One Word 2015

One word.

Safe - Blueandgreentogether.com

I spent the last year reading a Psalm and Proverb pretty much every day.  (P.S. This was one of many Bible reading plans you can get on with the YouVersion app–highly recommended!) That’s 12 times through the book of Proverbs.  Every day there would be new truths and surprises, as if I had never read them before.  However, one verse often caught my attention:

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

Here is another Proverb my husband often quotes to me (in a kind way, of course!):

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. (Proverbs 29:25)

Finally, we just started with Heart of Dakota curriculum in our home school.  The kid’s verse to memorize this week just happens to be this one:

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)

I admit it, this last verse is where I need the most help.  Often you will find me awake in the wee hours, worrying about my family’s safety.  I’m the queen of finding worse case scenarios.  That’s why my word for 2015 is safe.  It’s a reminder to myself that with the God the Father’s protection, we are always safe.  His Word says it.  It’s true. It’s true even when things happen don’t feel safe.  (Think about the situations David was often in when he wrote the Psalms—fleeing for his life.) Time to put my faith in action and believe.  Incidentally, believe was my 2nd choice for one word 2015.

Wouldn’t it be nice to sleep better?  That’s my hope for 2015.

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Come to God

Come to God, then, my brother, my sister, with all thy desires and instincts, all thy lofty ideals, all thy longing for purity and unselfishness, all thy yearning to love and be true, all thy aspiration after self-forgetfulness and child-life in the breath of the Father; come to him with all thy weaknesses, all thy shames, all thy futilities; with all thy helplessness over thy own thoughts; with all thy failure, yea, with the sick sense of having missed the tide of true affairs; come to him with all thy doubts, fears, dishonesties, meannesses, paltrinesses, misjudgments, wearinesses, disappointments, and stalenesses: be sure he will take thee and all thy miserable brood, whether of draggle-winged angels, or covert-seeking snakes, into his care, the angels for life, the snakes for death, and thee for liberty in his limitless heart! For he is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

-George MacDonald

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I was going through a file and found the above quote from a sermon of George MacDonald.  It was something I hand-wrote, word for word several years ago, but don’t remember my source at the time.  Thanks to Google, I found the entire sermon written out, so if you like, you can see the context here

My heroes

A hero – The classic idea of a man who gallantly rescues a damsel in distress.

In some way or form, all of these men have been heroes in my life:

Heroes I’ve met:

  • My husband. With his calm, quiet ways, taking on this crazy, up and down, enthusiastic and sometimes troubled wife, working all day and coming home to help with the dishes at night. He always prays with and for me.
  • My dad. Hard working and STRONG. He has had some physical struggles the past few years, but is still that strong dad– and always will be in my mind. I think of His fortitude and dedication to his faith, my mom and the farm.  Perhaps the only person I know as stubborn as myself. (Well, maybe brother Fred, too?)
  • My Grandpa B. Another super strong man but with the greatest personality and so generous. He will get his own blog post some day, but it’s hard for me to think or write about him without a few tears, because I still miss him.
  • Steve Schlissel. I first heard him speak when attending “Concerned Members of the Christian Reformed Church” meetings. He spoke up bravely in the middle of a dark time in the CRC. I spent a couple of weeks visiting with him and his family in Brooklyn when fresh out of high school.  The experience opened up my world and changed my life.
  • Uncle Dave B. He faced cancer with courage and faith. He lost the battle at age 39, but won the victory. He comforted others (including myself) in his last days. “The Lord is my Shepherd…”
  • My brothers. When it all boils down, they are there for me. They have rescued me off the side of the road  with car trouble at one time or another, and helped me financially when I was going through the divorce. My former childhood arch rivals.
  • My friend Greg. Greg was a hero to me after my divorce. He was kind to me and brought me back to the  gospel and who I was in Christ. He kept insisting I attend his single’s group, where I met other guy hero friends and eventually met my husband. Also a former arch rival.
By chanter Angelos Akotandos (1400 - 1457)

St. George the Dragon Slayer by chanter Angelos Akotandos (1400 – 1457)

Heroes I haven’t met (yet):

Three of my great-grandfathers. They made the brave choice to leave their home country in the Netherlands and travelled by ship to the United States in search of freedom and opportunity.  I met one of my great-grandfather-heroes and remember visiting him as a child, but the other three died before I was born.

C.S. Lewis, my author hero.

St. George the Dragon Slayer.  His story has always intrigued me.

Heroes of the faith.  If I had to pick a few favorites out of the list they would be Abraham, Gideon and David.

Jesus.  My ultimate Hero of all heroes.

In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. -Psalm 18:6 (ESV)

If you don’t know Jesus, here is a good place to start:  The good news

 Note: Don’t think I am neglecting my heroines!  I am currently working on a couple of posts about my grandmothers, and look forward to sharing them soon.

