinced the abuse was my fault and I was unworthy of forgiveness. I settled into the darkness the same way I settled into a life not really lived. After awhile the darkness was so comfortable that I didn't have the motivation, or nerve, to break out.

Until I had an encounter with the One who created us all. He was not willing to let me stay hidden in that dark cocoon. He wanted more out of life for me. Over the years as he has transformed my heart, He has indeed made me into a new creation, one that is born to fly. Praise God!

"Praise the Lord, my soul, all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits-who forgives all your sins, and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's, Psalm 103:1-5. NIV

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Remembering My Mother

This is in memory of my mother, Rosemary Irene Smith, who passed away a year ago today after a massive stroke. After the initial stroke she slipped into a coma for five days before passing away. She was a beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend. Not a day goes by that I don't miss her terribly. I loved her so much. Everyone who knew her loved her. She liked to write poetry and here is a poem she wrote in November, 1990.

Four Seasons

Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall
God gave these seasons to us all
To enjoy the beauty that you can see
Just get out and go---it is all free.

Spring when everything turns shades of green
Flowers' bright blooms can be seen
Birds, squirrels and blue, blue sky
Dogs and lots of people walking by.

Summer vacations-places to go
Mountains, lakes and boats to row
Big cities or lazy countrysides
Hot sun, drying grasses and ocean tides.

Fall is a gorgeous sight to behold
Orange, yellow, red and gold
Trees turning and leaves falling to the ground
Warm days to get out and walk around.

Winter with yards and trees so bare
A blanket of snow covers them with care
Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter-4 seasons
All so beautiful for different reasons.

Thank you God for all of this
There is none I would like to miss
Each season is lovely in its' own way
I look forward to each and every day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

You Are Important

I'm going to write about something else that was in "The Help". That's the movie I saw last weekend about colored housemaids and the white women they worked for in Mississippi back in the 1960s. There are so many good lessons in that movie about love and the messages are still going around in my mind.

The colored maids raised the little white children because their mothers couldn't be bothered. They were the only real mothers the kids had known, and they loved them and raised them as if they were their own.There was one little white girl about 2 or 3 that was a bit pudgy but precious. Her mother had nothing to do with her and the maid was afraid she never would because "she aint gonna win no beauty pageants".

Every day the maid would tell the little girl "You is kind. You is smart. You is important". Every day. At the end of the movie when the maid was fired she asked the little girl if she remembered what she had told her and the little girl said "You is kind. You is 'mart. You is 'portant".

Anyway, my point is, don't we all need to hear those words every day? Sometimes every second of every day. I wish I'd said that every day to my daughters when they were growing up. I wish my mother had said that to me every day. I tell my granddaughters how lovely and loved they are every chance I get.

We are all special and unique because God made us that way. He fashioned us out of love and wove us into His own image. But our culture begs to differ and convinces us we are not enough or we are too much or we are insignificant (Satan does this also). We rarely feel good about ourselves. We see ourselves as we think the world sees us and not how God sees us.

God sees us as His beloved children and important enough to give His own son to die on the cross for us. Let's start seeing ourselves through God's eyes and let's tell the people we love every day how important they are.

"You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body, and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of the sand! And when I wake up, You are still with me!", Psalms 139:13-18. NLT 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Love Like Jesus

God has been impressing on me the need to love other people more. I want to do that but it's always been hard for me. After the trauma of childhood sexual abuse, I grew up self-absorbed. I constantly focused on myself, trying to figure out what I could do to feel better, what I could do to get rid of the pain; always battling the negative voices and thoughts that took up residence in my head.

And I still struggle with self-absorption. Self is a hard thing to get rid of because it's always with you. But so is Jesus. Jesus is always with me. I'm determined, with God's help, to become Jesus-focused and not self-focused, Jesus-conscious and not self-conscious. Several things this weekend reminded and challenged me anew to ask God for more love for others.

First was the movie "The Help". It tells the story of colored women who served as housemaids for socialite white women in the 60s in Mississippi. The white women looked down on the colored women as being less than them, heck, as being less than human; not letting them share their toilets, their silverware, or the food they had so generously prepared.

But, and this is the real kicker, they turned the total care of their babies over to these colored maids, because the white women were too busy with themselves to even acknowledge their little children existed. And the colored women loved these little ones as if they were their own; causing one tiny girl to hug her housemaid and exclaim "You are my real mommy".

Second was my pastor's sermon yesterday. He had just returned from a mission trip to Indonesia and was telling us about the miraculous things going on in that part of the world to bring people to Christ. He said God had brought three things to his mind on the trip home, "Love them, Serve them, Lead them". He said he loved Muslims, he loved Hindus, he loved Buddhists, he even loved Baptists:). He said if we want to halt the spread of the Muslim religion in our country then the best thing to do is make a friend of a Muslim and love them to Jesus.

Isn't that really what Christianity is all about? Loving people to Jesus, no matter what their skin color, nationality, religion or bank account is.

"Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself".

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Effortless Weeding

Where I live, we finally broke our three month drought and record setting heat wave. This week, we've had three days of rain and cooler temperatures. Praise the Lord! I've never been so glad to see that refreshing liquid falling from the sky.

The only downside is that I can no longer use the excuse "It's too hot" to get out of weeding my little flower garden in back of my house. Even with the mulch I put down and the months of no rain, those pesky weeds are trying to take over.

Much like in my life. Even with the new picture of grace God has given me this year, those persistent old sins and strongholds are trying to take over the good things that God is doing for me. Really, it's a never-ending battle. Satan keeps rearing his ugly head, especially when I'm growing in my Christian walk.

