Monday, August 16, 2010

A Verse

Proverbs 17:27
"A man of knowledge uses WORDS with RESTRAINT,
and a man of understanding is

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Nudges and Shoves

Do you ever get those little nudges? You know, you feel compelled to do or not to do something. To ask someone how they’re doing with sincerity even though they seem just fine and their face changes and a whole story unloads. Or to stay at home this time and it turns out that one of your kids really needed you. Or to go ahead and text so and so even if you have nothing to say but, “Thinking of you for no reason at all” and it turns out they really needed you in that moment.

And then there’s those enormous convictions that more feel like a friendly shove. Like when you need to speak up to encourage. Or do the courageous act of embracing someone who is totally broken even if you just met them. Or talking to a stranger who just might be completely desperate for a friend. Or actually being the change you want to see in this crazy world by living a different kind of life by the divine power that’s bigger than you.

I get those nudges and shoves. Daily. Probably hourly. Even right now, writing this, I am compelled by something…other…as I write this. And I can only describe it as a heart pumping nudge, keeping me awake and aware to a particular leading, a particular compelling goal. And I must follow, I want to follow, in my deepest desire.

I’m starting to really believe, and not just glaze over, the fact that I’ve got a Counselor following me around. And it’s not just him when I get my heart shoved. It’s also a lot of the little nudges. They’re not just happenstance. Many of them are him. Like everything, I am a tainted girl. I’ve got my sinful lenses and I’ve got my spirit lenses so I am not perfect at discerning what is him, what is common sense, what is just a random idea and what my pastor would say was the burrito I ate the night before. But all I know is that he created me. I am a creation. Who is known. He has searched me and known me. He knows when I sit and when I rise. He perceives my thoughts from way out in my mind. He discerns my going out and when I lie down. He is familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, he knows it completely (psalm 139). And since he created me and knows me, everything that I do that pleases him has been set about by his work, because I am his workmanship. So I need to give all credit to him for the good counsel that pops in my mind, even in the little things.

You see lately I have been feeling a little tug. And for a long time I’ve thought, this is ridiculous. This is so silly that I keep feeling like I need to listen to this minute meaningless unimportant conviction. And even writing this I am a nervous wreck that someone is actually going to hold me accountable since I actually have a community of godly people out there. But I have had some health issues lately and I keep feeling very clear conviction, as I have for a looong time, to not drink so much coffee and other beverages outside of just dousing my body with water. And I would really like to think that this is a silly idea and go on with my absolutely satisfying morning addiction…however, I have had interesting little guilty thoughts before and during that sweet cup of bliss that have felt super similar to other moments when I choose to think thoughts or go through with actions that I am sure are unpleasing to the Lord. I know this is him. In a nudge. Helping me.

In fact, in all honesty and ridiculousness of the moment, I am actually DRINKING COFFEE RIGHT NOW. Okay it’s confessed. I am a hypocrite. It’s true and it feels completely helpful to say it in writing. But truly I had decided to start my fast tomorrow and enjoy my last cup right now before I go through my painful one week of detox. I know he is nudging me, helping me in this area and I need to YIELD, finally!

I had similar strange food convictions all during my pregnancy with the girls. I cannot even capture on paper how challenging and frustrating those 21 weeks of pregnancy were, trying to eat something…anything. I could not keep food down. I’m not the best at reading every book on the block when it comes to “how to” or __ for dummies, etc. I just ask other people and look up things here and there on the internet and kind of wing it. And I found the Holy Spirit himself in those times giving me random nudges that helped me and then later I would come across some reading or hear from another woman that you should avoid x food or try to eat x and I was so grateful. I felt like someone had counseled me on something I didn’t know to discern on my own.

Not ironically, I literally just stopped writing this post because an old friend from church was here in the coffee shop and got up to leave so I saw her. We got to talking and the nudge to my heart was to ask her about community. Seemed harmless and easy so I responded to the “idea” and it hit a button with her that took us through a long conversation about missing home and the risks involved with giving yourself away to messy community. And we had a great talk and at the end she said this was just what she needed to hear. Now, I can count that as credit to my amazing capability to pinpoint someone’s heart…(ha!) or I can count it as a good gift of the faithful Counselor, who is always directing my steps, bringing himself into every interaction in my life for his glory. I count that conversation as a sweet gift to my day and hers, thanking God for that little nudge to ask such a little thing. Because it led to big things.

