Can’t Handle the Tooth

In honor of the incredible toothache pain I’m in right this very minute, I’m going to share a quote by one of my favorite authors of all time (and then a book of his, too). Or maybe two books of his. Or three. Or…

“If only this toothache would go away, I could write another chapter on the problem of pain.” -C.S. Lewis

That guy, up there, wrote exceedingly well about the God. And life. And pain. And love.

And friendship.

I like what he wrote about friendship so very much.

The first book of C.S. Lewis’ that I read was “The Four Loves”. Although still hovering over Christianity as though it were a possibility, I was still too full of Bertrand Russell and Friedrich Nietzsche to land.  And as I read Lewis’ take on charity, eros, philia, and storge, I realized there were enough “thinkers” in this Christianity gig to make it a pretty sure thing.

And then, I got to the part about friendship and I exhaled. Because, exactly.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

But, then in The Abolition of Man, Lewis brought me down to my knees. I thought I saw through all that religiosity and hypocrisy.

“You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it.”

Oh boy! He had my number. And as I speed read every book I could get my hands on (because, BOOKS!), I realized that there was no more denying God.

So I didn’t.

Ultimately, C.S. Lewis, turned my eyes outward and upward.

And they are ever upward.

Even as I sit here feeling like I can’t handle the tooth (pain). 

Yes indeedy.

If you are hovering over Christianity, grab a copy of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. Or, The Great Divorce. Or, if you are more fantasy fiction leaning, The Chronicles of Narnia series. (And no, it’s not just for youth. I daresay you get far more out of it as an adult!)

And then, if you missed any of my previous posts on the Best Books Ever, click the button below. I am writing this series as part of the Write 31 Days Challenge.

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Grace Galore

Sometimes, I think thoughts too big for my head.

And eat too much for my hips to bear.

Or buy more than my wallet has bills for.

But in it all, His grace is sufficient for me.

And when I hear someone else talk about what they are going through and it’s obvious that my problems are small, comparatively, I am instantly reminded of just how grateful I need to be.  My heart remembers what all I’ve been given.

Life, abundantly (hips and all).

Love, never-ending.

And grace galore.

Always grace galore.

May you find that grace for yourself in this new year, my friends.  Yes indeedy!

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Table For Two, Please

One of my dearest friends loves to eat at restaurants. She’ll bring her favorite book and politely ask wait staff if she can “rent the table” for a little longer, when she finishes eating.

When I get the privilege of meeting her for a meal, I can always count on two things.  The first is that she will arrive before me.  I try to get there on time – I really do; but she knows me well. The second thing that happens, without fail, is that as I round the bend in the restaurant to get to our table, I find her hunched over whatever book she is currently reading, devouring a page. It makes me smile every time.

Her enthusiasm for reading is infectious.

And I can identify. I feel a lot like that whenever I get alone time with my God to read His Words.

Carving out the time in my day to do that is no easy task.  And, I’m sure that’s true for many of us.  But, it’s also critical.  Renee Swope reminds us, in her book, “A Confident Heart”, that we can’t “find” the time to spend with our Jesus.  We have to make the time.

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And He can help us do that.  We need only ask Him to.

Even if we work outside the home and have family responsibilities. Even if we work the night shift, or struggle under the weight of unemployment, or suffer with a long-term illness. Even if we are double-dog tired by days end. Whatever your “even if” situation is, when you ask Jesus to clear the way for more time to spend with Him, I can promise you, He will! He’s just waiting to be asked.

Maybe, that’s why I love spending time with Him.  He doesn’t force me to come to Him. He invites me to.

He’s inviting you, too.

Who doesn’t want to accept an invitation like that?

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The time that I carve out to spend with God is indeed at a table; but not at a restaurant table.  No. My kitchen table serves as the place where I can lay out His Good Word and my pencil and notebook and concordance and notecards and…

It’s a production, you see.  I want to be able to look up any word I don’t understand.  I need to be able to write any thoughts that He may bring to mind about my current thinking or behaving.  His truth needs to be underlined or starred or re-read out loud. Sometimes, I feel the need to re-write some Truth to be placed in a location where I can easily see it again and again.