But God has promised "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness", II Corinthians 12:9, and that "the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world", I John 4:4. Because of Jesus' shed blood on the cross, I have already won the battle. "It is finished", John 19:30. All I have to do is rest in His grace. I wish getting rid of those weeds was as effortless.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not of works, so that no one can boast", Ephesians 2:8-9. NIV

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Part of Me

Seeing my children
Grow up and leave home
Is like
Watching my heart walk out the door
Living lives I'm not a part of
Raising children of their own.

Living with my husband
For forty years
Is like
Watching my identity dressed in men's clothes
Relaxed in sweats
Stiffened in starched shirts.

My grandchildren
Crawling into my affections
Is like
Watching my joy wrapped in softness
Cuddling sunshine
Hugging innocence.

When my parents passed away
I realized my own days are numbered.
Our times together much too short,
These people, my family, have carved a place
Way deep inside
And become a part of me.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

I went to Little Rock this weekend to celebrate my and my two daughter's birthdays, which are all in August; and to spend time with three of my beautiful grandaughters. The 15 year old was in a performance at the Rep Theatre called "The 80s Show". She's into dancing and drama and is quite good at it. The six year old adores her and wants to be just like her and in fact they are a lot alike, all girlie, girlie, and they both love to dance and perform.The seven month old is just starting to crawl and boy, is she fast. It didn't take her long to be into the other girls' stuff. We had a lot of fun. There's nothing I'd rather do than spend time with my grandaughters. That's all I have to say today, nothing profound or enlightening. Just "Thank heaven for little girls" and Praise the Lord for grandaughters!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The River-Maker

It is so hot in Arkansas this summer! We are undergoing a heat wave of historical proportions. In Fayetteville, where I live, we tied an all-time record of 110 yesterday that had previously been set in 1954. And this is in the northwest corner of Arkansas, in the Ozark Mountains, where it is usually cooler. Ft. Smith, an hour away, recorded a temperature of 115, their hottest since 1882.

65%  of the state is under drought conditions. The last time we had rain where I live was late May. Everything is drying up and all the beautiful summer flowers are dying. I normally love summertime and sunny days, but this is too extreme. All of the parched ground is desperately longing for a good, stisfying soaking of rain.

My soul is also thirsting for a good, satisfying drink-of Jesus' living water. I have been feeling a little parched and dry myself. In my class at church last night, the teacher Gary McLaughlin, paraphrased John Piper's 2/19/11 sermon "Out of your hearts willl flow living waters" and gave us these points"

*Jesus' gift of living water is free. All we need is to be thirsty and drink of it.

*The human soul has thirst. While our bodies are made to live on water, our soul is made to live on God.

*If our soul does not drink from the greatness and wisdom and power and goodness of God, it will wither of thirst.

*Jesus is what we drink. Jesus doen't just have what our soul needs, Jesus is what our soul needs.
*We were made for this-to come to Jesus and drink of His living water. Only His living water will satisfy all our needs and longings.

*When we come to Jesus to drink, we get more than a drink. We get a never-ending spring, a fountain, a well, we get Jesus. Rivers of water will flow because the River-Maker is in us.

I'm praying and hoping that refreshing waters will come soon upon our land and in our souls. "If anyone
thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, "Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water", John 7:37-38. ESV

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Solid Rock

"Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that rock, it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock", Matthew 7:24-25. NLT

A song I learned when I was a little girl keeps going around in my head: "A wise man built his house upon a rock, house upon a rock, house upon a rock. A wise man built his house upon a rock and the rains came tumbling down. The rains came down and the floods came up, the rains came down and the floods came up, the rains came down and the floods came up, but the house on the rock stood firm".

I guess because my pastor preached Sunday on how we need to have a firm foundation to stand on in these turbelent times. Now that I have an ipad and iphone, devices that give me instant access to news that's going on around the world, none of this news is good and I'm sorry I get it so quickly. If I let myself dwell on all the frightening things going on then I just want to crawl under my covers and stay there.

But I have hope. I have a solid foundation to stand on and that foundation is Jesus Christ. He is my security, my Savior, my steadfast hope in the storms of life. "And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed", Titus 2:12-13. NLT

Edward Mote said it well in the hymn he wrote back in 1834:

1.My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

2. When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

3. His oath, His covenant, and blood, support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

4. When He shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.

Monday, August 1, 2011


"MUCH MORE then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him", Romans 5:9. KJV

"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, MUCH MORE, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life", Romans 5:10. KJV

"For if through the offense of one many are dead, MUCH MORE the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many", Romans 5:15. KJV

"For if by one man's offense death reigned by one, MUCH MORE they who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ", Romans 5:17. KJV

God has been impressing these verses in Romans on my heart lately, especially the MUCH MORE phrases. I think God wants me to live with MUCH MORE than I have been living with. But MUCH MORE what?

MUCH MORE grace, MUCH MORE of God's love, MUCH MORE peace of mind, MUCH MORE self acceptance, MUCH MORE love for others, MUCH MORE freedom from depression, MUCH MORE energy for life, MUCH MORE of an intinate relationship with Him, MUCH MORE of the Holy Spirit's power.

I want all this abundance in my life. I'm tired of living from lack. But how do I get MUCH MORE? I think the only way is by spending MUCH MORE time getting to know Jesus Christ and by loving Him MUCH MORE. And by accepting these free gifts He has already given me.