Be Still

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As I view this photo, it takes me back to the chilly fall day I had taken my daughters to Guadalupe River State Park.  It was too cold to swim that day, but in my mind’s eye, I crawled over the gnarled tree roots as I had done many times before.  Carefully and slowly I made my way to the water.

I was barefoot and anticipated first touch of the water on my bare toes. They tingled as I slid my foot into the water, big toe first testing the temperature.  It was cool against my skin. I placed both feet into the bubbling, gurgling river as the water fully surrounded me. Making room for me. Welcoming me.  My feet sank slowly into the sandy, murky mud that enveloped my feet completely.  They have disappeared into the bed of the river. Every now and then, if I wiggle my toes, they reappear above the mud.

Small minnows ,dart to and fro, between my legs, tickling me with their tiny bodies as they search for their next meal.

Water, aimlessly floats and meanders lazily, as I bask in the sunshine not wanting the quiet solace to end.

I am overwhelmed by the many colors that my eyes behold. I am thankful as my senses are fully ignited by the beauty surrounding me, engulfing me, protecting me, shielding me. I am relaxed in the beauty of God’s creation.

I am still before Him. I know that He is God.

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Life Preserver

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“Those who guard their lips, preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3

This verse gave me such a mental picture!  I saw a person flailing and splashing about in the water. Screaming and yelling, though I am not sure if it was out of fear or anger. Fear of being alone. Fear of past or present. Fear and anger that nothing ever done is good enough. Fear that the kids won’t succeed. Fear that always keep friends pushed away, because we don’t want them to see the evil in our hearts. Or just because we are sinful, hurt people.  Fear consumes.

Regardless of the craziness, the first part of the verse, “those who guard their lips, preserve their lives.” struck me with full force.

Our words build up, encourage, tear down and hurt all out of the same mouth.

The latter part of the verse talks about bringing ruin. Not just ruin for us, but also for those around us.  This was a painful blog to write about, because of this very thing I am guilty. Perhaps this is the reason I was led to write these words?

I have a challenge. Let’s watch the faces of those we love, crumple as we speak loudly and rudely.  Let’s watch as they shine and sparkle as we encourage them. Let us see their hearts fly as we encourage them. Or, see them chained to the pain as we yell mercilessly.

I want to be a life-preserver. Not one who brings ruin.

Join me!

The Bad Place

The Bad Place

My husband and I were missionaries in Africa early 2000-2003.  We were so excited to plan a rafting adventure!  Rather, he excitedly planned a rafting trip on the Nile River, while I was leery and fearful! I nearly drowned as a child, so it was natural apprehension.  Being the good wife, I put a frightened smile on my face and off we went.

Typical, well-balanced rafts, carry 8 or more people.  Our raft, including the guide, carried 5.  Should that have been an indication of our day???  It wasn’t as if we could say, “We’ll wait and do it another day” as we had flown from Kenya to Uganda!   We were at an extreme disadvantage with that, and that none of the four passengers had ever been rafting before.

img_6108With trepidation I carefully put my helmet on and tightened my life jacket.  It was so tight for safety reasons, it was really hard to breathe.  I felt trapped.  We paddled for a few minutes to practice.  He taught us how to hold onto the oar and the raft if we flipped, and how to climb back in the boat.  In calm water, that is much easier to do! He called different terms like the obvious, “ROW HARDER!” and “GET DOWN!” (I excelled at the latter!)  That was one he called most frequently because that meant we were either going to flip, or go into the rapid and come out properly in the boat on the other side,  and he was trying to keep us safe.  Did you know that guides have done this so often, they know if you are going to make it through the rapid or not?  Did you know that they will flip you for your own safety? No.  Me either.

So out of our 8 hour Nile River rafting adventure, we flipped 5 out of 10 times.  Wait.  He flipped us 5 out of 10 times.  We made it through the level 2 & 3 rapids, but not the level  4’s or 5’s.  Also unknown to me, because I was not aware much of the time being separimg_6109-1ated from the boat, and being rescued and brought back to the boat by my own personal kayak-er rescuer,  that there were Nile Crocodiles on the banks as I sailed by crying and peeing my pants as my life passed before my eyes. I was also hit by branches and had red ants on my life jacket and in my hair. (On a good note, though I was unable to hold on to the raft, I did hold on to my paddle!)

