Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Some of you have been asking for these notes from our Women's Advent Brunch here in KC. Here they are. I pray that the Lord uses them for HIS glory! God bless!

Women’s Advent Brunch
Kansas City 2011
What return can I make to the Lord for all His goodness to me? Psalm 116:12

I. Introduction
a. Gift giving
i. This is a VERY busy season for us as women. We have so much on our plates. I want to honor you all for making the sacrifice to be here this morning, when you could be shopping, cleaning, decorating, taking care of the thousand and one things you need to take care of in this season. The Lord will bless your sacrifice, for He is a generous God.
ii. One of the key parts of this season for us is gift giving. We have our lists, our budget for each gift. We carry it all around with us while we fly in and out of each store. We are looking for the best gift, for the best price.
iii. Why do we give gifts?
1. Sometimes it’s because we have to, it’s expected of us.
2. Sometimes it’s because we really want to give someone a gift.
iv. We buy different kinds of gifts.
1. Sometimes we buy generic gifts simply because it’s a good price and it will do for a gift.
2. Sometimes we take time to think about something the person and a gift that would really be special.
v. A gift can really be something that expresses our relationship with a person and that deepens our relationship with a particular person.
vi. The deeper the relationship, the more the gift means to us to give and to receive.
vii. It’s easy in our fast paced, consumeristic culture to forget the why behind our gift giving.
viii. We easily forget the ONE who has given US the GREATEST GIFT already. We forget the One who has given us His Son, our savior and redeemer. He has come and become one of us. He comes to us each and every day. And He will come again with the gift of a new Heaven and a new Earth.
ix. This is the gift already given to us. The perfect gift that we are celebrating in this season.
II. What gift are we going to give to the give to the Giver of the One TRUE and PERFECT gift?
a. Are we going to forget Him?
b. Or is Christ going to make it on our list?
c. Is Christ at the top of our list? At the center of our Christmas preparations or at the bottom?
d. Has he even made the list or opps… did we forget Him??
III. We are going to take some time this morning to look at 3 women in the scripture who have given gifts to Jesus.
a. They are all different and they gave Jesus different gifts, but the heart of their gift is the same. The heart of their gift is love. Their gift is borne of love, it flows from their love. It comes because they were first loved by God.
b. All of us here this morning are at different places in our walk with the Lord and in our lives. We come with different needs, different wounds, different sufferings, different longings, different joys.
c. Jesus knows your heart and mine, he knows your circumstances and mine, he knows the hidden sufferings in your life and mine.
d. He knows us intimately and loves us infinitely.
e. He is inviting us to make a response to His personal and deep love for us.
f. He is asking us to give Him a gift this Christmas. He is asking something different of each of us. I pray that as we look more deeply at the lives of these women, that you will be able to identify with one of them. Some of us might identify with all of them on some level. But I pray that the Lord speaks to your heart of the one thing he really wants you to focus on this Advent.
IV. Listen with me as we meet our first gift- giving woman in the scriptures.
a. Luke 7: 38-39 “And behold, a woman in the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was sitting at table in the Pharisee’s house, came and stood behind Jesus weeping. She began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet.”
i. Wow! What a gift she has given to Jesus. She forgets herself completely. She looks the fool in front of very important men of her times. She humbles herself completely and repents of her sins.
ii. Maybe this is the gift some of us need to give to Jesus this year for Christmas. The gift of humility and true, deep heartfelt repentance.
1. Maybe we’ve let the anxieties and busyness of this season take over our lives and we’ve neglected our relationship with Christ.
2. Maybe we need to repent of our greediness in letting materialism/ consumerism blind us to what is truly important in life- relationship with God and others. Maybe we’ve started to believe that “stuff” is what will make us happy and we’ve forgotten those who are poor and needy in our world.
3. Maybe we need to repent of our selfishness. Maybe we’re getting resentful of the service the Lord is asking of us in our vocations and we are consistently coveting “my time”, “my space,” “my caramel macciato” my dark chocolate truffle.” Maybe our internal mantra has turned from Yes Lord, to What about ME?????
4. Maybe it’s pride that we need to repent of. Has my focus become clouded with trying to prove myself to the world. That I’m good, worthy, beautiful. Am I seeking to appear better than others? Have I forgotten that I need God? Am I operating out of self-suffiency instead of realizing that I can do nothing without Christ?
5. Do I have a secret sin that I need to repent of this Christmas? Drinking too much? Sexual Sin? Over spending?
iii. There are many idols we can put before the Lord… ourselves, our stuff, our busyness, our comfort, our reputation.
iv. Is Christ asking you for the gift of humbling yourself and washing His feet with your tears and sincere repentance?
v. If so, then give him the gift of repentance and then rejoice for in Zephaniah we hear: “Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgements against you, he has cast out all your enemies!”
V. Let’s meet our second gift- giving woman. The poor widow in Luke 21:1-4
a. “He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. And he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.”
i. I think we have a lot that we could learn from this woman. She is poor. She has little. She has great suffering- she has lost her husband, her future, her dreams, her hopes have all been taken from her in the loss of her husband.
ii. Some of us here have deep sorrow, the loss of hopes and dreams. The loss of someone or something very dear to us.
iii. Some of us are emotionally, physically or spiritually truly poor in this season of life. You might feel that you have very little left in you. When you hear that Jesus is asking for a gift from you, you think, Lord, I have nothing to give you!
iv. I think this widow probably felt that way too, and she gives the gift of acceptance of her life as it is, and of trust that the Lord will provide for her. She gives the gift of hope to Christ.
v. Instead of saying, “I don’t trust you, you have taken everything from me,” and holding on tightly to her resources and her life… Instead of being cynical and skeptical of the goodness of the Lord, she says, “I trust you. I give you ALL I have. The little that I have I surrender to you and believe that you will provide for all I need.”
vi. Her poverty of resources, her poverty of spirit, her emotional poverty have not left her selfish, greedy, fearful and distrustful, but has made her selfless, generous, and trusting.
vii. Is Christ asking you for the gift of embracing a suffering in your life? Is he asking you to let go of your life, your dreams and hopes, and trust Him more? Is he asking you to let go of control?
viii. If so, rejoice. There is freedom and grace when we surrender our lives to Him. He will give the grace for deeper trust.

