Embracing Psalm 51 as a Prayer for the Hard Work of Restoration

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and put a new and right[b] spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence,
    and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and sustain in me a willing[c] spirit.”  Psalm 51:10-12

Restoration is hard work. Several years ago, I discovered joy in restoring furniture. It began with a child’s rocking chair and continued with restoring my husband’s childhood desk. Perhaps the draw to the process lies in my passion to see beauty recovered. I envision the potential: both in furniture and people.

Restoration is hard work. It begins with sanding off the fragments of finish scattered about the surface. Hours of work result in me taking on the mess. My hands bear a rough texture; the furniture’s surface bears a smooth one. I am covered in sawdust; the piece is clean from the damp cloth brushed over it. As the wood dries, sweat drips from my brow.

Restoration is hard work. But I am motivated by holding the vision of what lies ahead. Eventually, knobs are replaced. Wood glue will be applied. A fresh coat of stain will cover the entire piece. A protective sheen completes the final touch. And new life commences.

Throwing the piece out was never an option. Because it carries a story. Restoration allows it to retell the story every time someone encounters it.

I am grateful for my God who is in the business of restoration. According to one definition, the Biblical meaning of restoration is:  “to receive back more than has been lost to the point where the final state is greater than the original condition. The main point is that someone or something is improved beyond measure.” (Newcalvarydeliverance.org)

Restoration is hard work. It’s the reason Jesus asks people, “Do you want to be made well?” before they are healed.

So I embrace Psalm 51as a prayer. May God sand, coat, and remind me of His protection in these times of needing to be made new. It’s part of recovering the beauty in my soul. Restoration is hard work but God willingly takes on the mess. He holds the vision of what lies ahead. May I sustain a willing spirit as the process ensues.

How are you in need of restoration?

This post is written for the Five Minute Friday Writing Community. Come join us! http://fiveminutefriday.com/

 

 

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God Wants Us to Speak Our Dreams and Prepare for Flight

It takes courage to speak your dream.

Last weekend, my family ventured to the Smithsonian Museum.  To say that our senses were overloaded is an understatement. Often, a museum is viewed as a place holding objects connecting us to the past. And while that that connection is significant, these objects can also influence the future. Many of these items represent dreams; both those that achieved public status and those that reached fruition in a quieter manner. Regardless, who knows how our own lives are impacted by individuals from the past fighting for the realization of visions they saw from afar?

One can only imagine the reactions the Wright brothers received when declaring to others they envisioned a machine that allowed people to fly over the earth. Yet, before my eyes, lay the original plane they created. Their voices speak from the work of their hands.

And who could have ever imagined that a rocket could carry people into the majestic space that had once only been admired long distance? The details and skills that  would go into imagining such a feat seem incomprehensible.

It takes humility to speak your dream.

As I gazed upon images of Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders, I was reminded that we may not see the fruition in our lifetime. But that doesn’t prevent our dreams from taking flight.  We keep our eyes focused in the direction of the destination while we fly. If it’s God who put the dream on our hearts, others will recognize their role in keeping it moving.

It takes trust to speak our dreams.

Sometimes, we run into turbulence while we fly toward the dream. At those moments, we trust that God has not let go of us. We are not on this ride alone. Shaking may leave us feeling hesitant to keep pursuing where God is leading. But we must hold on tight.

Dreaming demands courage, surrender, and trust for God to carry us in the flight into uncomfortable places.  Risk is guaranteed. But the alternative is to miss out on bearing witness to the amazing character of God in whose image we reflect. The One who shapes our dreams.

Our visit to the Smithsonian seemed particularly fitting as we celebrated my daughter’s high school graduation. How can you not be inspired to reach towards big dreams when you are reminded how big God is?

“Oh, Lord GOD! You have made the heavens and earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You!” Jeremiah 32:17.

This post is written for the Five Minute Friday Writing Community. Come join us! http://fiveminutefriday.com/

 

 

 

 

Healing Laughter

As I awoke on a sunny spring day in May, my mind felt cluttered. Deadlines loomed for my daughter’s home school materials to be completed in time for graduation. Paperwork still needed to be completed for submission to two different colleges. My father’s health issues demanded my attention and energy. Of course, the day to day tasks of shopping, phone calls, and trying to carve out moments for myself and the rest of my family vied for a place in my agenda.

I felt overwhelmed. My energy felt zapped.