At the end our long journey, there was one more optional level 6 rapid. Saved for the risk taking, professionals!  It was called The Bad Place.  I can hear you saying, “Don’t do it! Tara! Don’t do it!”  That  was what my heart and mind were saying as well! Believe me!   One of the men said, “Man, I am not doing that!  No way!”  “I am going to sit this out!”  It came down to me.  Sammy and the other guy were game so I had a decision to make. Quit, or hit this rapid head on, knowing full well we weren’t going to make it through.  I can honestly say that I had tears of fear dripping down my sun-blocked, sunburned cheeks. Not all weepy boohoo, just plain old fright, panic, horror and dread!   My comment, which made my husband beam with pride was, “I didn’t come this far to quit. Let’s go.”

the-bad-placeWe got into the raft and as soon as we sat down, he pushed us off and yelled, “GET DOWN!”  it was at that moment, I let go of my paddle because I was already under water.  I was tossed, turned, scared and tumbling like a towel in a washing machine!  I thought I was going to die.  I couldn’t get to the surface. I couldn’t see the surface! Twisting, whirling, spiraling out of control, until I finally, I reached the end of the rapid.  Sammy apparently was still under water, but popped up soon after I did and was already at the bank down river a bit smiling. I on the other hand, was breathless, hyperventilating and crying.  I saw just a hand reached out saying, “I got you. You are ok.” One of my fellow rafters was there to help me out of the water.

Sammy and I walked up the hill with his arms around me.  He said something like, “that was fun.” Or, “I am so proud of you!” or both.  We arrived at the top of the hill, after a long day, to an awaiting celebration feast.  In my heart I thanked God for my survival.

I can say with pride, “I Rafted The Nile River!”

Life is like rafting that river sometimes isn’t it? We are rafting along smoothly enjoying the ride,  until He being the guide,  sees things that we can’t and protects us by flipping our boat. Or circumstances like the life jacket, tiny red ants, or branches smacking or biting us, cause us great discomfort and pain.  We begin flailing and tumbling in the rapids of life, and forget that God is always there.

He sends friends to give us a hand. He sends a way for us to get back in the boat.  He never leaves us alone. Psalm 138:3 says, ” On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.”  He hears us when we call. He gives us strength.
He equips us for  “The Bad Places” in life and gives us the courage to go through them, even though we know going in, it is going to be hard and scary.  Yet, we are able to say, “I didn’t come this far to quit.”

Lord, be with my friends who may be going into, or are already in The Bad Place. Please protect each one and bring them safely out the other side.

In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Heart under construction.

imageGod has been truly working on my heart. it has been under construction.

My voice to the kids is acidic, and hurtful at times. I would like to blame it on them but I am responsible for the actions and words of my mouth. This week I’ve been reading in Proverbs.

Proverbs 12:16 it says,  “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” Regardless of what they do, I am responsible for what comes out of my mouth, and how I say it. That’s confirmed two verses later in Proverbs 12:18 “The words of the reckless pierced like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” I certainly do not want to pierce my children with my words, I would much rather bring healing. So why did they frustrate me so? It probably boils down to selfishness. They don’t act like I want them to act. They don’t act how I expect them to act. Yet I have to train them to behave properly. To be a functioning and productive member of society and show self-control.
Newsflash! They are kids. Kids do dumb stuff. Kids get into fights. Kids do great things. Kids help when they’re asked. It’s just the balance of the way I view them. Therein lies my problem. I need to view them as a gift more often rather than I view them with frustration. I need to show love and patience, rather than my first response being sharp like a sword piercing them.

Psalm 85:10-13 “Love and faithfulness meet together; Righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good and our land will yield its harvest. Righteousness goes before him; and prepares the way for his steps.”

Now that’s what I’m talking about! I would rather have love and faithfulness meeting together, but see, it starts with me. Not them. Me. He is faithful to work through me and I need to yield do that part of me to Him on a daily or hourly basis (minutes or seconds in reality sometimes).

I paint a rather icky picture of myself here perhaps because of what I know is on the inside of me. Parenting isn’t easy. It definitely can refine us as people.

The truth of the matter is, I want my kids to love one another. I don’t want damaged relationships, though I realize that is out of my control. I want to share from what I have seen and experienced so they don’t have to go through things I went through. Yet, just as I chose my path, they also must choose theirs.

I need to equip them for life and what lies ahead. In doing that with a relationship with God, a blanket of peace and arms full of love, they will succeed. They are God’s children. On loan to my husband and I. A lofty task, yet a worthy one.

Lord, may We today be the moms you have asked us to be. Help us to love without fear, teach without anger and be a peacemaker rather than a peace-breaker.
In the name of Jesus we pray.

Amen

You can do this friend!

Let Your Mercy Wash Over Me

Let Your Mercy Wash Over Me.

By: Tara Young

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Let your mercy flow like a river run

Washing over me.

Let the ebb and flow of this sinful life

Wash away from me.

Send your spirit Lord to fill my heart with joy.

In your mercy Lord wash me white as snow.

Let your mercy flow

Let your love change me                                               

Let your light shine down

Let your hope fill me

Let your joy overflow

Let your peace abound.

Let your fire burn.

Let forgiveness fall.

Let your mercy wash over me.

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