Riches in Glory

Today I am found
On my heavenly Daddy’s lap…
From His heart oozes
All that I need;
Like a puddle of golden liquid-love,
His ‘riches in glory’
Soak into my weary skin.
This grace from ‘The Anointed One’ –
Honey-like spiritual favor and blessing –
Is given to be with my spirit.
So. Be. It.

With every need supplied,
Liberally,
Not ‘just enough,’
But filled to the full,
I have strength.
I am made able to do
Whatever God has assigned me.
Empowered in Christ
Who infuses inner strength into me
I am equal to the task(s) before me;
Self-sufficient in His sufficiency.

My own feeble strength
Is not my portion.
Heaven’s supply is richly transferred
Through our vital union,
As I abide on this lap,
Lean in to this heart,
Become one with it’s rhythms
Facing another earth-life day.

It is true:
I am always with You.
You hold me by Your right hand,
You guide me with Your counsel.
My journey will not end in defeat,
For You bring me ever honward toward honor & glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And being with you
My desire is turned from earthly things.
My heart and my flesh may fail
But their cry is only for You :
God, the strength of my heart
And my portion forever.

Philippians 4:13, 19, 23; John 15:4-5; Psalm 73: 23-26

I WONDER… Thoughts on Death and Resurrection

Thoughts on DEATH AND RESURRECTION – the day after Easter.

This morning I woke up to a gentle touch. It was exactly as if someone laid a gentle hand on my side to wake me up. It felt like a mother’s touch. No person was in my room. I’ve been having more & more experiences like that – very real, but not natural. It doesn’t frighten me. I simply take it at face value because I believe the spirit realm is real and God loves me. The veil seems to be getting thinner.

I am often woken with thoughts…. and that’s how my day begins. [Isaiah 50:4 He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.] Today’s were about death and life after death. I’ve been pondering this for a while…. ever since a few years ago I had the experience of being at the bedside of a birth and a death very close together. They suddenly became very connected.

I want to start by sharing this little piece written by Henri Nouwen:

“Twins are talking to each other in the womb. The sister said to the brother, “I believe there is life after birth.” Her brother protested vehemently, “No, no, this is all there is. This is a dark and cozy place, and we have nothing else to do but to cling to the cord that feeds us.” The little girl insisted, “There must be something more than this dark place. There must be something else, a place with light where there is freedom to move.” Still she could not convince her twin brother.

After some silence, the sister said hesitantly, “I have something else to say, and I’m afraid you won’t believe that, either, but I think there is a mother.” Her brother became furious. “A mother!” he shouted. “What are you talking about?” I have never seen a mother, and neither have you. Who put that idea in your head? As I told you, this place is all we have. Why do you always want more? This is not such a bad place, after all. We have all we need, so let’s be content.”

The sister was quite overwhelmed by her brother’s response and for a while didn’t dare say anything more. But she couldn’t let go of her thoughts, and since she only had her twin brother to speak to, she finally said, “Don’t you feel these squeezes every once in a while? They’re quite unpleasant and sometimes even painful.” “Yes,” he answered. “What’s special about that?” “Well”, the sister said, “I think that these squeezes are there to get us ready for another place, much more beautiful than this, where we will see our mother face-to-face. Don’t you think that’s exciting???”

Thank you, Henri, I love that!

The birth I had the privilege to attend was Amari Bazett’s debut into the world. She passed through her mother’s birth canal from her small dark home into the bright light of a new day – to live out her life in the world she’d only ‘felt,’ ‘heard’ and ’seen through a glass darkly’ by her senses for a relatively short 9-month period of development, that could potentially last about 90 years.

The death I had the privilege to attend, with several other’s surrounding her bed, was Terri Hesselgesser’s passing from this life to the next. Her spirit left the body that had housed it for too short a time, here…. to pass through a ‘tunnel towards the light’ that looks and feels like a birth canal, from all descriptions of near death experiences. [I’ve had one myself]. We call this ‘death’ because our loved one leaves this world – and enters the next. Just like birth. But they are actually very much alive – ‘on the other side’ – in the place they’d only ‘felt,’ ‘heard’ and ’seen through a glass darkly’ by their senses, for a relatively short period of development.

For our fleeting 90 years, or less, here – we are being prepared for the real life we were made for – there. ‘On the other side of the veil’ means to be, finally, ‘Face to Face’; ‘in the arms of God’ (our Heavenly Father/Mother/Lover); ‘Alive in the light of Eternal Day’ … experiencing what awaits us that we’ve only had brief glimpses and guesses at throughout our life span – here. [I Corinthians 2:9 Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”]

I WONDER…. Are we somehow ‘in the womb of God’ in this life? Completely surrounded by and fed with His/Her life-sustaining chord of attachment? Is the veil growing thinner much like the effacing of the membrane separating a baby, pre- birth, from the world he/she is about to enter? Was the gentle touch I experienced this morning like a mother’s hand on her belly – intentionally ‘touching’ the baby separated by a thin veil of flesh between them?

A Formula for Grieving

Because someone dear to me has suffered a deep loss early in this new year – my heart is thinking about GRIEF. Besides, I am about to teach a class called ‘A GRACE TO GRIEVE’ as well. [CTK.church] So this blog is both caring and preparing, in my life at present.

 

These dear ones reached out to me for some ‘short, easy read’ resources on how to grieve. Of course, it makes no sense to throw at a griever, in the throws of navigating early loss, a big, thick book of  ‘how tos’. One of my favorite reads on grief, because it is exactly that – short and concise, though thorough – is “GOOD GRIEF,” by Granger E. Westberg. (It’s in it’s FIFTIETH edition.) But since I am somewhat of an expert on the grieving process by now – not only because I basically lead people through their’s for a living… but have experienced a great deal more of it than I ever expected in my own life… I share some of my own thoughts with you today, as well.

 

My dear one whose lost much recently is an engineer. He likes formulas. So just for him, I am going to call this “A FORMULA FOR GRIEVING LOSS.”

 

It is found in Psalm 42.

