QT Journals

Journal 12
Sept.23rd 2011

 8 So the LORD called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 And Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. (1 Samuel 3:8-9)

I am so prideful some times.  I sit on my little throne of information, and dole it out to the masses.  Being involved with youth and college ministry for years, I have had my fair share of girls come and seek advice.  Due to those tumultuous years of heartache, emotions, broken dreams, and relational trauma, there are countless memories I have of eating cooking dough and ministering to sweet souls. 

Although I would always point them to scripture, I usually would do so after I read to them from 1 Opinions.  I love that the verse says Eli discerned that the Lord was calling the boy.  He allowed the Holy Spirit to guide his communication and advice to Samuel.  Many times, when someone has sought advice from me, I have simply jumped into the counsel without stopping first and praying for the Holy Spirit to direct me.   

Not only does Eli first listen to the Spirit, but he then pushes Samuel to seek and listen to God.  Eli’s only advice was to be with the Lord.

I am convicted on the way I function on autopilot sometimes in ministry and my life.  I have lists of scripture references for issues and problems kids deal with.  I have go-to applications and stories to illustrate points.  These are all very useful and definitely of the Lord, but they miss one of the key disciplines in walking with the Lord.

We have to learn to seek and listen to the Lord ourselves so we can learn to recognize his voice and the way he illuminates his word.  My opinions about his word pales in comparison to the mind of God, which is revealed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Journal 11
September 21st

13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13)

I am a worrier… once a thought comes into my mind, it’s like I am on a bicycle going down a hill.  No matter how fast I try to move my legs, the pedals start spinning and I can’t keep up. 

Last night, we couldn’t find a babysitter for an important meeting I had to attend.  My mind bike started heading down the hill.  My sweet husband said, “I’ll take care of it,” but I still couldn’t let it go.  It was not that I did not trust my husband to do it, I was just so concerned that it get done immediately that I took matters into my own hands.  And when I couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night from worry, I began to text babysitters.

The next morning BJ was so sad.  No just because I had been so filled with anxiety that I couldn’t sleep, but because I did not trust him to care for me.  He wanted what was best for me, and his one desire was to serve and love me.  And I had not allowed him. 

I feel that way with God’s work in my life.  If I don’t like the speed at which he is moving, I take control.  If I don’t see the full picture of his plan for me, I start my own plan.  If I could just sit back and rest in his promise I could find so much peace.  He is at work in me.  He does have a beautiful plan and a beautiful time frame.  All I need to do is sit close to him and wait.  It brings him joy to have his daughter trust and it brings me joy to live in the freedom of surrender to him.

I do not have to search for his will and direction.  He chose me to work out his plans and he will reveal them to me.  I simply spend time with him, wait, and respond.

 Journal 10
September 20th
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  (Romans 12:1-2)

This entire year I have struggled with the term "die to self" or "live sacrificially".  Many people in my life advised me of what this would look like as a new mother, but I disliked the negative connotation of "sacrifice" and "die".  Those words, in our culture, have a negative feeling associated with them.  Dying is a morbid and threatening thing.  Sacrificing is viewed as an almost hesitant action, that of someone unwillingly surrendering something.

But I know these are the words of the Lord...so I struggled to understand.  But, in recent weeks the Holy Spirit has given me new insight into these words.  I love this verse from Romans because if puts so beautifully the sentiment.  Sacrifice is actually an "offering".  When we offer something up, we are doing of our own accord.  No one is coercing or pressuring.  It comes from that sweet place in our heart to generously give.

According to the verse, we generously give because we can do nothing else.  God's sweet mercy gives us the freedom to throw ourselves and our bodies willing into the hands of the Lord because there is no other place that is as beautiful.

I love that it is called "worship".  The times when I have felt like I am truly worshiping the Lord is when I have thrown off this world and thrown myself with wild abandon into the presence of the Lord.   In those times I cannot help but sing his praises because he is so good.  I want to present or offer myself as a living sacrifice because there is no where else I would want to be.

