Me and the Sparrows

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6: 26-27

There’s been a lot going on at our house lately. A cancer diagnosis for me and, for both my husband and I, the inner turmoil and emotional strain that comes with it.

So, we find ourselves out on our back porch most evenings. Sometimes we talk. Sometimes we say nothing and just watch the birds and the bunnies that seem to enjoy hanging out in our yard lately.

It’s a bit of peace in the midst of our storm to watch these carefree little creatures at play.

I want to be like that. I pray for that.

“God, let fear fall away from me like rain off the feathers of a sparrow. Help me not to worry about the future. Help me to trust that, no matter what tomorrow holds, You will take care of me.”

Below is a song my sister-in-law introduced me to recently. It reminded me that I am secure in God’s loving hands. Part of the lyric says, “If He can hold the world, He can hold this moment.”

Maybe you’re going through a trial of your own. If so, this is song is for you too.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

Losing Control and Finding Grace

So I’m sitting in the dentist’s chair, nervously chattering with his assistant as she preps me for impending doom the crown that will soon adorn my cracked tooth.

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She had apologized for calling me by the wrong name and I told her that was okay. I quickly brushed off the minor infraction without a second thought unaware that it might be a foreshadowing of things to come.

Her: “Your heart rate is 103!” 

Me: “I’m not surprised. I can’t believe how nervous I am.”

I then proceeded to remind her that I had requested the gas. You know. It’s the gas formally known as nitrous oxide and informally known as laughing gas.

I’m not sure why it got that funny little name because, while I have experienced it’s soothing effects, it has never caused me to get a case of the giggles.

Especially today.

Her: “Oh, yes.” Her reply is a bit hesitant as she studies the computer to confirm.

Me: Heavy silence.

I quietly reflect on the situation. My mind starts racing as fast as my heart. 

She didn’t know about the gas. What else doesn’t she know? They seem really busy today. Maybe she is distracted. What if something bad happens to me because she’s not paying attention?

I considered running, but it was too late. She had turned on the gas and the dentist had now made his entrance.

Him: “How are you today?”

Me: “I’d be better if I didn’t have to be here.”

Him: “Me too,” he says with a slight laugh.  

Maybe he’d hit the gas earlier, I thought.

For a person with trust issues, I did NOT need to hear that the man who held the fate of my tooth in his hands might be playing a round of golf in his head. I could only hope that his brain was present and focused – not sitting on a white, sandy beach somewhere soaking up rays.

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Now, for those of you who’ve never had the pleasure of having a crown put on, I can tell you that the procedure involves several steps. And in between each step, the dental professionals leave the room and give you a few minutes to panic “relax”.

For some reason, instead of relaxing, I found myself with a heightened awareness of my vulnerability. I kept thinking of all the things that could happen that I had absolutely no control over.

At one point, I remember praying out loud. “Help me, God!”

Here’s where it gets a little pitiful.

By the time the dentist and his assistant came back in the room I was muttering through numbed lips “I can’t calm down!”

Mercifully, the dentist upped the gas because the next thing I know his assistant is telling me “It’s okay, Leslie. Everything is going to be just fine.”

Leslie?

WHO IS LESLIE?!

I had no idea when I woke up this morning that I would walk into the dentist office today with a cracked tooth and leave with a temporary crown and an identity crisis.

But that’s what I’m learning about life. I have no control. I never did and I never will. That kind of power belongs only to God. 

And maybe if I can just keep reminding myself of that fact, I’ll start to relax a little more.

Because I can trust Him. Even when I don’t understand or have all the answers.

Even when I’m crazy scared.

HE is trustworthy and completely capable of taking care of me if I will simply surrender my delusions of control to Him.

After I got home, I was still processing everything when I saw this post from Jennifer White.

I guess God knew I needed that extra dose of confirmation since I’ll be headed back to the dentist in a couple of weeks to get my permanent crown.

Isn’t it amazing how God gives us what we need just when we need it? How, when we breathe His name, He breathes calm into our storm?

And how, in our most vulnerable moments, we can hear His voice gently singing over us, whispering peace. Whispering our name. Because we are His children and He knows us so well, loves us so deeply.

When we trust Him to repair all that is cracked and broken in us, we can rest. Our hearts protected. Sealed with grace.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!
Isaiah 43:1
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

My GIft To You

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 What is the one thing we all want for Christmas?
Hint:
You can’t get it online or at a crowded mall.
You can only find it by following a star to a lowly manger and, there, falling on your knees before the One who alone offers
that elusive gift we so desperately seek.
 