 

It comes from David’s journaling, at a time of bewildering suffering in his own life. He starts out with foundational TRUTH, which is always so important when we are side-swiped by unexpected loss. Truth grounds us, and helps us not to be swept away in the midst of our pain, getting lost in our own losses.

 

OUR CENTRAL LONGING

 

PSALM 42 :1 declares that the foundational longing in all human lives is a deep thirst in our inner being for the living God. We may not know what it is, or it may have become covered over, or dulled, by life’s busy demands, pleasures or distractions, but it is there. (Just like water is our basic nutritional need, but our thirst will become dulled when we are dehydrated, making us less aware that we are thirsty.) David chooses a word picture he is familiar with from all his years of shepherding: “As the hart pants & longs for the water brooks, so I pant and long for YOU, O GOD. My inner self thirsts for God,  for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?”

 

In GRIEF, we will feel deep longing for what we have LOST. It is appropriate that David begins by acknowledging the deepest longing of every human soul: Our LONGING for God. [It is as if we have ‘lost Him’ – and we want and need and long to find Him again.]

 

Verse 3 gives us the emotional context from which David is journaling; “My tears have been my food day and night.” He is in deep grief.

 

This is followed by an interesting statement: “While men say to me all day long “Where is your God???!!!!” I do not know a person, including myself, while grieving deeply, who hasn’t felt and asked this essential question: “God where are you???!!!! And WHO are You, that You would allow such pain; such loss?” This soul cry can be easily mis-directed toward bitterness, but is, in essence, “Deep calling to Deep” as we traverse ‘The Valley of Shadows” through which we weep. [Psalm 23, Psalm 84].

 

SUFFERING WILL BRING US DEEPER.

 

David expresses it powerfully in verse 7. “DEEP CALLS TO DEEP at the roar of your waterspouts! All your waves and breakers have swept over me!” This is dramatic, thunderous language – and those in deep grief will understand it. A waterspout is ‘a whirlwind over a body of water; a large tube formed of clouds by means of electric fluid, that is hollow within and attracts vast quantities of water, which it frequently puts down in roaring torrents upon the earth.’ The ravages of these ‘spouts’ were common along the coast of Syria and no doubt often seen by the psalmist.

 

The ‘base’ of these water spouts is actually at the top, and the swirling point reaches down deep into the sea, with a thunderous roar, from the clouds. In essence, this  speaks of the Sprit of God reaching deep into the spirit of His children, with passionate longing to meet and know us deeply. But David expresses it from our side, “My deep calls out to Your deep, God!” And the thundering swirl from above is an analogy for God’s passionate reply to our cry.

 

Of course, we will resist this suffering that will bring us deeper. But if we will SURRENDER to the paths our pain will lead us toward, ALLOWING and EMBRACING the PROCESS that WILL ensue, we will be LED THROUGH. And surely, within us, our very sorrow will develop, in time, sweet pools of blessing that will refresh us and many others. [Psalm 84, again.]

 

There is truly something about grief, that, if allowed, will lead us to the very heart of our God. While we long for what we have lost, our sorrow puts us in touch with our deepest, truest longing of all. This process begins with deeply CONTEMPLATING our loss (not skimming it over) and honestly EXPRESSING our sorrow. Psalm 42:4: “These things I remember and pour myself out within me….”

 

The Psalmist explains this ‘path of tears’ in another place, already mentioned. Psalm 84. [Psalm 42 x 2 = Psalm 84 is an easy way to remember this connection]. This Psalm starts with the same expressed longing for God. Then it says: Blessed (happy, fortunate and to be envied) is the man who sets his/her heart on (this) pilgrimage, on which will be won pathways to God’s presence (Zion) within. [Your own heart will, in time, have an inner map that others can follow toward HIM.] And then, the journey through grief is made clear: you will traverse through the ‘VALLEY OF WEEPING (BACA)”….. until, in time, as you process your pain, it will be turned into ‘POOLS OF BLESSING’ that will be great gain for your own life, and great refreshment for many others.

 

Dear grievers,

May your painful longings,

bring you to their deepest source

and secure your depths

in His.

 

THE FORMULA

Now, for ‘the formula.’ It’s found in Psalm 42: 5. David faces his loss with 3 simple (not to be confused with ‘easy’) steps:

 

1) First he QUESTIONS himself (his own soul) and asks honestly:

 

“WHY are you downcast oh my inner self? Why do you moan; why are you disquieted within me?” This is a first and essential step in the process of grieving. And it is not a rhetorical question. We must answer honestly and deeply: “Why am I grieving? What have I lost? What does this loss mean to me?” This is the most painful and lengthy part of any grieving process. We will not pass through the valley of weeping and reach the other side, without honest contemplation and expression of our personal losses. This is the painful wrestle required…. that will involve deep emotions, many tears and several  pens and journal pages… (or journals, if you write like me).

 

2) Then, he INSTRUCTS himself:

 

David says in essence, “Soul, this is hard. So hard that you will be tempted to turn to your own ways and forsake any hope of recovery. So, soul, this is what you are going to do. HOPE IN GOD and wait expectantly for Him. All is not lost, though right now that seems untrue. Remember WHO is your anchor and hold onto what is TRUE through the depth of your ordeal.”

 

3) Then he DECIDES and DECLARES what he is going to do:

 

“I WILL YET PRAISE HIM, my HELP and my GOD.” These are not casual words – this is a desperate confirmation of WHERE and in WHOM his strength lies, that brings sweet relief to David’s soul in the midst of crushing heart break. And we can and must do the same, to secure our journey, no matter how traumatic.

 

Dear grievers,

Your God

is very near

to the broken hearted,

and saves those

who are crushed in spirit.

[Ps. 34:18]

 

He rescues all

who cling to Him.

[Ps. 91:14]

 

 

PERMITTING GOD TO DIRECT OUR PAIN

 

The thought of a ‘formula’ may seem, to some, to cheapen the deep process that real grieving entails. But while simple steps help guide us in a time of great and confusing emotional upheaval, honest grief is never cheap. Our personal journey through grief after loss is just that – very personal. David has shared with us a map (Psalm 84) and a general formula (Psalm 42), but finding your way after deep loss, will be your own heart’s pilgrimage. So I want to share one more essential scripture that has become a favorite of mine about the reality of all that grieving entails:

 

It’s found in II Corinthians 7:10 and I like the Amplified version’s expression the best. This has become, for me, the best definition I’ve ever found to describe “Godly Grief.”