I got an email from a friend the other day and her statement sparked my brain on this post and got me going down the tracks. She was writing our bible study about her “evidence of God’s grace” for the week (as we all do weekly, as we pay attention to the work God is doing in our lives). She was looking for an important document and had already been through one pile of papers and was about to shred them when she really felt compelled to look once more. She found what she really needed and was so thankful for that nudge and counted it an evidence of God’s grace.

I know some people count it as luck or count it to their wisdom, but should we be so quick to discount a counselor, a designer, a Spirit just because it’s a little thing?

Maybe some people think this is all ridiculous. That’s fine. I’ve been learning to not demand people learn exactly what I am learning at exactly the same time. But as for me, I feel like that sparrow in Matthew 10. God says there that not one sparrow will fall to the ground apart from his will. And then says, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

The little things are not silly. He is here even in these things. He is for me. He is the Great Shepherd who carries me forever (Psalm 28:9).

And I am worth more than a sparrow to him.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Favorite posts on Small Belle Speaks #6

Post title: The Hardest Thing (posted 12-8-08)

When it’s all over and we all stand up, I know what my heart is supposed to be doing. There is just a lot going on to keep me sitting lazy. Lines form in the rows as one at a time sliced bread is dipped into either wine or juice. Children enter the room twirling and doing knee bounces to the music. I look over at my love. Head bowed. Hand on my knee. Other hand on his forehead. I turn my head down and start blocking. My to do list thoughts. My chair being knocked by the family behind me. The singing that has started around me. Though it is my favorite song, I have much to say to the Lord. I need to say it. I need to lean in. My thoughts resist. Even trite thoughts and make believe prayers fill my mind. I end them to start real life ones. The conversation feels hard. But I need to do the right thing in this moment even though it is a hard thing.

Last Tuesday as the usual group lit into a conversation about raising children, what she said struck a bell with me. Sometimes it takes up her whole morning to discipline one thing and those hours are gone, but she didn’t let the thing – whatever it was – slide. She let it take up her morning to deal with it. This was her love for her child.

I had already been thinking about this lately. That the right thing to do in my life is very often the hardest thing for me to do. Rarely does doing the right thing or the obedient thing or the selfless thing feel easy. It’s a pulling and a fighting and a submission hold of the flesh.

My daughter didn’t want to eat lunch today, like most days. Her boney legs dangled from her booster seat. She ate some after doddling a while and then finally got a bite too big and threw up the entire meal. At dinner we did all we knew to do to get her to eat. Act like ridiculous ADHD cheerleaders for every single bite. Probably like twenty seven of them. And every bite was followed by our bright eyes, as we wildly slapped her hands over and over and threw her arms up in the air multiple times. You could see she thought of quitting numerous times. But then she’d see my eyes start to light up. She’d prep her lips, clear out her mouth – as is her usual habit before each bite – and open up wide, looking at us expectantly. She finished that container. Bite by bite. Cheer by cheer. And we wanted to collapse at the end of that darn meal. But she’d eaten. One container of yogurt. And our hearts triumphed. It wasn’t the easy thing. But it was the right thing. And I knew it was how we could love her through her stressful trial of mealtime.

I feel this pushing to do the right thing all the time. And it feels awful, how difficult it seems to choose that, but nonetheless the challenge towards it comes again and again. When I am writing a friend an email reply and know they don’t need to just hear “I’m praying” but instead need to know if there is any encouragement or counsel from my heart. When my husband and I cannot seem to get our thoughts to overlap in harmony and it takes hours of talking to wind our hearts together. When the girls disobey for the thirtieth time that day and I choose not to ignore but again and again go to teach and discipline so that their hearts understand what is right and good. When I have wronged someone and I feel that maybe they would just overlook it or maybe they have even already forgotten it, but I know in my heart of hearts that I am called to confess and reconcile with them. When someone insults me, to overlook their words and do the work of seeing their pain and misery under the conversation so that I can absorb the blows. When I would rather “get something done” but little beauty girl is saying “up” and handing me books.

I don’t want to do the lazy thing. As I “sit there” and all of the distractions and wills of life call around me for my attention, I know it will be difficult to bend my knee and bow my head to die to myself. To block the thoughts that becon me to be about myself. And to say and do the things that the Spirit in me is requiring me to do. In those moments, I want to put my will in a submission hold until it passes out and does the right thing. Even though usually it’s the hardest thing.