Journal 9
Sept.17th 2011

7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Working out has become an obsession in our world.  There is always some new fitness craze.  In high school it was Tae Bo.  In college it was Kickboxing.  After college it was Pilates. Now it’s Cross Fit.  I have spent so much money on gym membership and countless hours counting calories and obsessing over weight.  I look back and see a clear litmus test of my priorities. 

What if I scheduled my time with the Lord with as much precision as I do my aerobics and yoga classes?  What if I chose the conversations I have and the movies I watch with as much care I do with food I put in my mouth?  I desire to view my prayer life and my time in the word as training in discipline.  The more I practice, the stronger I become.  The more time learning about who Jesus is, the more I become like him.  The more time in prayer I have with the Lord, the easier it becomes to hear him.  The more I listen to the Holy Spirit, the quicker I respond. 

Because, in the end, this body will fall apart.  That is a promise.  I already see the signs that I am on the downward slope.  Things are more saggy; lines are more prominent; creaks are louder.  The body fails, but the brilliance of Jesus shining through these broken vessels is glorious.

Journal 8
Sept.15th 2011

 18 “Forget the former things;
 do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
 and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19)

I have a tendency to be nostalgic.  I cling to the term, “The good ol’ days” and seem to forget the difficulties of the past and focus only on the shiny sparkly things.  This has especially been true in my spiritual journey with the Lord.  I look back on former days and revel at the intimate ways the Lord spoke to me and revealed his heart.  I yearn to experience the Lord in similar ways.

What I fail to understand is that my life has changed.  I am no longer working in full time ministry where part of my job description was to pour over the word and be in contemplative prayer for hours.  As a single woman, I would meet with girls in coffee shops and discuss the character of God and pray diligently for the revelation of God in their lives. 

God has brought me to a new and unbelievably exciting phase on life, and as he has sanctified me daily, why would I think he would speak to me the same way?  Why do I believe that I can only experience the presence of God in a coffee shop, or on the side of a mountain leading a hiking expedition?

God longs to reveal himself to me through the beauty of my son.  He longs to show me more of his loving character through the interactions with my husband.  He desires to show me the depths of my sin and the mercy of his forgiveness through the way the washing machine cleans the poop covered crib sheets. 

I cannot wait to see the “new thing” that God is doing in this stage of my life and how he will be using me to his glory.  I have considered this time period a bit of a spiritual wasteland…being so tired as a new mom with mounting responsibilities.  But God is bringing streams or refreshing revelation to what I believed was a barren time.  I am so excited to sit, listen, and be blown away.

Journal 7
Sept.14th 2011

 20 The LORD is in his holy temple;
   let all the earth be silent before him. (Habakkuk 2:20)

We live in a loud world.  I have started to take note of all the noise in my day.  I wake up and turn on the news to have an update of my world.  I have music playing in my car.  I plug my headphones in at the gym.  To simply work in utter silence feels uncomfortable, but maybe that is what I am being called to for a season.

How much of my brain can shut down when the tv is on constantly in my living room.  My mind can zone out and set a course on autopilot.  But how much does my heavenly Father wish to be in constant communion with me, and I simply am not hearing because of all the noise.

What would my prayer life be like if I turned off the television while folding clothes and spoke with my Father?  What kind of meditation could I encounter were I to turn down the radio in the car and watch God’s creation pass around me?  What would he say to me if I just sat and listened next time I was early to an event instead of catching up on my email?
What does it say about the value of the Lord to me if I am continually tuning him out?  I love this verse, because it states with absolute certainty that God is currently in his temple.  He is right now reigning on high, ready to speak to me and care for me.  He is there waiting while I dismiss him with the business of my noise.  My prayer is that I have a right view of the sovereignty of God, because if I did, I would be speechless in his presence because there would be no words to describe his majesty.

Journal 6 -  "Ancient Paths"
Sept.12th 2011

 16 Thus says the LORD,
“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ (Jeremiah 6:16)

I am terrible with directions.  No, terrible in an understatement.  There must be a faulty synapse in the directions center of my brain.  Even if I have been to a location once before, I always flip my computer open one more time and check my best friend, Google Maps, before running out the door.  Half the time, even after careful review, I take a wrong turn.