II Corinthians 7:10

“For GODLY GRIEF,

and THE PAIN GOD IS PERMITTED TO DIRECT,

produce a repentance

that leads and contributes to salvation

and deliverance from evil

and it never brings regret.”

 

And it finishes with…

“But worldly grief

[the hopeless sorrow that is characteristic of the pagan world]

is deadly

[breeding and ending in death].”

 

I have found this verse so helpful; so revelatory. It has come to inform my overall perspective on the grieving process. The way through grief that leads to LIFE in it’s end result is to PERMIT GOD TO DIRECT YOUR PAIN. This assumes a relationship with Him – which can be found, or deepened through any honest wrestle with loss. When God is given permission to direct our pain, it will produce LIFE instead of DEATH. It will produce REPENTANCE (a change of direction, a turning at heart – toward God, not away from Him). The process will lead and contribute to your salvation (your relationship with God in which your saving faith is strengthened and deepened in it’s final outcome) as well as deliverance from evil (permitting God to direct your pain will deliver you from all the schemes of the enemy that we most easily fall into when we are vulnerable and confused in our pain). And the ultimate promise here is SO VERY ENCOURAGING – in the end… pain processed well (with God directing)… will never lead to or leave us in REGRET. This means to me that it is possible to get all the way through the process, with an end result of great gain.  Our deepened understanding and experience through personal sorrow will make us MORE, not LESS. That is the most precious promise for anyone in grief. We desire, most deeply, for some gain from all our pain. We wrestle through the meaninglessness of our losses – the deep WHYS in our soul… and come to our own personal ‘this is what my sorrow has wrought’ that is GOOD. Our own life journey has found a pathway that has created GOOD from bad, as we have partnered with THE REDEEMER Who alone can produce this.

So give Him permission,

dear grievers.

Simply pray:

“God, I give you permission

to direct my pain.

Show me the paths of life;

lead me through.”

 

 

JOB’S STORY

“There is a secret medicine

given only to those who hurt so hard

they cannot hope.

The hopers would feel slighted

if they knew.”

~ Rumi

 

We love to turn to Job’s story (in the Bible) in the depths of our own grief, because honestly, few of us have suffered as deeply as him. So ‘how he made it through’ in a Godly way, that ended well, is meaningful for most of us. The thief did his very best to kill, steal and destroy – and a righteous man still prevailed! In the end result, Job was EVEN MORE BLESSED than before. THIS is what we can hope for when we have experienced great and senseless loss in our souls.

 

Job, whom only grievers become best acquainted with, says it profoundly:

Job 23:9

“I seek Him

but I cannot behold Him.”

[This is so true, especially in our early journey through sorrow.]

Job 23:10,11,14

“BUT He knows the way that I take

[He has concern for it, appreciates, and pays attention to it].

When He has tried me,

I shall come forth as refined gold [pure and luminous].

My foot has held fast to His steps;

His ways have I kept

and not turned aside.

For He performs [that which he has] planned for me,

and of many such matters He is mindful. “

 

Job 19: 25,27

“For I know that my Redeemer and Vindicator lives…

Whom I, even I, shall see for myself

and on my side!

And my eyes shall behold Him

and not as a stranger!”

 

And in the end of his grief journey:

Job 42:5 (42, again)

“I had heard of You [only]

by the hearing of the ear,

BUT NOW

my [spiritual] eye SEES YOU.”

 

Job had reached Zion – a face to face relationship with His God. And He had gained some irrevocable personal knowledge of God’s faithfulness in his own life:

Job 42:2

“I KNOW that You can do all things,

and that no thought or purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”

 

His TEST became a TESTIMONY. His STORY became an essential recording in HIS-STORY. His sorrow and pilgrimage through the deep Valley of Baca became deep pools of blessing for millions of believers to follow – right up until today – right up to YOU and ME in all we go through.

God, make it so in my life,

in the life of my loved ones.

Through our deepest losses

may we find repentance,

salvation and deliverance

that leads us to YOUR PRESENCE

and SECURES us there

forever.

 

Dearest grievers,

May the One Who sees each sparrow fall

and counts even the number of hairs on your heads

be very near

and heal

your broken hearts.

[Matthew 10:29; Psalm 34:18]

 

As you choose submission in your affliction,

may God allure you out of the mouth of distress

into a broad place

where there is no situation of perplexity or privation,

and may that which is set upon your table

be full of fatness.

INDEED.

[from Job 36:16]

 

Awakened to SEE

We are preparing for our next Awake & Arise Conference in Bellingham, October 28-30, and I’m freshly inspired by Zechariah 4.  Read on…. it’s relevant for us all!!

PART 1, on Zechariah 4.

Awakened – to SEE

“The angel… AWAKENED me, like a man who is awakened out of his sleep”… “And said to me, “WHAT DO YOU SEE??””

Always, we need first to be awakened – awakened, in order TO SEE. What does this mean? It means we are blind.

Since the fall, in Eden,  this has been true – “the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” (Genesis 3:7)

The first Adam, and his woman, ‘fell’ from ‘glory.’ (Romans 3:22) Before this fall, they were ‘crowned with ‘glory’ (Psalm 8:5) – meaning we were originally ‘surrounded, covered, clothed’ with the Presence of God. Specifically, with His ‘Spirit of Glory’ (I Peter 4:14). She (a secret all Biblical scholars know is that the original word for Spirit was gender specific and that gender was feminine – but that is another topic for another time)is said, in other places in scripture to be ‘covered with eyes.’

