Monday, February 27, 2012

Dreams vs. Reality

The cobwebs of sleep were still covering my brain as I settled on the couch with my coffee cup, my blanket and Bible. I pushed the troubling dream out of my head and started to read.

It was a re-occurring type of dream that had plagued me for weeks about a month ago. The type that is just believable enough to stay with me throughout the day. The type that drags me down with questions that can't be answered. I'd taken it to the Lord, searched my heart, begged Him to take it away, and finally it had stopped.

And now it was back for two nights in a row. The details weren't the same every time, but it left the same blanket of doubt and discontent as always. Feelings I had dealt with and overcome in my waking hours were coming back to haunt me in my subconscious.

"It's not fair!" I complained to God, mechanically copying out a verse to meditate on throughout the day. "These thoughts get to take residence in my head without my permission. I don't even get a chance to try to say no when it's in my dream!"

I continued to doodle in my journal, darkening key words, accentuating the curves and sweeping lines.

And then, for the first time, I read the verse that I had chosen to meditate on. Obviously, I'd read it before, but this time I read it with my mind awake.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong, take heart and wait for the Lord.

"I can be so dumb sometimes." I almost laughed out loud.

A slap in the face has never been so comforting in my life, shaking off the blanket of doubt and discontent and finally waking me up from my bad dream.

I don't know what He's trying to teach me, or what the purpose for this test is, but "I remain confident of this..."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Better is burnout?

I woke this morning to the gentle buzz-buzz of my cell-phone alarm. Nothing out of the ordinary. Turning it off I laid there, not wanting to get up and not having enough time to press the snooze option again.

Half asleep, I turned my attention to the Lord.

"Thank you for this verge of exhaustion. I love it. I love knowing that I rely on Your strength to get me out of bed in the morning."

Not five minutes later as I was up and about, (and much more awake) I remembered what I had prayed.

Really? "Thank you for exhaustion?" Merrie, that doesn't sound like a wise thing to say. What if the Lord decides to send even more of it your way, just because you told Him you liked it?

Before I had completely berated myself, a verse popped into my head reminding me why I was grateful for it.

"Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked."

When I have nothing else, when I've drained every last ounce of energy, when I've exhausted my store of endurance - then I am left in a place where I find Him waiting. Waiting to reach out and take my hand, waiting to carry me, to sustain, comfort and heal me.

Better is one day in that place than a thousand elsewhere.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Just how big is big?

It was that age old conversation, that argument we all had as kids, spreading out our arms as far as they could reach to describe just how much bigger our dad was than the neighbor kid's dad. The one where they would touch a point on the driveway and run all the way across saying, "My dad is thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiisss big." and we would respond, "Well my dad is bigger!"

Yeah, that.

I had that same conversation the other morning. I watched the sunrise. I sat at the edge of the ocean, my toes buried in the sand. I watched the waves come rolling in, one after another, no two the same. I lifted up my face to be warmed by the sunshine, my heart dancing for joy.

After awhile my brother came back from surfing, followed by our friend. We all three sat the edge of the ocean and conversation flowed.

"You know they say that ninety-five percent of the ocean remains unexplored?"

The appropriate "Wow's" were given and then we were quiet, contemplating just exactly how big "big" is.

Then it happened.

"Remember when we were kids, the whole, 'My dad is thiiiis big' thing?" I asked, running back and forth in the sand to emphasize my point.

"Yeah?"

"I feel like a kid, saying this, but..." And reaching my arms toward the ocean, "My God is bigger!!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Starbucks and Rain

"Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands."

That's the verse that jumped out at me while I was sitting in the coffee shop, watching the rain come down. *(not the same coffee trip as the picture)

It meant something to me especially. I've tasted and seen the goodness of God first-hand over and over during my short lifetime. I've been incredibly blessed. I've been challenged and inspired to share His goodness to me, to "praise You as long as I live" and I've been discouraged from continuing to do it.

I witnessed God's powerful and loving hand in my life just yesterday. You know the verse where Jesus says, "Your Father knows what you need before you ask." when He's teaching us to pray? Well it's true.

It was when I was sharing the story with my family that my sister challenged me again.

"Merrie, people are encouraged by you telling what God is doing in your life."