But as directionally challenged as I am, I remember as a child, on the way home from a trip, I could close my eyes when we entered Austin and know exactly what road we were on by the turns and curves of the car.  I was so familiar with the way home that I knew our exact location by the incline of a simple road.  Just the same way, I could walk into my parent’s house tomorrow at 33 years old and close my eyes and navigate the maze of rooms by memory.

My parent’s house is like those ancient paths.  In Jeremiah, the Israelites were constantly turning away from the Lord, and were continually being conquered and crying out.  God’s response was always to turn back to him and remember his promises.  They were forever responding, “we will not walk in it”. As followers of Jesus, we are marked by the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The truth has been planted deep inside of us, constantly guiding and teaching and enlightening.

Most of the time, I find myself functioning out of my own strength, and as a result, turn the volume of the Lord down in my heart.  As the road of my life gets bumpier and my sin grows deeper, if I am not going back to scripture as my guide, listening to the Holy Spirit to direct, I am in a world of hurt.  That is why we are called to write the Truth on the tablet of our heart, so we can close our eyes and let the ancient paths direct us to peace, hope, and rest in Jesus Christ.

Journal 5
Sept.11th 2011
9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10)

My son Colton is a year old and is slowly learning to walk.  He is a dynamite crawler, a speed racer darting from one room to another, leaving a disaster in his wake.  But, the walking has been a slower process.  He has tentatively taken a few steps at a time towards whatever carrot we have dangled before him. 

He will take a step, pause, wave his hands in hesitant anticipation, then sit back down.  This cautious approach to walking had been going on for a couple of weeks.

A couple of days ago, after being gone all day subbing, Colton and I had some sweet time together.  He was extra affectionate, which is a rarity in my busy little man.  He would play independently, then, almost in a panic quickly crawl over and cuddle for reassurance that I was not leaving again.  The most precious moment came when he was standing at the coffee table and instead of a few tentative steps he quickly took four or five big strides and lunged into my arms.

There was such utter joy on his face and complete satisfaction in his countenance.  He had realized the distance between he and his mother and dove headfirst into my arms, trusting I would catch him.  Colton knew my love for him, knew I wouldn’t let him fall. 

I struggle with trusting the Lord to have my best interests at heart.  I cannot seem to comprehend the great love he has for me.  His love is so magnificent, and I seem to dismiss it most of the time.  This great love drove Him to become flesh on this broken earth and pay the penalty for my sin….because he loves me so much.  How much different would I be if I were living out of the fullness of his love for me?

What would my life be like if I too jumped, head first into his loving arms every day? 

Journal 4
Sept.9 th 2011
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. (Psalm 116:1)

Like I have said many times before, I have great aspirations of being a garden genus.  I spend money on plants and flowers for my back yard and they always wither into a pitiful brown mess.  Oh, I could recite excuse after excuse about why, but it boils down to the fact that I neglect the plants completely.

I feel like I have been doing that with my own prayer life concerning myself.  I make list of prayer requests for others.  I go before the Lord constantly throughout the day praying for my family and friends, but I neglect to pray for myself.

I wrestle with the junky mess of my own sin, but find myself trying to paddle my way to the shoreline on my own.  I neglect taking my bumps and bruises before the Lord in anticipation of healing.  I spend a great deal of time identifying the sin yet do not seek the one true solution.  It is like someone who has broken their arm.  They identify the symptoms and the issue, but refuse to go to the doctor get their arm “set” for proper healing to occur. 

My prayer is that I will not just sit amidst the junk in my room, but open the door for the Lord to sweep in and help me sort through the mess.  I cannot forget about myself, because my Father in heaven has not, and will not ever forget about me.

Journal 3
Sept.7th 2011

3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;
   in the morning I lay my requests before you
   and wait in expectation. (Psalm 5:3)

I am a striver… I don’t even know if that is a word, but to me it sums up my need to always strive to achieve.  Growing up, I always believed the lie that I was a little lacking.  I was not focused enough, not disciplined enough, not calm enough, not selfless enough, not responsible enough.  I was never fully enough.

Through the years, believing these lies has manifested itself into a desire to people please at all cost.  I see my tendency to please others and find worth in my achievement in friendships, educations, jobs and even in relationships.  But the most unsettling place I see this is in my spiritual life.