The point is, before we ‘fell into sin’, and lost our ‘covering of glory’- we could SEE in a different way. We had fully functioning SPIRITUAL SIGHT. We had DIFFERENT EYES. At the moment the enemy succeeded in stripping you and me, in Adam & Eve, of ‘our original glory,’ our SEEING CHANGED. The scriptures simply say, “Their eyes were opened.” This was the introduction of ‘NATURAL SIGHT,’  to humanity, which is now, well, so natural (to us all)!

And what did they first, then, SEE??? Hmmmmmm….. “they ‘knew’ that they were naked!” How profound. In one fell swoop, the first man and woman lost their spiritual sight – by which they saw an entirely different reality – and now they ‘knew’ something very different about themselves. Their eyes were geared toward a different way of seeing, feeling and knowing – toward their own natural deficiencies. They were bereft of the “eyes of faith” which revealed to them, no matter what was ‘true’ in the natural realm – what was ‘TRUE’ in the spiritual, or supernatural realm. They’d LOST THEIR SIGHT. The eyes of faith, granted us originally, were replaced by natural ‘SIGHT.’

This is why, in Luke 4:18, as Jesus begins His public ministry, He quotes Isaiah 61 as His mission statement. He says, in essence,This is why I came!: “He has sent me to bind up and heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim LIBERTY to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the OPENING OF THE PRISON AND OF THE EYES TO THOSE WHO ARE BOUND.” Whaaaaaaat???? Yep, there it is. Our eyes have been BOUND. Since the fall, this is our PRISON. Our ability to SEE has been BOUND BY NATURAL SIGHT. We were stripped of our EYES OF FAITH. And that is not ‘natural’ at all. Our original and natural state, is to SEE WITH THE EYES OF FAITH. To have SPIRITUAL SIGHT.  [Does this begin to make sense of your struggle in life, your struggle with God, and your struggle with spiritual things?]

So back to our original text, and what Zechariah is experiencing as told in Zechariah 4… [This matters to me because this is the substance and the whole point of the ministry called ‘Awake & Arise.’]

At first – we must be, as he, AWAKENED – to SEE. To recover our natural , or original, ‘EYES OF FAITH.’ Without this, we are blind.

“For the god of this world has ‘blinded the unbeliever’s mind, preventing them from seeing… Yes, down to this very day, a veil lies upon their minds and hearts… but whenever… the veil is stripped off and taken away, all of us with unveiled face… behold (once again) the glory of the Lord… and are transfigured continually… into one degree of glory after another.” [II Corinthians 4:4; II Corinthians 3:15-16 & 18]

Zechariah shares what he ‘sees’ and then asks the proverbial question, that so often follows, when we ‘see with spiritual eyes’: “What???” Ha ha ha!!! Isn’t that the truth?

Zechariah ‘saw’ and could even explain what he was ‘seeing’… but his next question was, “WHAT AM I SEEING?? WHAT IS IT???” [Because we are not used to seeing what is not natural, and it doesn’t make sense to our natural mind.] (I Corinthians 2:14)

I teach people to ‘see’ all the time in my counseling office. As they share their struggles, I lead them into prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to ‘HELP!’ 🙂 And (S)He always does. Most often, in the atmosphere of faith they have been invited into, in my office (‘my realm’), they do see. Or hear, or sense, or know. But it is almost always followed up with the same question, “What am I seeing?” Or “What does it mean??” THIS is the process of developing our spiritual sight! Often we ‘see’ in a moment, but when we don’t understand what it means, we immediately reject what we saw! Because it is ‘foolishness’ to our natural minds! This is because, since the fall, we believe in natural sight more than we do in spiritual sight!

In Hebrew,”What is it?” translates into one word in a story many of us know… “manna.” “What is it” fed the Israelites, day after day, for FOURTY YEARS in the wild.

God was restoring to them the ability to ‘SEE BY FAITH’  instead of “BY SIGHT.” After years – generations – of disillusionment while they were (physically and spiritually) held captive – in slavery to the Egyptian gods, they’d ‘lost their sight.’ ‘Their eyes were opened,’ as Adam & Eves’, to the ‘reality’ of abuse and the disappointment of things in this world not turning out the way they’d originally hoped and dreamed they would, or should. They no longer ‘believed’ and they KNEW for SURE that they were ‘NAKED’ (without what they needed, in their natural state). It is so profound, to me, that God led them to restoration day after day by meeting their most basic natural needs – food – in a supernatural way. We are told in Deuteronomy 8 (verses 2 – 3) the reason for our ‘wilderness journeys’ in which we learn things no other paths seem to teach us:

“And you shall [earnestly] remember all the way which the Lord Your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and to prove you, to know what was in your [mind and] heart, whether you would keep His commandment or not. And He HUMBLED you and allowed you to HUNGER … (so that He could)… feed you with manna (“What is it??”), which you did not know nor did Your fathers know… (and here’s the reason): THAT             HE MIGHT MAKE YOU RECOGNIZE AND PERSONALLY KNOW THAT MAN DOES NOT LIVE BY BREAD ONLY (the natural), BUT MAN LIVES BY EVERY WORD (spiritual, supernatural) THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF THE LORD.”

THIS is the necessary preparation for each of us, by God, so that He can (verse 7) “bring us into the LAND OF GOOD, the LAND OF PROMISE that He has for us and wants to bring us into. [Go read verses 7-10 for yourself. It’s a pretty darn GOOD land!!!!]

Basically, in all our lives, following Christ introduces us into the personal but universal ‘journey of faith.’ It is the process in which we are each HUMBLED and made HUNGRY for what we DO NOT  KNOW (naturally). And for each of us – we cannot find the answers we need by relying on the our parent’s generation, either, no matter how profound their faith revelations may have been. (Because Gods’ revelation is progressive). This is an individual journey, called ‘the pilgrimage of the heart’ (Psalm 84) that we receive a personal invitation from God, into. We could call it the “What is it?????  journey.” [????? = insert favorite swear word here! :)]

SO TAKE HEART! If you find yourself presently BAFFLED, feeling like you’ve LOST YOUR WAY, and DON’T SEE OR KNOW anyone wise enough to lead you forward; where your best natural sight fails….. KNOW THIS. THE TRUTH IS – you are NOT ‘NAKED!’ You are ON THEE JOURNEY you were intended to be on! There is a BEAUTIFUL, DESIRE-FULFILLING LAND awaiting you, with a ROBE of FAVOR held by very large, benevolent hands WITH YOUR NAME ON IT.

