Frogs, Lice and Flies . . . Oh My!

Moses is known for a few things.

Being put in a basket and placed in the reeds. Experiencing God in a burning bush. Pretty much questioning God’s call. The staff that turned into a serpent. Being the forbearer of the 10 plagues. The journey on dry land through the Red Sea. The journey through the wilderness. The ten commandments.

In the scripture I have overlooked —  for years — the verse in chapter 4 that says “21 And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.”

WHAT??

Moses and Aaron were getting ready to go and approach a PHARAOH and ask him to let the Israelites go into the wilderness so they could serve the LORD.  The LORD himself was asking them to do an impossible feat. He knew the Pharaoh would not release the Israelites. He knew the plagues would not change his mind or his heart. Yet, he sent them. And, they went.

How often do we ask God “How much longer will I have to come before this mountain?” How many times have we cried out “Why does this feel like an endless trial?”

Maybe, just maybe, God is calling us like He called Moses. He is calling us to come against a formidable enemy over and over so that he can prove HIMSELF to us. Without trials we do not learn to lean on him for EVERYTHING. Without being hunted we wouldn’t know where to run for safety. Without getting out of the boat we wouldn’t learn to walk on water. Without being lost, we wouldn’t know how to search for him.

At this time in my life, I feel like I am Moses who has been sent. I question why God would want to use me in any aspect. I am NOT perfect. I do not always make the right decisions. Sometimes I react instead of respond. I do not always say the right thing, nor am I always eloquent in what I try to convey.

But, I know I have been sent. I know I am up against an enemy who is not of this world, even though it doesn’t always feel like it.

I am ready for the LORD to show up, show out and show himself  MIGHTY, POWERFUL, AND AWESOME.

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Wildflowers at His Feet

Honeysuckles waft their perfume in the sticky air.

Their white and yellow flowers trumpet the arrival of warmth and soon coming summer.

I am going to make myself a tiara of honeysuckles one day. I will don it proudly and walk bare foot through a field, letting the sun kiss my skin and the breeze tousle my hair.

In my Abba Fathers earth, I feel far less than the princess he says I am. In moments of complete surrender, he reminds me of my position. It’s easiest to surrender in solemn moments of olfactory overload. Sitting inside this room, if I close my eyes, I can find myself in the dream . . .

In a familiar song, the words “my hands are strong, but my knees are far to weak” stick out like a sore thumb. Yes, my hands are strong – they work, they hold, they comfort,they discipline, they dig in cool earth, they raise in praise, they hold onto the Fathers hands for dear life . . .

But my knees are far too weak to stand. I fall onto them, the sheer weight of life weighing me down.  My hands, gripping onto the nail scarred hands of my savior, lose no strength. Can he bear my weight?

The sweet scent of yellow and white trumpeting honeysuckles awaken me out of my inner questioning.

I am HIS princess.

I will lay my crown at his feet, even if it is one of wildflowers. My soul will rejoice in him and in him alone. My knees will always be weak in his presence. My hands will always be strong when they hold his.

“. . . Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.” ( Proverbs 31:30 The Message )

The Rooster Crowed . . .

Mothers day is upon us. Currently I’m sure there are dinners going on, presents being unwrapped, hugs being given, and kind words making tears appear.

I’m sure there are some who are inwardly grieving. They may have lost a mom, or may have lost a child. Yet, they smile every time they hear the words “Happy Mothers Day!”

Mothers are where we begin. Mothers house us while God is knitting us together. Mothers provide for us before they even know our needs or desires. Mothers love us before they ever experience us.

Mothers loose sleep. Mothers worry. Mothers cry. Mothers soothe. Mothers smile through pain. Mothers protect. Mothers encourage. Mothers empower. Mothers advise.

Mothers make mistakes. Mothers have regrets. Mothers fail.

Mothers start new every day. Mothers forgive and forget. Mothers never quit.

Mothers work. Mothers cook. Mothers clean. Mothers do laundry. Mothers fix things. Mothers find things. Mothers drive.

Mothers teach.

My mom worked full time. She got up every morning, got us kids ready, then went to work. She came home, cooked a quick and healthy dinner, answered fifty-million questions from us, then spent some quiet time with my dad before he went to bed, then spent time with us before we went to bed.

Today, I stand in awe of her faithfulness. She never seemed to waiver.

She loved us. Even when we drove her crazy, she loved us.

With all her seriousness, she is also hilarious. When frustration hit mom, she’d hit it back. One of my favorite stories. . .

My sister Stephanie was an infant. She had been up all night long, and mom had just gotten her to sleep. Suddenly, the rooster crowed. (Seriously, the rooster crowed!) Stephanie woke up and proceeded to wail again. Mom, being at her wits end, jumped up. Bounding into the bedroom, she grabbed daddy’s  shotgun. Boom!  She had shot the rooster! Turning to go back inside, she hears the shuddering crow again – she had killed the wrong rooster!

Even in frustration, momma made it funny!

She raised four kids. She worked full time. When she got home, she still worked full time. Even now, retired and all the kids grown, she still works full time – 

She’s a mom.