At times when I don’t feel close to the Lord I immediately believe the lies that I am not spiritual enough, and that opens the door to an avalanche “doing”.  I begin to list all the “things” I should do to draw God closer to me. 

It hit me today…I don’t have to do anything but sit at his feet.  He is already there.  Just drawing near to him and surrendering is the only thing I can do.  He does the rest.  I just have to sit.  There ain’t nothing better than that.   

Journal 2
Sept. 6th 2011

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.   (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

Colton, my son, is not what I would consider “cuddly”.  When I found out I was pregnant, I had beautiful dreams of rocking my son for hours on end; of him curled in my lap reading stories or watching tv together.  But, the reality has been that my son does not like to cuddle, and that is absolutely fine.  He is affectionate in other ways, but quietly sitting is something of a foreign concept to him.

Just recently, he has been having a teething marathon… 4 upper teeth at once.  He is fussier and more irritable than usual.  And for the first time I would find him laying his precious head on my leg, or crawling into my lap.  I loved the feeling of him needing me, of him desiring me to comfort and love on him.  I am the person with whom he knows he will find respite.  What a beautiful gift that is.

I know that is how my father in heaven feels when I crawl to him in my times of hurt and pain.  If I, a weak and wicked mess of a person, feels such overwhelming joy and desire for that connection with my son, how much more does God experience that feeling.

But I run.  When the pain is too intense, I crawl away.  When the lies of the enemy threaten my identity and echo painfully in my ears, I hide.  The only place I should be going is to my King.  I should crawl into his lap and let him wash his love and adoration and comfort over me. 

I love that verse from Corinthians because it gives me hope for my only mother badge of honor.  I cannot do anything of my own accord that would make me a good mother.  I cannot do anything in my own strength that would make me a loving wife or comforting friend.  The only thing I can do is to submit and fall at the foot of my Father and allow him to lavish me with his love.  Only then can I offer, through the Holy Spirit, compassion and truth to my loved ones.  

Journal 1 
Sept. 5th 2011

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

I have quite an active imagination.  My imagination sometimes goes beyond romantic notions, alien invasions, or fairy godmothers.  Sometimes I actually believe things about myself that are not quite so true.  For example, I have convinced myself that I have a green thumb and have visions or lush, thriving gardens teaming with colorful flora and fauna.  In fact, however, I kill everything that I touch.  Thank goodness for Lowe’s return policy that extends to plants, because I would have put us in the poor house years ago with all my plant inspiration.

On of the plants that initially lived in my beds when I moved into my house was “Wandering Jew” or “Purple Heart Plant”.  Despite the delicate purple flowers, I was not impressed by the plant and took it upon myself to rip it out.  However, I was unaware of the heartiness of this plant.  I pulled this sucker out by the roots, but its intricate root system runs deep with runners splitting off in different directions.  Basically, it is a resilient and persistent plant that is near impossible to eradicate.

Every couple of months more purple leaves burst through the soil, over and over again.  But instead of growing frustration, I began to embrace the beautiful purple shades and admired its dedication.  I feel quite silly comparing my spiritual life to a plant, but here we go:

I have struggled since having my child, for about a year now, with having any real depth and consistency in my time with the Lord.  I create so many excuses, “I don’t have time”; “there is too much laundry”; “I just need to download by watching television”; “I just need a nap”. 

Those are all excuses, because it does not matter what my house looks like or how many chores I have completed.  It does not even matter if I have enough sleep.  The only thing that matters is the relationship with my heavenly Father.  He is the creator of the universe.  He is the Alpha and the Omega.  He is the only comfort, the only hope and the only truth, and I can’t seem to find enough time to spend with Him?

No matter the frustration, the hurt, the weariness, the mounting demands of life…. I want to crave to be with my Father.  I want to be persistent, disciplined, committed to spending time with the Lord. I want to throw off all the junk of my life, push it out of the way so I can focus on my King.  When all the other plants in my backyard wither and die, the Purple Heart pushes on, breaking through the mulch into the light.  I want that to be the discipline of my scripture study and prayer life.