This ‘particular course of the race set before you’ will be WON, by keeping your EYES (OF FAITH!!!) ON JESUS – Author and finisher of your and my faith story (Hebrews 12:1-2). And like Peter, as you SEE what other’s do not see, your feet will not fail no matter how impossible is the ground (or colliding seas) you are presently attempting to walk upon. (Matthew 14:28-31, Matthew 16:16).

He is AWAKENING you – to SEE.

[Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it!] 🙂

What are You Expecting?

I watched it happen when he was only 18 months old. I wondered… how could one so little experience a sense of SHAME like that??!!

I am a grand mother. And a grandmother (smile). At present I have 5 beloved grand-children. My oldest, Hudson, is now 5 years old. (“FIVE AND A HALF!” he would say.) One day, when he was 18 months old, and I was babysitting, we decided to go to my parents for a spontaneous visit. As soon as I made that suggestion, his eyes got big and shiny, and he said “BIG TRUCK!!” Apparently, my folks had a particular large toy vehicle in their basement, that at this moment was thee apple of Hudson’s eye. It was only a 3 minute drive in those days to my parent’s home, so we jumped in the car and went.

Hudson, unstrapped from his car seat, hopped out of the car, large-chested and full of anticipation. He RAN for their door! When he was just about to the door, it opened, and my mom and dad walked out, coats on, ready to get into their own car. In a few seconds they said hello AND informed us they were leaving for an appointment and were sorry they wouldn’t be able to visit. Hudson halted in his tracks. He was stunned. His shoulders sagged, his chest deflated, and I watched him turn around in bewilderment, not knowing how to handle his overwhelming disappointment. He staggered backward, turned around, lip quivering, and darted past me to go HIDE, head down, at the front of my car. I recognized he was embarrassed, and was stunned to realize he felt “disappointed and put to SHAME.” I didn’t know a child this young could feel shame so intensely!! I did my best to meet his little heart, but pondered this moment for a long time.

I asked the question in my last blog, “Where has childhood WONDER gone??” And answered, “After life serves up many disappointments, small and large, with a few (or many) traumas thrown in…. we become hardened. Our wounds make us cynical. Unbelieving. No longer open, soft or EXPECTING GOOD to come our way.” I have met so many adults that put it this way, “I told myself not to expect too much, so I wouldn’t be disappointed.”

Hence the relevant question: WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING? (Or, what has your battered heart come to expect out of life??)

Women have a unique ability to grasp this concept of EXPECTING. We are designed for it – even physically! In fact, women are (in my opinion) the most amazing creatures!! Think about it…. Give a woman a house – she’ll make a home. Give a woman some food – she’ll make a meal. Give a woman a seed – she’ll grow a child. As women – we naturally nurture and bring things to life – spiritually, emotionally and physically. Adam called his wife’s name EVE (= “LIFE SPRING”), BECAUSE SHE WAS THE MOTHER OF ALL THE LIVING.” (Gen. 3:20) As women, we are Gods’ womb in the earth! We are always ‘EXPECTING.’

But MEN, you are not excluded here! In Luke 1, when aunt Elizabeth meets pregnant Mary, she exclaims, “The FRUIT OF YOUR WOMB is destined to bring God great delight!” This is the same word used for THE FRUIT OF THE TREE OF LIFE in Revelations 22:2, where it speaks of the tree of life that grows on either side of the sparkling river that flows from God’s throne… yielding fresh fruit each month of the year. And Psalm 1:3 tells us ALL that we are made to become that tree: “HE IS LIKE A TREE, planted by streams of water that yields it’s fruit in it’s season, and it’s leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Cross gender, we are called to make ‘the living expression’ of God, ‘visible’ by ‘birthing it’ in the earth. [The Passion translation for ‘The Word of God,’ become ‘flesh.’]

As ‘a womb’ or a ‘tree,’ then, we produce something living from the seeds of whatever we’ve been intimate with. From the seedlings of all our life experiences, we have each formed EXPECTATIONS that have developed a life of their own within our SOULS. Whatever our personal life stories have caused us to EXPECT… we will quite naturally carry to full term and bring into being. THUS we, often unconsciously, nourish and produce whatever outcomes we are EXPECTING. [Whether they are positive or negative!]

In summary:
– Our life experiences conceive our expectations.
– We will grow whatever we conceive.
– We will nurture whatever we carry.
– We will bring forth whatever we’ve nurtured.

So to ask the question, “WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING?” Is to ask:
“What are you ‘bringing to life?” OR
“What is your life-giving nature producing?”
The answer to these questions, has A LOT to do with our EXPECTATIONS.

Definition please….. (This will take us deeper)!

EXPECTATION: L. ex “out”, and spectate “to look” = your ‘OUT LOOK’ on life!
1. to wait for
2 to look for, as likely to occur or appear; to anticipate
3. to look for as due, proper, or necessary (probable)
4. to be ‘expecting’ is to be ‘pregnant’ with
5. An expecting or looking forward to an event as ‘about to happen;’ the state of ‘being awaited.’

synonyms: anticipate, await, forecast, forebode, rely on, look for, foresee.

Your ‘OUT LOOK’ is your ‘EXPECTATION’ and determines what your ‘soul’ is ‘looking for, awaiting, expecting in life.

Another synonym is… HOPE.
But what current cultural definitions say about HOPE vs. EXPECTATION is relevant:
“HOPE originates in DESIRE, and may exist with little or no cause for believing that the desired event will arrive…. (Hope looks forward to some good).”
Whereas…
“EXPECTATION is founded on some REASONS which RENDER this event PROBABLE (Expectation looks forward to good or evil).”
(Some ‘reason’ renders a belief in what is probable for my life).

