8/31/2013

Mom and Grams

I've had Mom and Grams here for the past few days but they fly home tomorrow. I am so sad to see them go. This is a tough time to be without my women, the ones I was born of. Just having them in my life for the past few days has been a reminder of all the things I miss about them. Now I have to miss them all over again. But I'm so thankful and blessed that they came for a visit. It's good to be seen and known by them and it's good to see and know all the wonderful things about them that are truly unique. Some of the highlights were hugging my mom, processing my life with her and hearing her encouragement and guidance for both me and the kids. Also I loved Grams stubborn insistence on helping as much as she could despite being ninety-one and deserving constant pampering. My favorite moments were watching my mom play tag with my two little speed racers around the house and hearing about my Grandma's days in Kansas as a child during the Depression. I could live in my Grandma's childhood and the memories she shares with me. Life was so much simpler then and I'm so privileged to hear about it. This crazy postmodern zoo could learn a lot from the 1920s and 30s. I long to keep my Grandma's simplicity and love of life alive in my own.

The two of them cherished every hug from the kids like they were gold nuggets chiseled from the streets of Heaven. They hung on all the rambling kid words and admired many sweet moments between brother and sister as I glowed with a mother's pride. I hope the memories of this visit get lodged deep within the hearts of my children like they are in mine so that even time cannot disintegrate them.

During their time here it was hard to settle in knowing that they were leaving in only a few short days. They sort of still felt distant even though they were right here. Soon I'll go back to being without their physical presence in my life and that of my little family. But I'm going to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. I'll hold my love for them as a favored blessing from God, locked away in my treasure box in Heaven. We'll talk on the phone and remind each other of the love that's always there, distant or not. I'll cry about them leaving and blame it on pregnancy hormones so they won't feel guilty and be tempted to move closer and uproot their lives. Not that I would object.

They can never really know how much I love them, not unless God gives them a special revelation. It's His love that makes my own possible. If He hadn't given me eyes to see who they truly are then I wouldn't be able to love them so much. If I hadn't made Him first in my life, even before them, I could never have loved them at all. I missed out on so much of who they were back when I was more self-absorbed and yet lived closer geographically. I saw them frequently but never saw them with God's eyes. Now that I can truly love them I must do so from a distance. So be it, Lord. But You know my heart goes with them and I pray that they know it too. I'll just give them this writing so they can have a small glimpse of the blessing that they are to me. I can hardly explain it with words. May my tears speak the volumes I cannot utter.

8/11/2013

What are You Looking At?

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Matt. 5:8

I did a mini study on the beatitudes during my morning journaling a few weeks ago. It's something I could probably do every day for months and get more out of it. But today I have purity on the brain. Originally my thoughts on being pure in heart were about what comes out of us. This is referring to pure motives and an honest heart before God. But we cannot know our hearts true motives if they are impure from lies and cover-ups. There are many scriptures referring to the heart. I'm sure being pure of heart can be seen in many different ways. Here are some thoughts on one particular aspect of purity.

In order to know why we do things we must wonder, examine, and focus on cause and effect within us. We all have certain triggers or cultural and personal expectations for example. But it's important to know the "why" of our actions. Without our own "why" we end up at the mercy of others' "whys" and become slaves to those influences. The motive behind our actions means everything to God.

Pure Influences
What am I allowing into my heart? God tells us to guard our hearts above all else. It is the wellspring of life. Living water flows out of our hearts.We drink of Jesus and He becomes in us a wellspring of life. Our hearts go from being deceitful, hardened stones to springs of living water when we fill ourselves with Him. Where do we get this living water? Is it in our televisions, radios, or books? Is Jesus in those places? I suppose it depends on the content and our focus. It's pretty hard to find Him just anywhere.

Movies
There's only so much emotion a person is built to endure in one sitting. Add a soundtrack, visual effects, personal triggers, and familiar actors and you can end up with deep influences finding their way into your heart. "It's only a movie," we tell ourselves. "It's only make-believe," we tell our kids. But humans are built to be changed by stories. Stories teach us practically everything we've ever learned. It's either our perception or someone else's that is told. We'd like to think we can watch anything and not be deeply effected. But God built us for change and we learn a great deal from Hollywood whether we like it or not. Most of it needs to be unlearned as soon as possible. I won't even mentioned all that they taught me as a child!

Music
Music is a highway directly into our hearts. Whatever travels along a pleasant melody has direct access to our souls. We were designed to be influenced by music and to use it to define who we are and the expression of that self. Our worship of God is made more rich and full with music. It's meant to flow out of us like the same highway that goes in, directly back to God. We represent the things we sing (audibly or inaudibly) like anthems represent nations.

Everything Else
Words, sights, physical imprints through touch and smell; we are so influenced by all of this. Without God's guiding hand we are completely vulnerable to what our senses take in. Even seasoned Christians who have learned the discipline of taking every thought captive are in danger of the prowling lion. He's subtle and crafty in his manipulations. He steals our peace with lies he whispers every day through what we read, see, and hear. He knows humanity so well that he plays us like puppets as soon as we open ourselves up to him. The prowling lion picks off the weak first and then lays traps for the strong.

Expectations are often rooted in lies. Desires can be born of lies. Wandering attention can be enticed by lies. Purity is the only way of keeping our hearts completely guarded. By pure I mean holy. Holiness and righteousness are those sweet words that have their meaning in Jesus. Truth is born of a pure heart when we shall see God. Through all the deception and all the chaos, we shall see Him. Past the crowds of parading people who are being pulled by the current of the enemy, we see God waiting for us to follow Him only. Faintly through the haze of our stormy emotions and turmoil we think we see a ghost! But, no, it is our Savior come to take our hand and help us to walk on top of the waves of fear and deception. He always leads us into His reality and higher, deeper into His truth.

Pure eyes, washed in His blood. The blind can now see in order to follow. Pure hands that hold daily the Master's hands and feel for His closeness. Pure feet that find the narrow path and fit into His footsteps on unsure ground. We are only able to see God if we are pure in our hearts. Clean my heart of the lies, Lord. Help me to keep myself pure by running to You. Help me rescue others from the influence that paralyzes them, but not to get dirty by even the garment of their sin. I can only do that if I am pure in heart and am watching You do it first.