Peace.
Peace in the form of a baby. God incarnate inhabiting a body of flesh and bone and blood. A body that would one day be broken for us.
Isaiah prophesied about it in chapter 53, verse 5:
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
 Below you will find a simple prayer.This, a prayer for peace, along with a stunning a cappella version of O Holy Night performed by Martina McBride is my gift to you.

Dear Lord, 
 
I pray for the person who may have stumbled onto this page seemingly by accident. But since I don’t believe in accidents, I know you have a plan to bring much needed peace to them in this moment. I pray that a holy hush would settle their spirit and bring calm to the chaos and that, today and always, they would experience the deep, abiding peace that only comes from you.
 
In Jesus name, the Prince of Peace, we pray. Amen!

 



 

May you and your loved ones enjoy a peaceful and blessed Christmas!

How To Satisfy Our Deepest Cravings

 

We are entering the holiday season. Thanksgiving is just two weeks away! I’m trying to prepare myself because I know it can bring out the best and the worst of us. I’m always hoping and praying to find the best in others and in myself. But, the truth is, for all it’s festivity, food and frolic, this time of year can leave us empty. 

Unrealistic expectations create a cornucopia of emotions; we sit at the table with our bellies full and our hearts hungry for more.

Then comes Black Friday. A day that can be a fun tradition for some folks and not so fun for others who try to bulldoze their way to bargains at any cost. The term “Black Friday” was originally said to be one that police used to describe the heavy traffic jams associated with the busiest shopping day of the year. It now has a darker connotation for those who remember one of the most violent episodes in recent history.

You probably heard about it. It was 2008. A couple thousand people gathered outside a Walmart in New York anxiously awaiting the 5am opening.  The doors opened. The now unruly mob busted in trampling a 34-year old employee to death. The shoppers, who one employee referred to as “savages”, did nothing to help the victim but instead continued on their quest for the unholy grail. Saving a few bucks on a brand new…whatever.

How can so many people put saving dollars over saving a life? 

And sometimes our self-motivated agendas and insensitivity to others cause us to trample those closest to us. The wounds we inflict might be unseen but they leave a lasting scar so it is important that we learn the art of gentleness. Thankfully, we can learn from the Master!

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Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  

And, apparently sowing the seeds of gentleness will result in a bountiful harvest of blessing because He promises in Matthew 5:5 that “The meek (another word for gentle) will inherit the earth.”

I have found that it is very difficult to be gentle with others, or with yourself for that matter, when you are filled with turmoil. Peace evaporates when all we’re breathing is the dark, thick air of anxiety.

Like me. Yesterday morning.

I woke with this heavy blanket of worry covering me, thinking more about the bad than the good. Suddenly, I’m embarrassed to admit, I spewed anger. It came out of nowhere, or so I thought, and I was instantly appalled at my outburst. I mean, here I was, normally peace-loving me, barking like a wild animal! And I’ve heard that hungry howl before. It gets loudest when we’re feeling lost, hurt, scared. We are like starving predators on the prowl, hunting for something to fill us up. Something to satisfy those deep soul cravings.

I quickly apologized to my unsuspecting husband, witness to all of my shortcomings, and he showed me grace. Later, when I read this scripture, it hit home.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:5-7

Here’s what I am continually learning: God has control of all things. Not me. I must lay my burdens at His feet. And thanksgiving must be a part of my every day and not just a one-day-a-year celebration.

I must feast, not on worry, but on the Word so that I can receive what I’m really craving… the peace of God.  

I hope your holiday season leaves you satisfied, full of God’s blessings. And if you are already feeling overwhelmed, maybe you would like to join me in this prayer?

Lord, I do not want to invite anxiety into my life. Please help me, instead, to cultivate a gentle spirit by reaching out to you, inviting you to into every situation, knowing you can protect my mind and heart and cover me in perfect peace. Amen.

From Frazzled to Freed

Jesus Calling - 365 Day Perpetual Calendar

So I have this calendar that offers a daily quote from the book, Jesus Calling. And I read something this week I thought I would share with you. As a recovering worriholic (I think I may have just made up that word…), it really spoke to me.

“Learn to enjoy life more. Relax, remembering that I am God with you…The more you focus on My presence with you, the more fully you can enjoy life. Glorify Me through your pleasure in Me. Thus you proclaim My presence to the watching world.”

I started off this week frazzled, overwhelmed by life, people, circumstances. But as I have turned my gaze back to God, I can say I am ending the week at peace. Knowing He is with me, that He is in control, frees me from unseen chains and helps me to enjoy the life He has given me.

What about you? Are you living frazzled instead of freed? Do you feel alone?

Focus on God’s presence, seek Him in His word, take pleasure in the gifts He has given you. Remember that The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18



“You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.” 
Isaiah 26:3

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