So, to my wonderful, faithful, beautiful, loving, encouraging, outrageous, silly, witty, wise, smart and dutiful momma – happy Mothers Day – I love you!

Salty Eyelashes

Tears in the night lead to salt covered eyelashes in the morning. The sunlight is still too much to bear.

My head aching, and my soul mimics.

Even in the light, the darkness surrounds. Crying out seems futile. My eyes close, deliberately. How long will it take? How many words will I have to stumble through in prayer before my soul lies at ease? When will this season be over? How many more roots will be tested and trimmed before I finally get to grow?

Breakfast then more prayer. Dear God, this is not fun. I do not like this place, I have visited it before and I swore to never return.

Communication only deepens the wound, and swirls the confusion that entangles this horrid place. I can’t breathe. I can’t think. I can’t hang on any longer.

Words on a page jump out at me. I am. A gift from others received just yesterday has already served it’s purpose. I Am.

“God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites:I AM has sent me to you.”(Exodus 3:14)

“God’s answer was, “I AM!” That is, ‘Moses, I’ll be whatever you need Me to be as you carry out my assignment. If you need miraculous signs in order to convince Pharaoh, then that is how I will express Myself. If you need Me to interrupt nature and part the waters of the Red Sea, then I will demonstrate Myself in that way. If you require food and water, then I will be your provider. If you are afraid, I’ll be your strength.’

“At the beginning of Moses’ walk with the Lord, Moses had no idea all that he would need God to do for him. Yet each time Moses faced a need, He learned something new about God. Moses came to realize that there was much more to God than a burning bush.”(quote from Experiencing God Day by Day)

He is my I am. He is the cool water that washes the dried salt from the endless tears. He is the peace that covers like a blanket during the storm. He is the light that shines even in the darkest hour. He is the guiding voice that directs me through the tangles of the forest of unrest. He is I am.

He finds me in my weakness, loves me in my sin. Knows me in my anger, and rejoices in my victory. He never leaves me, never forsakes me, never underestimates me. To him, I am everything.

Quite a Tale . . .

Jonah and the big fish.

A tale of disobedience.A tale of repentance.  A tale of redemption.

Approximate distance from Israel to Ninevah? 559.4 miles.

Approximate distance from North Carolina to Minnesota? 1,123 miles.

Judah and I had a rare moment the other morning. It was just the two of us riding in the van. No daddy, no siblings, and much to our surprise, no music. He had been gone all weekend with his aunts, and had arrived back late the night before. As we were riding, I hear his little voice, full of sadness, speak up.

“Mommy, why did J.P. move to Minnesota?”

It had been about a month since Judah’s best friend had moved to Minnesota. They had talked on the phone and chatted about sleepovers and playdates. Then, my wonderful friend and I had to explain distance. Neither Judah nor J.P. understood this concept of separation. It hurt my heart. How I missed both J.P. and his mom. She is my friend. She always had an encouraging word, or a warm (and much needed) hug to offer. I knew she prayed for me and my family. I knew she truly enjoyed our friendship. Now, she was all the way in Minnesota. Cold, snowy, much too far away Minnesota.

“Well, Judah, remember how we talked about how Ms. P. listened to God and obeyed what he said?”

“Yes.”

“Well, they had to go to Minnesota because that’s where God told them to go. They moved there for their family. Remember how we talked about Jonah and how God told him to go and he didn’t? He got in trouble with God and almost missed out on God’s good stuff. We don’t want Ms.P. to miss out on God’s good stuff do we?” (On a side note, please remember that he is 4, so explanations are very elementary.)

“Nooo. But, mommy, why did he have to tell them to go to Minnesota? It’s just so far away!”

My heart broke into tiny pieces. Yes, it is so far away. And, why did he send them there?

Obedience (dutiful or submissive behavior with respect to another person) is sometimes the hardest thing to do. God can call us to do all sorts of things. He can call us to move, to step out, to be vocal, to be silent, to be supportive, to preach, to teach, to sing, to travel, to do the one thing that might scare us to death. The thing is, he has a purpose in every call he makes.

Teaching Judah and J.P.’s classmates the reasoning behind his move has been quite an experience. I have always used the bible story of Jonah to teach what happens when we are disobedient, but never to teach boldness and obedience. To be honest, it’s not Jonah’s story that affirms these attributes, but it is Ms. P. that affirms it. . .

When God called, she answered. He already had it planned out. She trusted him and his plans, even when it meant leaving her comfort zone and stepping out into an unknown. Her undeniable faith paved the way for the blessings she is now reaping. She did not run. She did not involve people in disobedience.  She is not wallowing in a dark place. She is not complaining that God didn’t work the way she thought he should . . .

Minnesota is so very far away. J.P and Judah’s sleepover will have to be a planned vacation. Telephone calls, emails, and messages will have to be the hugs I miss.

But, I know that just as God gives us Jonah’s story to teach us repentance and redemption, Ms. P.’s story was given to me to teach obedience, faith and trust.