Here’s the issue:
When our ‘expectations’ are divorced from what we ‘hope for’ – we will have a schism within, and will actually draw to our lives what we EXPECT, rather than what we hope for. Usually we do not realize our expectation is different than what we hope for! When this is the case – we need to CHANGE OUR EXPECTATIONS – in order to draw to our life the good things we hope for!

• This ‘schism’ is usually between what our ‘head’ believes and our heart ‘knows.’
• “The heart has it’s reasons that reason knows nothing of.”
• Scripture tells us that our life springs forth from all that is lodged in our HEART, not our head. (Prov. 4:23)
• The HEART is the center of all life – body, soul & spirit life.

So again(back to our original question) – WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING??? What is your OUT LOOK on life and what is it based upon?

HOW WE ‘SEE’ is a big, big deal. How we see can imprison us! When Jesus first began speaking publicly, he opened a Bible to Isaiah 61 and said, “This is why I’ve come:” [Salvation means] “to open the prison AND THE EYES of those who are bound!” Negative expectations can put us in bondage, binding us to negative outcomes. OUR OUTLOOK WILL BECOME OUR OUTCOME!

More, later… unpacking this will take a few more blogs.

For now, here are some exercises to help you make this personal:
1) List 10 things that you are HOPING FOR………

2) Consider whether you have any NEGATIVE EXPECTATIONS which cause you to DOUBT whether you will receive what you HOPE for?

3) Ask yourself: Where do these negative expectations come from? (Some ‘reason’ renders a belief in what is probable, or not, for my life.)

4) Start praying Psalm 25:1-3: “Unto YOU, O Lord, do I bring my life. O my God, I trust, lean on, rely on, and am confident in You. Let me not be put to shame or [my hope in you] be disappointed; let not my enemies triumph over me. Yes, let none who trust and wait hopefully and look for You be put to shame or be disappointed.” [Amp]

5) Ask God to change your negative expectations, and heal the wounds behind them. Right here, ADD SOME CURIOSITY to your DOUBT that your hopes could be fully realized…and let the restoration of WONDER begin!

[See my last post on “WONDER”]

WONDER

Graham Cooke, one of my favorite founts of profound inspiration, says this about WONDER:

“Being a great father is high on God’s agenda. He longs to father us into deeper places in the Spirit. We can partner with God in this process of fatherhood, by becoming child-like. In fact, becoming child-like is the only way we can grow in Christian maturity!

Being childlike isn’t a matter of regressing into a lower place in the natural. It’s actually about advancing into a greater place of life in the Spirit. Our innocence and purity must be recovered for us to live as children in the Father’s house. The Kingdom of God belongs to those who can develop and maintain A CHILD-LIKE SENSE OF WONDER!”
(“Living in Dependency and Wonder; The Journey of Discovering the Depths of God’s Love For You”)

Remember “The Shack?!” (You don’t?? READ. IT.) Wm. Paul Young has written 2 more books (“Cross Roads” and “Eve”) – but none (in my opinion) as life-changing as his debut. (Though they are great reads!) In his latest book called “Eve” he speaks of God’s arch-enemy, the devil, formerly being one of heaven’s greats – a Cherubim, like Michael and Gabriel, who surround God’s throne. He makes a little statement that got me pondering: Lucifer (satan’s former name) was in charge of ‘worship and AWE.’ The Cherubim, who surround God’s very throne cry, over-whelmed, over and over “HOLY!!!” because God is SO AWESOME. Hmmmmmmmmmm. Our enemy whose M.O. is to steal, kill and destroy… HATES AWE!!! Which is another word for WONDER. Of course he does. He is green with envy for the constant sense of awe and wonder that he has lost through his rebellion. Why else would he so be out to destroy it in our lives!?! Especially in children’s lives!

A sense of WONDER lives in every child. It’s why we like to be around them so much. (And if you don’t, you’ve lost your ‘wonder’ for SURE.) Let a little child play and express in the middle of a room of adults – and every last one of them will stare at him or her like the flames of a campfire. We are ‘mesmerized’ by child-like wonder. Innocence. Purity. Open-hearted vulnerability. Wide-eyed fully-present engagement with life as an adventure to be experienced.

Whats happened to our WONDER?

Some years ago, I was leading a small group of women through a study of John Eldrege’s book, “THE SACRED ROMANCE.” (A very good read as well!) I remember John bringing up the subject of childhood WONDER…. calling our experience of it “a wooing to a great romance.” As an exercise, he asked us to write out one of our favorite childhood memories… with as much sight, sound, smell and emotion as we could – recapturing as much ‘color’ to our stories as possible (to get in touch with that great ‘wooing’).

My first story was about Christmas. How I loved all the ‘specialness’, ‘celebration, and sparkle! [Still do!!!] The tinsel, the soaring Beverly Shea recording of “What child is this?” (Ha!) and… the PRESENTS. I used to lay on the living room carpet, under our Christmas tree, with the most exquisite feelings .. just staring at the presents, some WITH MY NAME ON THEM! That feeling was WONDER. It was MAGICAL. HEART-IN-MY-EYES EXPECTANTCY. My wise father used to come and join me – adding to my sense of AWE – by laying on his stomach next to me and exclaiming, ‘ I WONDER what’s in there……????’

CHILD-LIKE WONDER. Where did it go?

After life serves up many disappointments, small and large, with a few (or many) traumas thrown in…. we become hardened. Our wounds make us cynical. Unbelieving. No longer open, soft or expecting good. Few of us seem to sustain this all important sense of AWE about life. It is thought of by the sophisticated and logical as naive. Stupid. And many of us feel shame in adult moments when wonder visits us. A perfect picture of this is in one of my favorite disney movies, “THE KID.” Girl friend (Lily Tomlin) is exclaiming about the breathtaking beauty of the moon one eve, and jerk boyfriend (Bruce Willis) responds with cutting cynicism, trying to make her feel really stupid for being so open, child-like, and full of WONDER.

OKAY… I can’t wait to tell you! Wonder has a MOST CURIOUS definition! Literally. Ready? WONDER = DOUBT + CURIOSITY. Think about it.