And I just can’t do that in a restaurant.

But I most certainly can at home. For it is in those precious quiet moments, without distractions that I am able to hear Him speak soothingly to the hurt places and joyfully to the dark places and softly to the hard places.

And that table? It is always a table for two.

Join me over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study today. We’re discussing chapter 9 of “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope.  And the topic?  #WhyWorry I don’t know about you, but I stand to learn much about that!  Go be encouraged.

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The Method of the Message

“All the world’s a stage.”

William Shakespeare

Recently, I peeled back some of those silly surface layers I pile on around here to share a little corner of my heart that needed some serious light shined in. And it felt like a too-bright spotlight was being shined on just such a space that desperately needed some cobwebs swept away to make more room for God to pour into. And He did.  Oh, how He did!

Actually, He’s still sweeping.

At the time that I wrote about all the editing, I felt some guilt. I’m not gonna lie. We like to call that conviction, around here. It was never my intention to make my daily life a stage.  I’ve spent more than a little time wondering where the line that determines sharing to be known for the rights reasons (making someone feel less alone) and sharing to be known for the wrong ones (do I matter to others?) lies.

But…

I’m enamored of a God who dispenses grace like candy. And, although He does indeed give me a good swift kick in the shorts sometimes, it’s only because I need it.  Here’s the beautiful thing, though – I can always count on Him to liberally apply The Balm of Grace to this convicted little heart of mine, afterwards.

And he did that this weekend.

Listening to a message about the different parts of the body and how they each have a function and each one is necessary for the entire body to function properly, I felt His merciful grace drenching my sore spirit. He whispered gently of how He lovingly created me.  Exactly as I am. And He reminded me of my function and place within the body of Christ.

We are each gifted with a different way to share the message of God’s love with others.

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I felt Him clearly telling me that it’s not a bad thing that I share my message with a side of funny.  That is part, I hope, of what appeals to some of you who so graciously subscribe to my nonsense on a regular basis. (I surely do like me some people with a sense of humor. Thank you LORD for my friends here!)

But… I realize that there are times when, to get God’s message of Love and Hope out there, I have to bring it uninvited.   And, I know this to be true from personal experience. There are so many folks on this here World Wide Web, especially in my little corner of it, who don’t want a full on message of Love and Hope.  They’d rather have a quick little morsel of truth wrapped up in Some Funny.  I get that.  I do. Mostly because, not so long ago, that was me. My heart couldn’t handle the truth.  It literally could not.

And, honestly? I still wrestle with The Truth sometimes.

So, I write about the mishaps and the grace that always follow because I want to be reminded that it’s True.

God will always shed grace.

Always.

We can really only share what we have authentically experienced ourselves, right?

It turns out that Shakespeare was pretty stinkin’ smart.  Our entire world really is a stage. Each of us truly is an actor of sorts.  We each have a message inside.  And we are each gifted differently for its delivery.  The method of my message will continue to be delivered in a way exclusive to what God lays upon my heart and the way He has wired me to deliver it.  The same is true for you.

As I vigilantly watch for that swift kick before it connects with my backside,  I will continue on with my message.

The mishaps will continue to be a’plenty – I’ve no doubt.

But there is always grace galore.

Yes indeedy!

Doing It Scared

There are just so many things.

So many things that I, daily, do scared.

Want a “short list”?

  • Attempt to walk in heels higher than an inch
  • Cook
  • Wear anything white
  • Exercise

And then there’s the more serious stuff:

  • Parent
  • Believe in the promises God whispers through His Word
  • Speak up on others’ behalf
  • Make choices about media, attention and adoration
  • Trust that it really is all Good for those that love Him

And, friends?  That’s the Short List.

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about how super-confident others perceive me to be.  And yet, how very little confidence I truly possess. (I do believe some folks confuse the Gift of Gab with the trait of Confidence, but that might well be a different post for a different day.)