VI. Lastly, let us look at a woman who gave a different, beautiful gift to the Lord.
a. Mark 14:3 “And while he was at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the jar and poured it over his head. … She has done a beautiful thing for me.”
b. This woman has taken her most precious, expensive possession and broke it open, she poured out every last drop of her perfumed oil to anoint the head of Jesus.
c. She is not a modern woman… she didn’t save anything for herself!! She didn’t find the gift that would give her a gift card in return…
d. She BROKE open the vase. Broke it. It will never be used by her again. She could have poured out a little oil and anointed Jesus. I think I would have done that, saved the rest for another occasion.
e. But she gave ALL! She saved nothing for herself.
f. She gave the gift of extravagant love and GRATITUDE to Jesus. She had experienced His great love for her.
g. This isn’t a woman who knew just in her head that she was loved by Jesus. She was a woman who opened her heart fully and let Jesus love her. She was then filled to overflowing with Love and THANKSGIVING to her God, her Jesus, Her Beloved.
h. She pushed past her shame, her unworthiness, her pride and let herself be loved.
i. Then she didn’t hold anything back for herself, she gave all to Jesus. She broke open her heart and filled the room with the fragrance of thanksgiving.
j. Thanksgiving is not an easy thing to give to Christ. It requires us to get out of ourselves. It takes believing we are loved even with our sin, weakness, ugliness...Not because of our greatness or anything we’ve done, but because of HIS greatness and what HE has done.
k. This takes great humility to recognize that all is from Him because of His goodness.
l. Is Christ asking you for the gift of humility and the sacrifice of praise? Is he asking you to let him love you and to love him back- to break open your heart and anoint him with your love and thanksgiving? Is he asking you to break open your heart and hold nothing back for yourself? To give all to Him?
m. If he is, rejoice! Let the fragrance of His love and your thanksgiving fill your life, your home and the lives of those around you this Christmas!
VII. Conclusion
a. Christ is asking us to take some time this morning to not forget His gift to us. The gift of Himself 2000 years ago, the gift of Himself each and every day, and the gift of His coming again.
b. He is inviting us to make a return to Him for all the gifts He has given us. The amazing thing about our God is that He is not outdone in generosity. What we give to Him he will give back to us 100 times over.
c. What return are we going to make this Christmas to the one who has given us everything? What gift are you going to give Jesus this Advent/ Christmas?

We are going to take some time to worship the Lord for His Goodness and His love for us. Then we are going to take some time to sit with the Lord and His personal word to us. There are some reflection questions there for you, if you are interested.

Word of caution: There are a lot of questions. Start with the first one. Then take a moment to consider which woman from the scriptures you relate to most this morning. Go to that set of questions and reflect with one or two of those questions.

I encourage you to use the questions if they are helpful and ignore them if they aren’t. Also, feel free to bring them home and continue to pray through them during this Advent season!

God bless you!
Women’s Advent Retreat 2011
What return can I make the Lord who has given so much to me?
Psalm 116:12

Reflection questions:
1. Make a list of the blessings/gifts the Lord has given you. (Feel free to use the back and sides of the pages too!

2. Read these passages again of the women that we heard about this morning:
Luke 7: 38-39 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was sitting at table in the Pharisee’s house, stood behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.

Luke 21: 1-4 He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury; and he saw a poor widow put in two copper coins. And he said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living that she had.”

Mark 14:3 “And while he was at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the jar and poured it over his head. … She has done a beautiful thing for me.”

Which woman/women do you identify with most in this season of your life? What gift is Jesus asking you to give Him this Christmas?

Humility/Repentance: (Luke 7: 38-39- the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears)
1. Is there a sin that has kept me from living in the fullness of what Christ has for me? What is that sin?

2. What practical things can I do to turn away from that sin? How can I avoid temptation?

3. When can I get to confession? Put it in your calendar so you don’t forget!

4. Do I truly believe that the blood of Jesus can save me from my sin?

5. “The Lord is patient toward you, not wishing anyone to perish, but that all would be brought to repentance.” 1 Peter 2:9

Take time to rejoice and praise God for His gift of forgiveness and reconciliation! He is our Savior come into the world for our sakes!

Acceptance/Trust: Luke 21:1-4
The poor widow
1. Is there an area/cross/suffering in my life that I am not embracing, but fighting? What is it?

2. What is Jesus asking me to let go of in my life? Where am I holding too tightly to MY plan, MY hopes, My treasures…?

3. Do I truly trust God with this area of my life? What keeps me from trusting in Him, from giving ALL to Him?

4. Take some time to entrust your life to the Lord in a deeper way. Place your special need inside His heart and entrust it to Him. Give Him your gift of trust.

5. Do I feel like I am living in poverty of spirit? Am I tired, weary, empty? Take some time to offer your poverty to the Lord as a gift. He wants to give you the gift of hope in return.
“Those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Love/Thanksgiving : Mark 14:3
The woman who anointed Christ with oil
1. Is the Lord asking me to give Him the gift of thanksgiving this Christmas season?