To be ‘in doubt’ means to be in awe. To feel incredulous. To exclaim, “I can’t believe it!” “Wow, how can this be??” Apparently, every time we experience that kind of moment, we have an opportunity to move towards more WONDER. IF we choose wisely. Whenever we find ourselves doubting, we can make one of two choices…. harden our hearts and move toward cynical unbelief … or open our hearts and choose to be CURIOUS…. I WONDER….. which leads to a totally different outcome. (Run and find your Bible and read Acts 2:12-13 for a vivid example of these two choices, in response to the Holy Spirit’s fresh out-pouring!)

Amazingly, the Greek word for wonder is ‘mopheth’ pronounced ‘mo-faith.’ When we add curiosity to doubt, WONDER leads us to MORE FAITH. Every time.

I WONDER…… Is this what God was restoring to His Israelite children, by serving them up some ‘WHAT IS IT??!!” (manna) every day of their wilderness wander? Maybe because only ‘wonder’ could reverse 400 years of slavery-damage to their expectations?…and possibly prepare them to enter and live in trust and wonder in their Land of Promise?

This is one of our first lessons on Wonder. Why it matters to God. To us. I want to leave you pondering. Wondering…

Will you write out one of your own stories? Think about what it felt like? Ask yourself where that feeling went? And why? And when you find yourself in any moment of ‘doubt’ at present…. make a choice to ADD CURIOSITY? I WONDER….. where could this lead me? What will I find? What could I learn? Is there something You want to show me, Daddy? Here?

Simple stuff opens the door… and we are on our way to recovering our innocence and purity; to living as children in our heavenly Father’s house. The Kingdom of God belongs to those who can develop and maintain A CHILD-LIKE SENSE OF WONDER!”

God bless your WONDERING…. and come back soon for more.

Janet out.

January 1, 2016

EMBRACING (the WONDER of) LIFE.

HAPPY. NEW. YEAR. (!!!)

John Lennon said, this: “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are in fear, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. All hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who EMBRACE LIFE!”

This quote hangs on my Naturopath’s desk.

I like it. A lot.

It embodies much of what I have come to believe, through experience.

After one of the most wonderful New Year’s celebrations I can remember, last night – with friends who are truly amazing, real, fun, life-giving persons – I am ready to EMBRACE LIFE, ANEW. Good thing, for it’s a NEW YEAR!

Welcome, New Year! New Season! Fresh opportunity!

Today I am thinking about LEAVING THE OLD BEHIND, as well as EMBRACING THE NEW.  I’ve given myself some scheduled free time to move into this New Year, un-rushed…. thoughtful. I am pondering how I’ve lived out this past year, and what I want to change. Giving The Spirit space within to remind, reveal and whisper fresh thoughts at the crossing of an important threshold in time.

I’m feeling especially called to LETTING GO of last years left-overs, during the first several days of this year. I know LEAVING WELL matters for BEGINNING WELL. Instead of pressuring myself, and feeling condemnation for not being ‘ready-to-start-all-things-new’ on THE day the calendar turns, I’m allowing myself to begin this year by asking the question: WHAT DO I WANT TO PUT BEHND ME??

For starts, I’m deciding to DREAM SMALLER rather than DREAM BIGGER. Maybe not forever, but for now. This is what I mean: I want to engage in short term immediate goals, over and over, rather than huge over-arching ‘what-I”m-going-to-do-all-year-and-for-the-rest-of-my-life’  kind of goals. I’ve realized those don’t work for me. I’m not that disciplined. I’m more a ‘go-with-the-flow, live-by -the-seat-of-your-pants’ kind of gal – and I usually need to ‘feel it’ to accomplish it. I’d like to learn more about living ‘the un-forced rhythms of grace’ that Eugene Peterson talks about in The Message  (Matthew 11).

SO, these are my first short-term goals:

1) For the first 10 DAYS of 2016 I am going to ‘JUICE.’ Only. It’s called a ‘BODY REBOOT.’ And it makes my body, literally, SING. (I want to do this once every ‘quarter’ of this year.)

2) For the first MONTH of this year – I am going on a SPENDING FAST. I need it, to catch up after the holidays. I’ve found it an excellent way not only to save, but take a break from the decision making involved in buying, that sometimes ties me in knots. Unless it is absolutely necessary – for 1 month – the answer is NO. SIGH (of relief)……:).

I’ve done both of those before. Here is my REALLY brave one…

3) Though I have been known (by those who know me well) to keep my house decorated in ‘Christmas sparkle’ till Valentines Day… (I know…..!)… I am committing  publicly to putting Christmas AWAY during these first 10 DAYS of 2016. It’s TIME FOR THE NEW. I just don’t’ want to drag the old along with me any more…………..! It’s been a glorious holiday season! Treasured memories were made, and live on in my heart. I was as fully present for each event as I knew how….. and I want to be just as fully present to the NEW NOW, every day. I want to EMBRACE LIFE, and LIVE each NEW TODAY as it comes, for all it’s worth…. not re-live yesterday’s left-overs, no matter how glorious, or difficult!

And those are my main ones, folks! Not really very deep, or spiritual, or emotional, which is where I am usually focused. I want to CHANGE IT UP, a little. Embrace the new…… Like I did last night, out to dinner with my amazing friends: I had a plan, right up until the waitress asked me what I wanted – at the last second I pointed to something completely different, un-pre-meditated, and said I’ll take the pheasant. It was…. alright. Not what I would normally love. But I LOVED the fact that I was brave enough to try something DIFFERENT & NEW. It ended the old year… and ushered in the new… in a perfectly prophetic way for ME.

I’m inspired to EMBRACE LIFE, with all of it’s surprising turns, every day, in this NEW YEAR.

Want to come along for the ride??

I Wonder

MY WORDS for 2016 are…

WONDER, WISDOM, and WELL-BEING.

 

What are yours???

 

Check out my new BLOG, called “I WONDER…”

 

COME, WONDER with me… in this NEW YEAR …

For “Not all those who WONDER, are lost.” 🙂

 

In fact, did you know that …

EXPECTATIONS INFORMED BY WONDER

ARE THE WAY TO LIVING EVERY DAY

WITH AN OPEN HEART??