I can’t help but wonder if God is allowing me glimpses into all of these things I hold so fearfully in my heart because He is preparing a way for my heart to gain more confidence. True confidence.  In my heart. Where it needs to be.

Proverbs 31 Ministries is beginning their next Online Bible Study on October 13th.  It’s called…

Wait for it…

A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. 

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Can I even tell you how God-orchestrated this study seems to be for the current health of my heart?

Will you consider joining me? And a “couple” of other women from around the world?

Click here to sign up.

And if you’re doing it scared, know that we’re in this together!

All The Editing

I’m keeping the tone of what I have to say light, but be sure of this – I’m sharing deep here, today.  And it’s scary deep, to me.

“Conversations happen in real time and cannot be edited.” *  This quote, my friend Katie heard recently, really stuck in my craw.

Hard.

Then, a few days later, I listened to an online message about looking for likes in all the wrong places. And my ears perked up all over again at this: “Instead of trying to sound interesting, build others up.” (by Steven Furtick)

Ouch.

In all of the thinking I’ve been doing about these two quotes, I keep going back to that first one about conversation. I’ve realized that people only see a sliver of what’s really going on in my real life on social media exactly because I do so much “editing”.

All The Editing can’t be a good thing. It makes it seem like I am so much more witty, intelligent, or jovial than I really am.

Don’t get me wrong here, I don’t believe that being any of those things are negative. In fact, I’m a firm believer that God gave each of us particular gifts to be shared with the world.  As long as we’re pouring Him out into and onto others as we go along, and doing it all for His glory.

But here’s the rub, for me: I start to believe that I am nothing if I’m not able to make enough people laugh (at me), or join the conversation (with me), or show interest.

In me.

I’m cringing as I’ve tapped out those two little words.  They tell me all I need to know about the condition of my heart, deceitful above all things.

I just can’t get that initial conversation quote out of my head, either! Maybe because I’m not supposed to. It sure felt like that quote was directed straight toward my heart when I first read it.  The dagger of truth only sank deeper and deeper in each time it crossed my mind.

I truly can’t edit a conversation. Right? Not if it is happening in the now. Oh sure, I can go back and tweak it, or polish it up to make a point, or highlight certain words for emphasis that I hope others will find interesting or important or impressive.  All of those “I” words that our God actually cares nothing for.  He is not interested in my highest highs being the only thing others see.

He’s interested in being the only thing I show others.

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The more I think on it, the more I believe that was the lesson for me.  No matter how I go about living my life, what tweaks I make, or places in my life that I decide to polish up – I need to be doing it for God’s glory. And His alone.

Every detail, for God. Period.

*(Click on the quote at the beginning of this post and you can read more about what sparked all of this thinking in the first place. You’re going to want to check that out. I Promise.)

Help Me to Be

The prayer in my devotional the other morning referenced the attributes of God.  Kindness and goodness shown to others will reflect God’s Kindness and Goodness. That seemed like standard issue advice for any person calling themselves a Christian, right?

“Help me, Lord, to reflect your attributes to the people in my life.” was the gist of the prayer at the end.

I headed downstairs, ready to take on the day, feeling fully empowered to do just that.

And then reality hit.

Sweetman had just returned from a few days away with his best friend. I found myself increasingly agitated with his “droppings” throughout the house: A toiletries bag to be unpacked here and a jacket to be sent to the dry cleaners over there, a little half-started pile of laundry up here and receipts to be gone through down there.

Snippy comments were also dropped.

But, not by Sweetman.

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This is a word.  For my heart, it’s a word that The One who tends my heart knew I needed to hear.

And so I found myself praying, Lord, help me. Help me to be kind when I would rather snip. Help me to be gentle when it would be easier to snap.  Help me to be more of You and less of me. Please.”

And I realized, for about the millionth time, that God has infinite patience.  He is infinitely kind and merciful to those who love Him.  And I do.  Oh, how I do.

I long for the way I behave to reflect that.  Lord, God, let my thoughts and actions reflect that

Yes indeedy!