2. What keeps me from thanksgiving? Unworthiness? Selfishness? Blindness to the goodness of the Lord?

3. What are some practical ways that I can increase my thanksgiving on my day?

When we are living in the perspective of thankfulness, our love for the Lord and others increases. Reflect on how generously you are living with the Lord and others.
4. Have I broken open the alabaster jar of my heart to the Lord or am I measuring out my love and keeping some for me? In what ways am I holding back my love for the Lord and for others?

5. How is the Lord asking me to break open my heart and life to Him and others more?

7. Take some time to give the Lord the gift of your heart, broken open for Him and His people. Give him the parts of you that you are holding back for yourself. The Lord is never outdone in generosity. The more we give to Him, the more He gives to us.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Thirst- reflection on Christ's last words from the cross

My sisters, it is with great honor and joy that I get to share with you yet another angle of the cross of Christ. We are going to spend time together diving into two short words uttered from the mouth of Jesus while He was hanging on the cross for us.

I thirst.

It is amazing to me that these two small words can speak so much. As I was sitting and praying with these words the Lord led me to a passage in John chapter 4 about the Samaritan woman at the well.

The Lord said to me, “Become acquainted with this woman at the well.” And that, my sisters is what we are going to do this morning. We are going to become acquainted with her and we are going to learn from her, for she has much to teach us.

The story starts off with Jesus. He is weary from his journey. Maybe some of you are weary on your journey of life. Jesus understands that intimately. He is weary. He sits down next to a well outside a Samaritan town and a woman from the town comes out to draw water. It is mid day. The hottest part of the day. Women in that time came in groups early in the morning to the well to get water before the day grew too hot and to socialize. This woman comes alone, in the hottest part of the day. She is obviously an outcast of some sort.

We know she had 5 husbands and the man she is with now is not her husband. What other difficult circumstances she has in her life, we don’t know but can draw some conclusions about her from her encounter with Jesus.

We can see that she is that she is lonely, she is isolated, she is cynical, hardened, longing for love and self protected… I believe that she hasn’t always been this way. I think she has been changed by the circumstances in her life.

She has become hardened by her broken dreams, disappointments, losses, infidelity, rejection, isolation… and she looks for love in the wrong places and protects herself from love all at the same time…

Maybe you can relate to this too. You were young, in love with Jesus. You knew he loved you and you were flying high. Then suffering came and more suffering and hardships and you’ve become cynical and self protected.

Or maybe you are younger in the Lord, you haven’t experienced too many hardships, but you FEAR them. And in your fear you have become self protected.

This hardened, self –protected, broken woman is the woman that Jesus meets at the well that day.

“Give me a drink.”

Jesus asks her for a drink of water. He thirsts. He thirsts for her. He thirsts for you and He thirsts for me.

She says, “How is it that you a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?
I don’t think she is just asking the practical question because Jews and Samaritans are enemies. I think she’s asking, “What do you want from me? Are you asking for water or do you want a piece of me too?
She’s become cynical and suspicious ~thinking everyone is out to take a piece of her. I think we can start to respond to the Lord in this way too.
You love me? What are you going to ask of me? What do you want from me? What are you going to take from me?
We can start to relate to Jesus as if he’s out to get us. Then we start to hold on~ hold on tightly to the things that mean the most to us. Just don’t take my husband, or my children, or my job, or my nice figure, or my health, or Mr. X who I plan to marry one day… They are MINE!!!!
What do you want from me Jesus of Nazareth? Why are you asking me for a drink? Why are you thirsting for me?

We lack confidence in His love. And in this fear and suspicion we hide ourselves in our self protection and cling to an illusion of being in control.

It is easy to have this happen to us as we encounter circumstances in our life that are not what we planned, not what we said “yes” to.

(Example of Mary at mayo- planned on good answers, or bad answers, but not no answers…)

Slowly, we become hardened (or for some of us, it’s quickly).We shove down our anger, our resentment, our weakness, our anxiety… the pressure pushes this all down together and gets hard. The ground of our heart becomes hard. Or at least there are parts of us that are hard. We thirst for water to soften our hearts again.

“Jesus said to her, “Call your husband and come here. The woman answered, I have no husband. You are right in saying I have no husband. For you have had 5 husbands and he whom you have now is not your husband.”

What is it that we turn to instead of Jesus. What do we have in our lives that are our 5 husbands? We too turn to other things to control since our lives are out of our control… we eat too much, we starve ourselves, we turn to alcohol, drugs, sexual sin, we buy stuff, we let social networking consume our time… I bet we each have 5 husbands. 5 things that we turn to, that we try to control, instead of turning to Jesus.

Jesus said to her, “Call your husband and come here. The woman answered, I have no husband. You are right in saying I have no husband. For you have had 5 husbands and he whom you have now is not your husband.”

In this one line, Jesus EXPOSES the Samaritan woman’s longing for love. He exposes her grief. He exposes her broken relationships, her broken dreams. He exposes her shame. He exposes her sin. He exposes her isolation. He exposes her thirst. He exposes her self protection. He exposes her desire for control at all costs.

He is able to expose her because he KNOWS her. He KNOWS her deepest longings, fears, her sin, her mistakes, her hopes, insecurities, sadness, disappointments… HE KNOWS HER. He knows and exposes her deepest longings… to be known and to be loved.