I prepared for work. On the one hand, I looked forward to engaging with the students in the classroom where I would be substitute teaching. Yet, I wondered how I would be able to focus on the tasks of the day when the concerns of my mind seemed so pressing.

I said a quick prayer asking for peace “that passes all understanding” as I headed toward the school. I anticipated that, at some point, peace would wash over me. Traditionally, when I remind myself that God is in control, I am relieved of the tension that grips my body. Yet, in my humanity, I wondered if I could really trust God to come through again.  Read more here:  https://www.redbudwritersguild.com/healing-laughter/

Returning Home But Realizing That Something Has Changed

We returned to the same house we left. But something had changed. Not worse. Not better. Different.

For two of us, our home was more than a place that rooted our family. It was also a school. For six years, my daughter and I entered a daily routine at the dining room table.  At first, the roles of student and teacher pushed to find their identity. There were days when it would have been easier to surrender and resort back to the roles as simply mother and daughter. But truthfully, those identities are never one dimensional. Parenting always involves an element of teaching…..and learning.

So we forged our way; some days easier than others. Seasons of Illness, burnout, and unexpected crises presented themselves. Sometimes, the material challenged me. Together, we navigated through that which appeared incomprehensible. We learned much about persisting through difficulties while finding your own way through them.

At times, our home felt claustrophobic. In the midst of the quiet surrounding us, I longed for opportunities to engage with other adults. To follow paths that beckoned me with possibilities of fulfilling longed for dreams. But I remembered the reason my husband and I had decided to home school my daughter. We wanted her to embrace learning about the world God created. We desired that she recognize she possesses a unique purpose that is defined by her Creator; not human standards. Home schooling her was God’s answer for our us.

On Saturday, I watched her graduate.  Her home school academy holds an official graduation ceremony. Our whole family watched her achieve this milestone. Tears streamed as I realized the vision that I saw from far away was fulfilled. The reality penetrated my senses.

We did it.

So we returned home yesterday. The same house we left. But something has changed.

For two of us, it’s the place where new dreams are being formed.

This post was written for the Five Minute Friday Community. Come join us! http://fiveminutefriday.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why We Must Take Time to Pause

Recently, God has been speaking to me about the discipline of “pause.”

Truthfully, the word had been breathed into my ears in the past. Last year, I declared “pause” as my “word” for the year. My response mechanisms had operated in an auto-pilot mode which left a wedge in familial relationships. My desire to find fulfillment in writing and friendships came at a cost. My family felt neglected.

Watching television shows and engaging in conversations which held little interest to me became easy opportunities to delve into my own interests. I realized that what appears to fulfill us can be deceiving. Even if it’s something that produces fruit.

But, just like plants, the production of fruit will cease if proper care is not given to nourish and replenish the life giving nutrients in the soil.

Sacrificing productivity can be hard. It often becomes the source of identity and motivates us to keep doing what’s necessary to maintain it.

Surrender to God demands trust that God sees what we cannot. It demands a desire to be shaped more in God’s likeness.

It requires pause.

Even Jesus did that.

So here I am again hearing “pause” whispered in my ear. This time it’s for a different reason. Nonetheless, it’s time to nourish and replenish the nutrients in my soul.

This post is written for the Five Minute Friday Community. Come join us! http://fiveminutefriday.com/

Guest Post: Mark’s of a Disciple: Allegiance to Christ’s Compelling Leadership.

What Esther Teaches us About Releasing Our Secrets

Secrets. They have the potential to imprison or liberate.

Regardless of the reasons for taking root, they can overwhelm the soul. Yet, their presence becomes familiar. The presumed risk in freeing them becomes too great.

So we let them continue to have their place.

But there comes the paradox.  The liberation is not found in hiding. It’s found in the revealing.

“But Esther had kept secret her family background and nationality just as Mordecai had told her to do, for she continued to follow Mordecai’s instructions as she had done when he was bringing her up.” (Esther 2:20).

She knew the implications if she revealed her true identity: death to her people.

She knew the implications if she didn’t reveal her true identity: death to her people.

 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

The time had come to trust God. Completely.

Secrets deceive us. Hiding traps. Revelation releases.

Jesus redeems.

How can your secret become an opportunity to speak life into someone?

Had Esther not accessed the courage already given to her, she would not have brought restoration to her people. Or anyone else.

What secrets are keeping you in bondage to fear? Speak up. Let God pull them out by their roots. God wants to transform them into something beautiful.

This post was written for the Five Minute Friday Community. Come join us! http://fiveminutefriday.com/