I don't know if that's true or not, but I know that I am encouraged when I tell what God is doing in my life, when I stop to think, and recognize His hand and His goodness. And because of that, because His love is better than life, my lips will glorify Him. I will praise Him as long as I live.



Friday, February 10, 2012

Those promises.

My life right now consists of working 40+ hours a week at my job, trying to keep up with the lives of my 20 immediate family members, eating healthy when I can manage it, exercising when I motivate myself to, and sleeping at least 8 hours each night. Keeping up with my friends and finding time to invest in their lives kinda fills up any other minutes that are left, and that's just the week days.

Figuring out any sort of balance took me a long time, and lately routine has become my best friend.

I have three different morning routines. One where I get up at 5:30, giving me time to make a good breakfast, spend time in the Word and linger with my blanket and my mug watching the sunrise before leaving at 6:30 to ride a bike to work.

My second routine looks more like, up at 6:30, shower, coffee, bible, sunrise, dressed and out the door by 7:30 to drive to work.

But the last one is where I find myself defaulting to more often than not. Up at 7:20, throw together an outfit suitable for work, grab something eatable and get out the door by 7:45 to get to work.

This morning, in the middle of that routine I checked my phone to find a message from a friend.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me She wrote. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

I love that verse. I especially love that, "No one will snatch them out of my hand" bit. It's one of "those promises". The ones that I remember and cling to when my faith is so small.

It got me thinking - as I drove to work - about those promises, as I mentally stored it in my treasure box for a time when I needed it. And it got me thinking about being in that place where a promise is all I can see, and it's keeping me alive.

I found myself wishing I were in that place this morning.

I realized that I'd rather be clinging to that life preserver in a huge ocean than slowly, comfortably and unknowingly drowning in a lukewarm bathtub that I filled up myself.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Reminders.

Ahh.. In bed by 9:30. Right on target, and perfect for getting up at 5:30.

Sniffles came from the bunk below me, followed by whimpers, more sniffles and soon a deluge of tears.

And back out of bed.

"Guess what?" I asked my baby sister, the seven year old who is wise beyond her years some days.

"Whaaaa *sniff* at?"

"I love you."

"I loove yo *hiccup* ou too!"

The whimpers were turning into wails as she thrashed around in her bed, her mind working through those problems that were affecting her so deeply.

"Hey. Shh... What's wrong?"

"Everythiing!" She wailed, rolling over and burying her head in the pillow.

"Well try to focus on the things that are right, and you'll feel a lot better!" was my sage piece of advice.

"I caaan't!"

I rolled my eyes, quickly losing my patience. This wasn't a quick fix that a hug-and-a-kiss would solve. There were deeper issues going on - the kind I wasn't inclined to deal with. My bed was beckoning, but so was my little sister. No matter how it looked to me, I had to realize that whatever was bothering her was very real and unsolvable in that moment.

I gasped, grabbing her legs through the covers. "Oh my goodness, what is this?!"

She quieted down to see what I was talking about, "What do you mean?"

"What are these things under your blanket that are moving around!?"

It was her turn to roll her eyes at her dumb older sister. "Those are my feet."

"What!?" I said, in pretend shock. "You have two of them!?"

"Everybody does."

Another younger sister piped up from her bed across the room, "Nick Vujicic doesn't"

All the sisters joined in at that point, telling the littlest all the things that were "right" - a bed to sleep in, two arms, a roof over her head, wise older sisters to comfort and counsel her (okay, so I didn't tell her that one, but I was definitely thinking it.) - telling her that these were God's way of telling her that He loved her.

Then, finally, everything was quiet.

Ahh.. In bed by 9:50. Almost right on target, and perfect - well, do-able for getting up at 5:30.

The sniffles started up again.

"What now?"

"Why doesn't God give the kids in Africa beds!? Doesn't He love them too?"

Okay so my quick fix to get back to sleep turned into a deeper discussion that lasted another twenty minutes, but I woke up this morning feeling rested, humbled and oh so loved.

Flipping open my Bible I read Psalm 116. "Return unto thy rest, oh my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with thee. For Thou hast delivered my soul from death, kept mine eyes from tears and my feet from falling."

Thank you, Lord, for using my little sister to remind me of Your bounty and the extent of Your love for me.