He knows us too. He knows you. He knows me. He knows our deepest longings, fears, our grief, sin, weakness, hopes and dreams. He knows our hardness, our lack of trust, our self protection. He knows our grasping for control. He knows. He knows our dignity. He knows what we are becoming.

What is at the heart of it all? Our desire to be truly known. Our desire to be deeply loved.

We have a deep, deep place in us that longs, thirsts, yearns, that aches for love. In this scripture, the woman at the well says to Jesus, “the well is deep, and you don’t even have a bucket.”

If we sit for any length of time, we find that our well is deep. Our longing for Jesus is deep. AND our brokenness is deep. We have wounds that are deep, we have grief that is deep, and we have human longings that are deep. We have sufferings that are deep. Sufferings that are borne from circumstances that we have no control over and sufferings that come from our sin.

For some of us, we have grown cynical and suspicious of Jesus.
This well is deep and you don’t even have a bucket.
-my pain is too deep for your healing.
-my sin is too deep for your mercy
-my longing is too deep for you to fulfill
-I can’t even figure out my problem, how can you?

As I spent a whole prayer time on this line, I realized that there is an ache in MY well that is so far down there, that I think it’s actually dry, not just deep.
Now I want to clarify here… I am not suggesting that our whole hearts and lives are dry, empty wells, but I do believe that each of us has a place of brokenness, a wound, a place in our hearts that has become hardened either from our sin or circumstances or both. Sisters, Jesus thrists for ALL of our heart and our life. I believe he wants to speak to the area or areas that are the driest.

Does he ask us for a drink so that we see that our wells are deep, maybe even empty?

What? You want ME to give YOU a drink???? I have NOTHING to give you, Lord. Nothing. My well is dry. It’s all dried up. It’s deep.

It’s this emptiness, this dryness that we fear the most. We modern American women are supposed to be able to do it all. All the time. For all people. Jesus wants a drink? Great. I can do it. Right away and with a smile. 

But wait, I’m empty here. My well is dry. What do I do now??

I think most of us in this situation panic and hide. We think, “Just don’t let them find out.” We desperately fear being exposed. We despise having anyone, even the Lord, find out that our well is empty. That it’s deep.

We are all women who are “fine.” “I’m fine thanks.” “Lord, I’m fine. Remember I’m in control. I have it all figured out, I don’t need you. Anyway, I’m kind of afraid of what you might do if I let you be in control. So, really I’m fine.”

I was processing this some with a sister and I think she said it perfectly. She said “I spend a lot of time trying REALLY hard NOT to be that woman at the well.”

We hide our brokenness, emptiness, the deep aches. We put up our self protection.

And the Lord says… I KNOW you, stop hiding.

Panic can fill us. NO please DON”T KNOW ME… at least not all of me. Let me fix myself first, and then you can know me. Don’t look in that closet. And yet the Lord says… I do know you… AND… I LOVE YOU.

The Lord continues to give us circumstances~ crosses~ that shake us out of our “I’m fine.” They force us out of our illusion of being in control. They expose us… our sin, our weakness, our anxiety, our fear, our emptiness, our dryness.

I know I fear the cross. I don’t think I’m the only one. We fear suffering. We fear the pain of it, and we fear our ability to respond to it. I think we fear being exposed in it. In our self protection we start to question the Love of Jesus. We can start to think that he gives us suffering just to make us suffer.

My sisters, the cross, the cross is our path to Jesus, to the One we Love. It does expose us. It exposes our thrist for Jesus; our need for Jesus AND it is THE WAY to quench that thirst.

Suffering is not to be feared, for Christ gives Himself to us in our suffering.

We do not suffer in vain, just for the sake of suffering. We suffer for conversion. Because it’s THE WAY to fill that yearning, to heal that ache, to quench our thirst for Christ. It’s the elevator to the heart of Jesus. We yearn, we thirst for intimacy and without the cross, without our cross, we would never find that intimacy.

When we try to hide from the cross, when we try to avoid the cross, or compare it~ mine’s not as bad as the cross so and so has, or minimize it ~ it’s not that big of a deal, I’m fine~ the cross loses it’s effectiveness in our lives. We’re missing out on the graces that Christ has for us.

We want to milk the cross for all it’s worth! We want to get every grace for redemption out of each cross Christ gives us.

The cross in your life is your ticket to Jesus. Your cross is the expressway to His heart.

It reminds me of an image that I had a few years ago. Maybe some of you remember it. It was a particularly challenging time in my life. I was experiencing a suffering and I was mad about it. The image started out with me stomping and kicking the cross. I was so angry that I had to deal with this particular situation. Then, I looked down and I saw Jesus under the cross. It was a time on His way to Calvary that he had fallen. And I wasn’t helping him up, I was jumping on the cross that he was under. I was horrified.
Jesus then asked me to pick up the cross and help him carry it. I was afraid to. I was afraid that it would kill me. It was too heavy.
Jesus looked at me and said, this cross is not meant for your death, but for my death and your life.
If you pick this up and carry it with me, you will feel the heaviness of the cross, you will feel the cross rubbing your skin raw, you will feel the splinters enter your skin and you will feel how long the road is, BUT it is not for your death, it is for my death. It is for your life and for redemption.

I think we often fear suffering, we fear the cross because we think it’s going to be the death of us, but it’s actually the life of us. It’s our way to the intimacy that we all desire with the Lord. It’s the path to new life in Christ.

If you want to truly KNOW Christ-
Come AS YOU ARE to Him
Through his cross
With Him in his cross
In Him –into his crucified, pierced heart

Okay, sisters, I want you to close your eyes a minute. I want you to picture yourself at Calvary. Jesus is in front of you on the cross. (I read that the cross was actually at eye level not up high.) So, he’s right in front of you. He looks right at you and he says “I thirst.”