At the loft this week: Practical Advice

The topic at The Loft this week is “Best Practical Tip”.  I hope my fellow Loft folks don’t mind, but I’m going to cop-out on writing something fresh.  In addition to this blog, I write articles at Hub Pages.  These can best be described as “practical advice for tough times.”  Here are my five top advice hubs, in order of popularity:

  1. Coping with Separation:  Surviving the First Few Days
  2. Dating after Divorce:  Why should you wait?
  3. Surviving Unemployment: A guide for the stay-at-home mom
  4. Planning Your Move on a Tight Budget
  5. Preparing for a Natural Miscarriage:  Supplies

This past week I finished another hub related to moving:

Top Ten Hints for Organizing Your Next Move

Truthfully, I hope none of these apply to any of you right now, but if they do, I hope you will find something helpful! 🙂

Some treasured every day practical advice comes from the words of a poem, often quoted by one of my favorite authors, Elisabeth Elliot:

The Loft

My Greatest Insecurity is….Insecurity (link up with The Loft)

The Loft

The Loft

Recently I joined up with The Loft after hearing about it through one of my favorite bloggers, Arabah Joy.  The topic for writing this week is “Your greatest insecurity”.

I’ve been pondering this one for a few days–trying to pick just one–and realized that insecurity itself is my greatest insecurity!  I simply want my loved ones to be safe, and I want to feel safe.  This is a basic concern for most people, but I have a particular knack for thinking of the worst case scenario in every situation, especially at night when it’s time to sleep.

Painful insecurity comes from having a marriage dissolve after eight years.   A vow I took and intended to last until death was grievously dissolved in a court room one day as if it never happened.  At that time, every aspect of life felt insecure.

Some insecurity relates to health issues and fear of accidents.   I worked as a respiratory therapist in various areas at the hospital and witnessed the effects of numerous diseases, as well witnessing injuries from accidents, violence and mishaps.  Every symptom experienced by myself or my family is a potential cause to run to Dr. Google.  Talk about finding worse case scenarios!

How about the security of living in a long term home? Since leaving my parent’s home 25 years ago at the age of 18, I haven’t lived consecutively in the same home/apartment/trailer for longer than three years.  The moving has often gone hand-in-hand with financial insecurity related to unemployment or job changes.

Natural disasters?  I’ve been in the direct path of two tornadoes.  Violence? I’ve lived within 2 blocks of a man who drove through areas that surrounded our normally peaceful neighborhood one afternoon, randomly shooting as he went to kill others intentionally.  I’ve had a person I trusted threaten to kill me and prevent me from calling for help. Wild animals? I hit a deer with my car 3 times.  No! Let me correct it for the record: The deer have hit ME!  

I’ve had one of those most dreaded phone calls one Sunday morning, hearing that a dear  friend/cousin died suddenly, unexpectedly in the heart of her mothering years.  We waited for several weeks to hear results from the autopsy report that she had a rare heart condition. Life itself is fragile, and it is shattering to lose someone my age.

Being a mom brings up all sorts of insecurity and fears for my children.  When my children were babies, I rarely slept at night, feeling I should be on alert and reassuring myself that they were breathing.  As they grow older, new fears develop. Like a Mama bear, I want to protect them, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The fears and worries about my pregnancy this spring did nothing to stop another miscarriage from happening. I have had two babies in my womb that I simply could not protect.

Last week our pastor preached from Luke 12, the classic passage where Jesus tells his disciples “Do not worry.”  I copied something pastor said in my notes:

We can’t change even the smallest things by worrying.

Confession:  In my head, I get this crazy idea that by anticipating tragedy, perhaps I can prevent it!  Worrying makes me somehow feel more secure, as if I can prevent things from happening by preparing for the worst outcome.

Can I stop another deer from crossing my path?  Can I stop another tornado from forming near my family?  Can I keep my husband safe on his drive home from work? Stop a terrorist attack?

The symptoms of post traumatic stress have affected me over the years, and I have found that counseling and medical help have been beneficial for processing events and managing physical symptoms.

However, when it boils down, the only antidotes to my every day insecurities are two things:  Prayer and thankfulness.

Philippians 4:6-7

 

Prayer

Only the hope of the gospel allows me to cry out to God for freedom from my insecurities, when I am weary of my sin.  I start to feel ashamed, and then don’t want to pray.   If I cannot come to Him to begin with, how do I place all my insecurities in His mighty hand?  How can I pour my heart out to someone that I am afraid of?   The gospel (GOOD NEWS!) reality is that He has forgiven, justified, redeemed me from any insecurity I might have that prevents me from approaching him. Approaching him humbly, confessing my sin, and bravely trusting that I am forgiven enables me to pour my insecurities and worries out to Him in prayer.  Talk about stress relief! (Praise God that we can have mustard seed faith, right?) People!  I have not mastered this yet.  I am preaching the gospel to myself.

Thanksgiving

Just a few weeks ago, Ann Voskamp (guru of gratitude) posted a blog about her daughter asking “Why is there all this loveliness?”  I’ve been pondering that thought.  Aren’t we  also commanded to think about whatever is lovely, good, pure, etc.?  My thoughts naturally tend to mull about the evil, the bad, sickness, death, sin and bad news of the day.  But how about the good? In the midst of insecurity, there is much reason to give thanks. I cannot even tell (it would take pages and pages) all the kindness, friendship, prayers, love and support I have received from the family of God, my family, and my husband.  The comfort and healing from God Himself through the Psalms soothes me without fail, whenever I seek it out.  Then there is the soothing beauty of music and Lake Michigan sunsets and falling stars. Why is there all this loveliness?   A heart focused on gratitude to God builds a fortress against insecurity.

 

 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145:17-19)