Thursday, April 25, 2013

Be still

Oh, day of rest, 
How beautiful, how fair! 

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Today I long for green- cucumbers and spinach leaves to feed the body, and  slender blades of grass to feed my soul. Oh, to lay in a clover green meadow and breathe in the breeze, the sky, the voice quietly whispering my name. 

What is stopping me? The urge is strong, yet I work, still. I push through to gain a prize whose name I do not know. The whisper beckons me out into mid- morning. Persistently. I stop working and take off shoes and socks, stepping onto  the grassy slope behind our home. 

The ground is cool, as I knew it would be; verdant, and pliable, warming to my touch. I lean back, relaxing, supported by soft spikes. I feel the breeze and hear a gentle song lilt from the shadow of wings. Pages flap and I wonder:  Why is it so hard to be still?

I stay, cloaked in green, while my eyes adjust to the light. In the distance, cars hum, people rushing through busy lives- and still I wonder. When did I forget to let in that which feeds my soul? 
I've been separated from the peace of this place by the whirl of life. While trying to catch my breath, I forgot what it is to breathe deep. 

Sleepless nights and sick kids may deplete the body, but it is this busy-ness that steals true rest. Now, the habit of getting out into creation takes determination and self discipline. So I sit, and I breathe, and I rest.

 A lady bug glides across wildflowers that sprung up in my absence. Clouds silently swirl across a pure blue expanse. They know how to be silent, to keep pace with time peacefully, without hurry. 

When I've been rubbed raw by life's sanding, I realize I am still learning to rest in the One who sustains and holds, comforting me through rough patches. It is equally important to draw apart when days are filled with activity and the good work of life. To make a habit of being filled with living water before I am run dry with thirst.

I now recognize soul-thirst, and so I stay, drinking in the wildness that has swept down this hill. Luxuriating in birdsong and inviting the breeze to dance on my cheeks, twirling my hair, drawing me into radiant goodness. Dandelions sway, fuzzy tops nodding in agreement to be silent before the Creative One.  I drink deep of  beauty and peace until I am satiated with healing wind and soothing grasses.

Grace floods my soul, simply because I obeyed that still quiet voice that beckoned me to the place of wellness.  I am refreshed, washed in gratitude. In awe of the One who crafted greens and blues and softness and joy which restores my soul. This is healing in it's simplest form.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Overcoming Anxiety

My son has test anxiety, and it can be pretty intense. With all the stress and struggle and extra homework surrounding the STAAR testing here in Texas, we've been dealing with a lot of apprehension and dread. Our weekend devotions focused on giving God all our fears, and learning to hear his voice calming our hearts. We read Jeremiah 29:11-12. Verse eleven is well known, but I really love the perspective verses twelve and thirteen bring.

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that. 12 At that time, you will call out for Me, and I will hear. You will pray, and I will listen. 13 You will look for Me intently, and you will find Me when you seek me with all your heart.

I shared with the boys that when I am worried, I close my eyes and remember that he is there to help me. Then I picture placing my concerns in God's big hands, one by one. We prayed this morning before school, again asking God to calm our hearts, to help us to remain focused and at rest in Him.

There are some days when the battle for peace of mind is fought moment by moment, over and over. I tend to wage the war through prayer, so as I exercised this morning, I prayed scripture over Tyler and Blaine, and our friends and family who I know are also distressed over the testing- each by name. I also asked God to help me in my own battle with anxiety.

First, Psalm 121- "I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from?" My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth."

Then, Psalm 94:19 "When anxiety overtakes me and worries are many,your comfort lightens my soul." (The Voice Translation)

And Finally Psalm 18, which holds a wealth of truth to calm an anxious mother's heart:

 I love you, O Lord, my strength. My God is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, in whom I take refuge,my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. (Verses 1-3)

Our enemy seeks to consume us with worry- to keep us shackled to fear, overwhelmed, so we forget to reach for the one who sets us free. When the battle is of the mind, God's promises are like the horn which sounds the call to battle- and the alert that support is at hand. He is our protector, the one who saves us from the snares of the enemy

The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. In my distress I called to the Lord;I cried to my God for help, and from his temple he heard my voice. (Psalm 18: 4- 6)

Worry and fear can be like cords of death, yet if we can remember to call for God's help, he hears and teaches us how to really let go and rely on him. I find that focusing on truth helps, as does the mental image of envisioning whatever I am holding on to, and placing every fear in his hands.

He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them...He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of the raging waters.

He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18: 14,16, 19)

 He delights in me!  His heart is to walk in close communion with me, soothing me, holding me through the difficult places. No matter what happens, He is with me- and my children. All we have to do is invite him into every moment. I can worry over what I cannot control, or I can release even the worst case scenario to God, trusting that his plans and purposes are what's best for me, and for the ones I love- for He loves them SO much more than I can imagine!

My experience is that God can take what seems terrible, and even tragic, and transform it into something beautiful. Do I really believe that his purposes are for peace, and wholeness and wellness? Do I trust in his plans and purposes for my kids, even when that means they have to face difficulties? 

Hard questions. I'd really like to protect them from every struggle. But truly, life in this imperfect world has its challenges- and its losses. As hard as it is, I have to let them learn in their own way. I have to release them, allow them to find God in ways that are meaningful to them. My prayer is that my children will learn how to lean into him, and I am realizing that these places of frustration and struggle will help them deal with adversity in life later on. The good news is that just as God relentlessly pursues my heart, he also speaks to my children. I know that even now, in the midst of a difficult day, he is whispering love and comfort to them. Inviting them to draw near, to lean into him and find that He longs to be their refuge and strength, to know that He is their very present help troubling times. (Psalm 46:1)    

So as I seek to release those I hold most dear, I choose, again, to make trust an hourly choice. To release the illusion of control, to lay down every fear- even the "worst that could happen". I make the words of Psalm 18 personal:

With God's help, I can conquer an army,
with my God I can leap over walls, 
His ways are perfect; the promise of the Eternal rings true; He stands as a shield for all who take refuge in Him!

For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God? 
 It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.
(Psalm 18: 29-32)

And He is who we truly need, in every season.

~Just Me