But Lord, how is it that you a Jew, can ask me a Samaritan for a drink?
Lord, how is that you the King of Kings, can ask me to give you a drink from my deep, dry well?

Jesus’ response is this… IF you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink’, you would have asked Him and he would have given you LIVING WATER.

Wait a minute, didn’t Jesus just ask for a drink and now He’s offering her a drink?? Yes, and he did this on the cross too. He says’ I thirst,’ then he pours out his life giving water when the sword is thrust in his heart. Water pours out. Mercy pours out. Love pours out.

Now go back to where you were on Calvary. Imagine yourself with your deep, empty well at the foot of the cross. Let Christ’s life giving water sprinkle from His wounded heart into your well. Let His love, His mercy, fill your emptiness. Let it soften your dry ground, let it soak into your heart, be made clean by the life giving water of Jesus.

I will sprinkle clean water upon you and cleanse you from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you and I will take out your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:25-26

I think there is a temptation to put the umbrella up to protect ourselves from His mercy because to receive mercy, we have to come face to face with our selves.
I also think there is a temptation sit for a moment and then move on. To not stay at the cross long enough for our dry land to become a river of life giving water. We rush to Easter. Jesus is inviting us to STAY. Stay in the cross. Stay in his cleansing rain of mercy. Stay at his wounded side.

His cross is an invitation to mercy. An invitation to be known as we are, not as we wish we were.

St. Therese says, “His Heart is always open, and I can take refuge there this instant, since my wretchedness, far from being an obstacle, is a springboard to propel me there. (pg 61)

We need to allow ourselves to be exposed. In being exposed in our need for mercy and not running and hiding- in receiving his mercy, his forgiveness, his faithfulness, his love,
We in turn are softened and we are made into ministers of mercy instead of ministers of judgement. We are set free from our self protection.

John 7: 37 ~ “if anyone thirst let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scriptures has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”

Sisters, I am reminded of the blind man who was sitting on the side of the road when Jesus came by. He was wrapped tightly in his cloak.I think that if the man was blind, he probably had other problems too. He couldn’t work and was probably a beggar, so he was probably very thin. He might have been sick too. He might have had other wounds that he was hiding under his cloak. But when Jesus called to him, he THREW OFF his cloak, SPRANG up and RAN to Jesus.

Jesus is calling us. Let us THROW off OUR cloak, let us come out of hiding, SPRING up and RUN, sisters, RUN to Jesus.

The woman at the well says “Come and see a man that told me EVERYTHING I ever did.” With such great LOVE he exposed her.

He exposed her thirst to be loved and to be known and then HE FULFILLED her thirst by knowing her and STILL loving her.

What is my typical response when I am exposed???
Self. Self. Self. Self absorption, self loathing, self pity… I turn inward. I fear. I close off from the world. I close off from the Lord. I sit in the pot of humiliation and let it consume me.
This is our temptation when we find ourselves exposed.

Psalm 62 says “Oh God you are my God, for you I long, for you my soul is thristing… like a dry, weary land without water…
Then it goes on to say, “On my bed I remember YOU, on YOU I muse through the night.”

Have you ever been exposed and stayed up all night musing. Going over every word of a conversation or interaction, dying of embarrassment over and over again, thinking about what so and so must think of me, and how can I fix or “control” different situations? So often I am up at night musing on MYSELF, instead of musing on the Lord.

This is not what the woman at the well did. She did not sit in her brokenness, she did not sit in her grief, she did not sit in her sin and think only of her self. When Jesus exposed her sin, her shame, her brokenness, she didn’t run, she sprang up and ran to Jesus and opened her heart. She received his life giving water, His mercy.

And what does Jesus do? He gives her a gift. HE REVEALS Himself to her. There are VERY few people in the scriptures that Jesus says straight out, I AM HE. I am the Messiah. I am the one who SAVES. HE gives her HIMSELF.

She is given the gift of knowing Him and loving Him. For Jesus too thirsts to be known and loved. He THRISTS for you and for me to KNOW Him. He THRISTS for you and for me to LOVE HIM.

Jesus reveals Himself to the broken. Jesus reveals Himself IN our brokenness.

If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is saying to you, ‘give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.

We DO know him. Let us ask and receive His water of life.

Isaiah 43:20-21
“For I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself ~THAT THEY MIGHT DECLARE MY PRAISE.”

Sisters, once we receive his life-giving water we are called to Worship.

He tells the woman at the well…
“The hour is coming, and now is here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.”

My sisters, Let us worship Him in spirit and in truth. In the truth of who we truly are. Not who we wish we were. Who we are. In our brokenness and need, in our dry places, AND in the truth of who HE IS… our Savior, our redeemer, The ONE who loves us, the Living Water that quenches our thirst.

I am going to close with a scripture that is one of the last 4 verses in the Bible.

Revelation 22:17
“The spirit and the bride say “COME.”(Jesus is saying to us COME- come to the cross, receive my life giving, all cleansing water, my mercy). All who hear say, “COME” (that’s us! We say to Jesus, COME! Come fill our dry, empty wells in our hearts) and let him WHO IS THIRSTY, let him who DESIRES, take the WATER OF LIFE WITHOUT PRICE.”