 

That’s what my opening BLOG POST is about.

 

I think you will ENJOY IT.

 

HAPPIEST NEW YEAR TO YOU!!!!

 

TRUTH BE TOLD

I admit it. I’ve been a HOARDER. Not necessarily the kind that word usually conjures up…. but another kind. I’ve been writing for YEARS. EVERY DAY. It’s one of my very favorite past times. And my intentions have been to share – they really have – but the insights I’ve consistently gained through my private journaling – are, well, often just that – PRIVATE. And I kind of like it that way. I’m really fine with gathering TREASURES in SECRET, as I meet daily, in morning solitude, with my own soul and it’s Maker. But I am quite sure I am being asked, NOW, to start GIVING AWAY my treasures. SO I will. One by one… as they come and I feel led.

I start every day with pen in hand  (and my cinnamon/pumpkin spiced coffee in the other) and fill the pages of each of my carefully picked journals about every 6 weeks. (Some might say I’m ‘verbose.’) Never the less… I am making a NEW YEAR’S COMMITMENT to you. Whoever you are, who may be reading these words. And that is a SCARY thing for me to do. Because I believe in the power of words, and the saying “My WORD is my HONOR.” I have not performed that perfectly throughout my life – but it is a strong value of mine. So it’s no casual comment for me to commit to you a REGULAR BLOG. I am saying REGULAR as a sort of buffer – to give me room to fail, if that is fair. And by ‘regular’ I mean AT LEAST once a month. But hopefully once a week. So you may hold me to that and return here often for INSPIRATION.

INSPIRATION ABOUT WHAT??  Well….. WONDER, for starts. And WISDOM (one of my favorite topics – and Persons – but more on that later)…. and WELL-BEING.

I like my chosen name: “I WONDER…” It was inspired by a recent invitation to a winery way up in B.C. where two women, Marg & Tersia, have it in heart to inspire and reveal the BEAUTY and WORTH of WOMEN in their region. Boy did we have a BLAST doing just that. I hope you will be INSPIRED to know your own INCREDIBLE WORTH – male or female that you are – as you partake of WONDER with me this YEAR.

Truth be told…. I also like the name ‘I WONDER…” because it gives me, as a BLOGGER, a lot of FREEDOM …. to go all over the place. I get bored easily with repetition – which works out WELL for me in some aspects of life – and not so well in others…. I’ll leave that to your imagination. 🙂 BUT, I do expect to take you, my reader, ALL OVER THE PLACE as I share my thoughts in writing through the year. Just like my private times, with pen, every morning….. I am freshly inspired often by all sorts of things – spiritual, emotional and physical. So EXPECT the UNEXPECTED, here. I may surprise you, and myself, by staying with a theme for a time…. and then suddenly write about something completely different – even odd. So please bare with me, folks…. and ENJOY THE RIDE.

For it is true: NOT ALL THOSE WHO WONDER are lost.

Well what do you know… I filled up 2 1/2 pages with an INTRODUCTION. I promise my NEXT blog will be about “EXPECTATIONS, INFORMED BY WONDER, ARE THE WAY TO LIVE EVERY DAY WITH AN OPEN HEART!”

See you again, very soon. 🙂

Filled with WONDER,

Janet VGRobinson

Today

Again, He sets A DEFINITE DAY – A NEW TODAY – and gives another opportunity of securing REST… and this is how: TODAY (if you would) HEAR HIS VOICE and DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEART. (Hebrews 4:7)

On this holy morning
my heart & ears & eyes are OPEN –
as open as I know how –
TO YOU.

As YOUR DESIRE
comes to meet my open self
it is, of course,
‘intercourse’ with YOU.

THE WORD – You, Yourself,
entering into me
is ‘seed’ meant to implant
in soft, rich soil of womb
to hold & keep & incubate
and in time…
with GREAT EXPECTATION,
FERTILE FAITH,
bring forth fruit of NEW LIFE
in the earth.

Evidence of
YOUR REALM breaking into mine
heaven come to earth,
producing children –
beautiful fruit –
that looks just like You;

Bringing glory to You, Father
giver of every good gift
producing everything LIVING
by Your GLORIOUS DESIRE.

How to Handle Grief on a Daily Basis

I remember one day walking into a fellow counselor’s office and he asked me how I was doing. I considered him a sincere, safe man, so I answered completely honestly. “I’m feeling very lonely today.” His response took me by surprise, and I have never forgotten it. “Sounds like your loneliness needs a hug,” he said. I realized this was the very opposite of the posture I had taken toward my emotions that day – I was trying to NOT feel, NOT acknowledge, and NOT ‘go there.’ I took his advise, and turned TOWARD my lonely feelings, accepted and embraced them as mine and as ‘OK’ and normal… and I soon felt better.

I experienced a similar dynamic when my children were young. I’d be busy cooking dinner or washing dishes in the kitchen, and it seemed invariably these would be the times one of them would want my full attention. “Mom, mom, mom…. moooooooom!” I learned over time, that if I ignored and kept trying to ‘put them off’ and keep about my business, they’d not give up and not be satisfied. I came to realize that if I stopped what I was doing, got down on my knees at eye level, made eye contact, and gave my heart to whatever they were needing for just a few moments…. they’d feel ‘met’ and usually be able to go on their way to another task. And so could I.

In dealing with the pain of grief on a daily basis, the principles are similarly simple:

When different feelings come up, it is important to:

  1. Acknowledge them (accepting instead of ignoring our various emotions).
  2. Give attention to them (instead of pushing them away).
  3. Name the feeling as best you can (develop your emotional vocabulary).
  4. Speak warmly, understandingly to your self about what you feel.

This is the essence of HONORING YOUR HEART.

This is SELF RESPECT; treating yourself as you would like to be treated by others.

This is AGREEING WITH JESUS, and how He would treat your emotions.

ACCEPTANCE IS KEY all the way through the process of grieving, not just it’s end goal.

And remember…

THE ONLY WAY THROUGH GRIEF ……… IS TO GRIEVE.

~ by Janet Robinson