Let’s pray:
Lord Jesus, COME! We say Come! Let your living waters that flow from your crucified heart, fill our empty wells, soften our dry land. That we may have rivers of life-giving water pouring from our hearts to those in our world who also desperately thirst for you. Amen.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hope in God

Well, it's clear that I have put my hope in something other than the Lord. I know this because life didn't happen as i planned and I am falling apart over it. We have been waiting for 2 month now to have a series of appointments at the Mayo Clinic for our daughter Mary Margaret. For M&M's entire little short life of 14 months she has had chronic hives and skin conditions. Our allergy doctor here in St. Paul thought it might be an allergic disease called mastocytosis. She wanted us to go to Mayo to confirm it. Also mastocytosis can often be a secondary condition so she wanted to make sure that we weren't missing a bigger problem... like cancer! So as you can imagine, I have spent these last 6-8 just trying to pass the time with my eyes fixed on the goal of Feb 23rd... the day we find out for sure that Mary Margaret is ok and get the answers to our questions.
Well today was the day. We woke up and there were NO hives on Mary... anywhere. I should have been happy, but I was taken by fear that we wouldn't find the answers that I had put my hope in. I had stopped living for the will of God at each moment and started living for Feb 23rd and "the answers."
When we got to Mayo, the doctors couldn't really understand our verbal explanation of her skin condition. Our fault, not there's, I'm sure. I hadn't taken any pictures because I never thought we could have a day without hives. So they did nothing. No tests, no blood work, no other appointments... no answers. I have to wait more. I have to wait and see what her little body does and if more hives come back then I take pictures and send them down to Mayo. From there the doc will decide what to do.
Waiting. You know, I prepared myself to embrace "the answers" today. I expected good news, but was also preparing to carry the cross of bad news. I NEVER even dreamed of no news. I had put my hope in news. In answers. Not in Jesus.
I like to be in control. I spend a lot of time diagnosing myself and my kids before I bring them into the doctor. I fix my own problems before I come to the Lord (usually with a good long talk with a friend. :) I tell people how I struggled through my problems... after they are already fixed, neat, pretty. You know, when it's a nice pretty sharing. Something to inspire. I like to host people at my house, where I'm in control. If given the option, I like to drive. I like my life neat, figured out, pretty. I like to have a clean, orderly, peaceful home. I like to have the "right" emotions, you know the nice ones, joy, peace, patience...
I had all this figured out. Actually, I researched and decided that yes, Mary has mastocytosis. I decided that she has the kind that only affects the skin and that there are not going to be any other complications. All I needed was for these docs at Mayo to confirm that I was right. It was neat, it made sense in my brain. It was clear. I was in control.
But Jesus loves me to much to leave me in my delusion. I am not in control. I am not pretty and put together. I don't know the answers. and THANKS BE TO GOD that I don't have to be. He is.
At this point I dont' think he is asking me to receive the gift of Mary Margaret being cured. I don't know if she is. She might be. I think he is inviting me to recieve the gift of mercy. Receive the gift of His cross. That he died for me. He was born into messiness so that he could be born in my messyness. He died in messiness so taht he could die in my messiness. He comes to the messy. He comes to the weak. He comes to the out of control. He comes to the broken hearted. He comes to the ones who find that their hopes are crashing down around them. My answers, my false idols,my hopes, are not God. God is God. My control is not real. God is control. God is real. He is inviting me to receive the gift of Himself in my messiness. It's ok that I am sad. It's ok that I am angry. It's ok that I am irritable. It's ok that I'm not in control. It's ok that I am disappointed. It's ok as long as I INVITE JESUS INTO it. So often I stop at the first sign of this brokenness and I pull up the drawbridge. I nail big wooden beams across the door with a sign that says "out for the day, come back another time." Sorry Lord, this isn't pretty and neat. I don't understand it yet. I don't have it dissected and organzied. I havent' put little accessories on it yet. come back another time. Actually... don't come back... I'll come to your house. I'll come by when I'm feeling a bit better.
The gift. Receive the gift. The gift of Jesus in my tears. in my lack of understanding. in my fear. in my lack of patience. in my brokeness. Jesus reveals Himself to the broken.
Jesus. look to Jesus and be radiant with Joy. I stopped looking at Jesus. I had my eyes fixed on Feb 23rd. I had my eyes fixed on getting "answers." What did I find, no answers... only Jesus.
Jesus I trust in this minute and in the next minute. Each moment that you give me, I ask you to help me to live in you, with you and through you and for you. not for a perfect, little neat package for life. help me to enter into and help carry the heavy, bloody, messy cross. You became messy for me, so that you could come into my messyness. COME!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Speak Lord, Your Servant is Listening

Women's Advent Brunch
December, 2010

Speak Lord,
Your Servant Is Listening

Read the story of Martha and Mary. Luke 10: 38-42
For many of us in the midst of our busy lives, we hear this story as a rebuke from the Lord and can even wonder, Lord what are you asking of me??? I am so busy and so much of it I can’t cut out. I can’t say, sorry kiddo, change your own diaper, or tell your 11 years old, drive yourself to practice, OR go pick money off of trees to pay your bills.
As I have been reflecting on this passage over the past weeks, the Lord has been speaking to me not a word of chastisement ,but one of intimacy. The relationship between Martha and Jesus is very deep. Let’s take some time to look within the lines of this passage and see what the Lord might be speaking to us this morning.

Let’s start with looking at what we know about Martha. We know that she has a sister named Mary and a brother named Lazurus. We know that they live in Bethany. We know that Jesus is at their house. We know that she welcomed Jesus into her home, into her life with JOY. We also know that she is stressed with the service that she has to do. But we don’t know the other circumstances of her life.

The scriptures don’t mention her husband or children, how old she is, her state of health. We don’t know if maybe she is:
- sick with a chronic illness
- or doesn’t have a husband and desires one
- or her husband might be sick
- or she has too many children under her feet as she is trying to serve
- or she maybe she is longing for a child
- maybe she is grieving the loss of a child, or a friend, or her husband, or her parents

We don’t know her broader circumstances, just that it upset her that she was left alone to serve.

As we look at the next part of the story we start to see the depth of relationship she has with Jesus.
She says to Jesus,” DON”T YOU CARE??? That my sister has left me alone to serve? TELL HER then to help me.”
First of all, this is Jesus in her home, the famous prophet. AND she was a woman. This would be like having the Pope in our home and speaking this way to him. If I had an important guest in my home that I didn’t know well, I wouldn’t dream of speaking to him in that way. But Martha knew Jesus. She knew him well enough to speak very frankly with him.

Let’s look at these 2 lines again.

She starts with DON”T YOU CARE????
- don’t you care that I am lonely
- don’t you care that I’m afraid?
- Don’t you care that I am so so sad???
- Don’t you care that my child is far from you??
- Don’t you care that my husband is emotionally distant??
- Don’t you care that I long for a child??
- Don’t you care that I long for a husband??
- Don’t you care that I am so tired?
- Don’t you care that I am so sick that I can’t fulfill my responsibilities?
- Don’t you care that I’m misunderstood?
- Don’t you care…
Then after Martha asks Jesus, Don’t you care, she then tells him what to do…
- “Tell her then to come help me.”
- Tell him to fall in love with me
- Tell him to see my needs
- Lord just give me a baby
- Lord just please stop giving me babies
- Lord just provide a job for my husband
- Lord just make my child chose you
- Lord just make me healthy
- Lord just make my children healthy

And how does Jesus respond to Martha???
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and concerned about many things.”

On the surface she is upset about not having help in the kitchen, but Jesus responds to her deeper anxieties. Jesus KNOWS her. He KNOWS her deepest anxieties, he KNOWS her hidden circumstances, He KNOWS her longings. He KNOWS her concerns. HE KNOWS HER.

This, my sisters, is the key to this passage. HE KNOWS MARTHA’S MANY ANXIETIES AND CONCERNS. She doesn’t even have to say a word about them. He isn’t scolding Martha. He is LOVING her. He is saying I KNOW YOU. I KNOW.

Jesus knows that we are anxious and concerned about many things. He knows. He knows us deeply.

“Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken from her.”

It would be foolish of us to think that Mary doesn’t have any anxieties and concerns. She is a human being and every human being has anxieties and concerns. But MARY is choosing to come to the feet of Jesus and sit with him. To listen to HIM.

Have you ever tried sitting and listening to the Lord when your mind and heart are whirling with anxiety??? It can feel impossible.

So, in the midst of our many anxieties and concerns, how do we move from questioning Jesus’ love and demanding from Him to sitting at his feet and listening to him in peace?? How do we move past our many anxieties and concerns?

The Lord has been speaking the word “DE-CLUTTER” to me.
- The same way that we need to de-clutter our homes regularly, we need to de-clutter our hearts and minds.
- I hate clutter in my home, yet I also don’t like throwing stuff away. I like to hold on to my stuff, the same way I have a hard time letting go of my anxieties and concerns.
In Philippians 3:18-19 “For many… live as enemies of the cross of Christ…Their minds are OCCUPIED with earthly things.”

Their minds are OCCUPIED with earthly things.

What are our minds occupied with?
We need to stop and examine the things that are cluttering our minds. We need to look at it honestly and see if we should keep it in or get rid of it.
- some of our anxieties stem from what I call “comparisonitis”
o We think we should be someone else or be doing something else because that is what sister X is doing.
- some of our anxieties are that I have too high of expectations on myself and my time
- I want to clean my living room, bathroom, mop and sort all the kids clothes this morning while watching 4 young children…
-Ok- what expectations can I drop???
-some of our anxieties are deep and out of our control. These the Lord invites us to ENTRUST to HIM.
When we ENTRUST something to someone, we take something that is very valuable to us and we place it in the hands of someone who will take care of it. We don’t ENTRUST something valuable to someone who is not going to take care of it.

Jesus wants us to ENTRUST our deep anxieties, concerns, longings, to HIM. Then we can free our minds to think of things that are above, and not be occupied with earthly things.

I had this experience this week. It was a busy day. I didn’t get any prayer time that morning. I flew around doing so many things and the list that I had to do was getting longer by the minute. I had 2 hours after the kids went to bed to get all these things done before bed, but I also needed to take time with the Lord. Then it hit… anxiety… I homeschool my kids and I my mind became occupied with all the things that I am not doing, and that my kids can’t do yet, then, I started to panick about my parenting and I thought oh- I should read that new parenting book I got, but wait, I also have that issue in my marriage that I’m trying to work through, I have that book about marriage, I should read that, but wait a minute, but I need to sew Jimmy’s Christmas present, oh yeah and I haven’t even ordered our Christmas cards, and wait a minute, when was the last time I exercised, I need to exercise right now, but, my kids, my kids are going to, I don’t know, NOT SUCCEED if I don’t figure out their education, but parenting comes before education, but wait, marriage comes before parenting… and around and around and around I went. I decided to do sit ups while planning for homeschool and read a parenting book at the same time…
My heart was racing, my mind was obviously OCCUPIED with earthly things. Throughout this whole time, I hear the still, small voice of the Lord… ENTRUST… ENTRUST to me your anxieties. ENTRUST.
I look up from my book while doing sit ups on my living room floor and I see a statue we have of St. Joseph holding baby Jesus. Jesus is looking right at me. Right at me. ENTRUST.

So I roll over before our prayer table, and prostrate myself and go through the list of anxieties, one by one and ENTRUST them into the hands of love. It took a while. I ended in peace.

I didn’t get anything on my list done. But my heart was at peace and I could see more clearly what was important and what was not important. Most importantly I made room in my mind for Christ.

As we move through this Advent, we can’t physically sit at the Lord’s feet all day because we have responsibilities. BUT we can take some time to declutter our minds, to MAKE ROOM for our Savior to come.

In the midst of our daily responsibilities we can stop when we start down the anxiety road and we can ENTRUST to the Lord our many anxieties and concerns. We can interiorly be still and KNOW that He is God. We can be still and know that HE KNOWS us intimately. HE KNOWS our needs, our fears, our longings, our hopes, our many anxieties and concerns. And he invites us to chose the better part. To de-clutter so that we can sit at his feet and say “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Here it is Saturday afternoon. What have I done this morning? Has it been a successful, fruitful morning. I think so. It doesn't feel like it though. I haven't cleaned the bathroom, dusted, vacuumed, or even finished a load of laundry ( but I have started the same load now for the 3rd time, because I keep forgetting about it and it is STILL smelling moldy.)
So what have I done????
Well, I took my 5 year old for a much needed date time with Mommy. I talked on the phone with my dad. I talked to by dear friend who is too sick to talk all that often. And I phoned my brother who just had a new baby.
I took care of the relationships in my life. During the week my attention is on my children almost every minute of the day. Yet these other relationships are important to me too.
So, even though I haven't pumped myself with caffeine and run around making my house look like a museum, I have had a productive morning. I have tended to the things that matter most. I have tended my relationships.
Now I need to tend to the most important relationship of all. I need to go take some time with the Lord. While my sweet ones are napping and resting I will turn my gaze to the One I love the most. Then my productive morning will be complete. :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I've been reflecting lately on what it means to raise a "successful" child. What are really the goals of my homeschool. Is it to produce an academic? A philosopher? A genius? A millionare?

I think to raise a successful kid is to raise one who is a first a disciple. A person who loves Christ and lives for Christ. A person who can think and reason enough to face the challenges of our post Christian. A person who has a servant heart for those around them. A person who can support themselves and a family if called to. I pray that I can help my children to grow to be the unique individuals that God has called them to be.

So, if this is my definition of success, how does that influence how I teach and raise my children today? What it truly the most important things that they should learn at these tender early ages of 7,5 3, and almost 1?

I have been fascinated by Dr. Raymond Moore's research on early childhood development. The more I read, the more I realize that my warm, loving responses to my children at these early ages makes more of a difference for them than whether or not they can read and spell and know their grammar rules AT THIS TIME. There is a time and place for this learning.

My goal is going to be to fill my kids life with Truth, Beauty and Goodness through prayer, great books, chores, great books, nature, great books, free time to explore, great books, some math, great books, opportunites to serve others, great books and lots of love.

We'll find out in 20 years or so if I should have used more workbooks and rigid lessons in 2nd grade.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Christopher Columbus Day!

The more relaxed I am about homeschooling, the more creative I become. The less "school" we do, the more we seem to learn.

Today we threw out our math books (gasp!), and our phonics (gasp), and our spelling... and we had a fun day learning about Christopher Columbus!

Okay, so I made up a game. I was nervous that it would be a flop and it wasn't! It was so fun!
We pretended to be Christopher Columbus and his crew and find new lands.

Things needed:
3 laundry baskets ( preferably different sizes, but not necessary)
Baby dolls for crew- list of jobs in History Pockets- cook,doctor,carpenter,priest, first mate...
Hard tack- mix 1 cup flour, 1/2 t baking powder, 1/8 salt, 1 cup water. Bake 450 degrees for 18 minutes or so. Turn over 1/2 way through
Paper and pencil
long string tied to each laundry basket
compass (if you have one)

Construction paper (preferably different colors) cut in strips with instructions on them
"Good winds. Go North 10 steps"
"Bad Storm. Blown off course. Take 5 steps East"
"Food Break! Eat Hard tack"
"Draw a picture of the ocean all and you see in it"
"Dictate a letter to Diego (Columus' son) about your voyage"
"Sickness. Go back South 5 steps."

1. Make your hardtack. ( baking, math, measuring, working together! What a wealth of learning!)
2. We "rock paper scissored" for who would be Christopher Columbus and have the biggest boat (Santa Maria)
3. The three year old was the smallest boat... the Nina.
3. Pick your crew.
4. Gather all your supplies.
5. Find a place to begin and a place to end. Our starting point was at the end of our driveway. Our ending point was in our garden in the back yard.
6. Figure out North, South, East and West and teach your children. (great skill for them and me! )
7. Put your construction paper instructions ( about 20 of them) in a bowl.
8. Let the littlest pick first. Off you go.
Everyone follows the instructions together, but they take turns picking from the bowl.

We made it to our destination! We found new land and experienced a little of how hard it was to make that journey. My 3 year old worked on colors (from the different colored slips). My 5 year old practiced counting by counting steps. My 7 year old practiced reading. They all practiced working together. We enjoyed being outside. We laughed and we LEARNED!!

We tried round 2 because they begged for it... only the 7 year old could handle 2 rounds. :)

Good books that we read to introduce Columbus...
The Christopher Columbus Story by Alice Dangliesh
Christopher Columbus by Ann McGovern

We sang:
The Nina, The Pinta, The Santa Maria,
Columbus and his Crew,
they sailed the ocean blue,
in 1492.