How to Let the Master Quilter Do His Work

As I child, I loved to run my fingers along the stitching of my grandmother’s quilts. They were a labor of love for her. Each time my mother reported an impending visit from the stork, my grandmother would smile and say, “I’ll get started on the quilt.” She’d stitch and pray, petitioning heaven with her hope that each of my siblings would “love the Lord all their days.” In this way, quilts and Jesus have always been deeply interconnected for me, almost like the patterns on the quilts themselves.

Not long ago, I took a seemingly straightforward trip. The goal was to support someone important at a crucial time, but the outcome was a mess of conflict and confusion in my heart and mind. I thought I was ready to revisit this space attached to old wounds and questions from my past, but instead the experience was as though someone ripped off a dirty old bandage, uncovering an oozing infection beneath. I felt woozy, unsteady from this discovery. I’ll be honest: my first instinct wasn’t to clean out the wound; it was to slap the bandage back on the wound and pretend I never saw it.

Continue reading at http://theglorioustable.com/2016/07/how-to-let-the-master-quilter-do-his-work/

A Letter to Those Who Wait

I woke up this morning and spent some time in God’s word. And the word that stirred my heart, that jumped off the page was “wait.” It seemed to be the heart of what God was speaking to me, “There is no shame in waiting, only faithfulness.” I thought about how this world sometimes makes us feel like a failure for waiting. Like we should be seeing instantaneous results and if we aren’t, we must be doing something wrong. But, David seemed to be saying something entirely different. I prepared to write a blog on waiting.20160126_100707

And then I read this blog. A Letter to Those Who Wait

And I knew the blog had already been written.

I hope you will find it as powerful and moving as I did.

Serving Through Suffering… With the Joy of King David

O Lord, You alone are my hope.

Ive trusted You, O LORD, from childhood.

Yes, You have been with me from birth;

from my mothers womb You have cared for me.

No wonder I am always praising You!

My life is an example to many,

because you have been my strength and protection.

That is why I can never stop praising You;

I declare Your glory all day long.

And now, in my old age, dont set me aside.

Dont abandon me when my strength is failing.” Psalm 71:5-9

I would love to be able to say this now, let alone in my later years when my health is failing. This is part of Psalm 71, written when David was elderly and very ill. It still shows his strength of purpose and character, as if he was still the young David, ready to take on the world. If you read the full Psalm, as his health fails, his competition is keen on killing him to take hold of power. Despite the challenges of pain and an aged body, he is determined to remain the victor, sitting securely within God’s will.

“Now that I am old and grey,

do not abandon me, O God.

Let me proclaim Your power to this new generation,

Your mighty miracles to all who come after me.

Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.

You have done such wonderful things.

Who can compare with You, O God?

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship,

but You will restore me to life again

and lift me up from the depths of the earth.

You will restore me to even greater honour

and comfort me once again.” Verses 18-21

One of the most inspiring talks I have heard on David was by an elderly Rabbi, who was encouraging his congregation to “serve with the joy of King David!” He spoke about moving through our spiritual lives with love and a smile on our face; as well as the gratitude which manifested in David’s Psalms. The point to his message was that those in the world with no faith would see that joy, and it would become a witness.

Every so often I think about what he said, and I can see the promise in it. Being able to praise God through hardship, blesses God, helps empower us to move forward and also, shows others the goodness of God in our lives. If we had nothing at all to be happy about, we would not praise. Onlookers can see that.

David had a great deal to be grateful for, and he let nothing stop him from sharing it.

“As for me, I will always have hope;

I will praise You more and more.

My mouth will tell of Your righteous deeds,

of Your saving acts all day long—

though I know not, how to relate them all.” Psalm 71:14-15 (NIV)

You know how it feels to be ill. Your energy is drained, you don’t want to move. How David survived so many foes, battles and long-term health problems, is an incredible testimony of the provision of the Lord. He did not **die until the nation of Israel was secure. From the symptoms described in the books of Samuel and the Psalms, it appears that David suffered from diabetes from mid-life; then he most probably passed away from diabetic heart disease. Both explain the extreme cold he suffered in his last few years, [Ref. 1 Kings 1] and the ups and downs in his health, that the Bible records.

David had the help of a local plant named sharp varthemia (chiliadenus iphionoides) to control his diabetes, but I cannot begin to image living through those conditions with not so much as a paracetamol tablet, let alone insulin and cardiac medication. In addition, as someone who had been a warrior for many years, he would have suffered chronic pain and possibly, some debilitation, from orthopaedic problems caused by the extreme wear and tear of warfare on his body.

The aged David must have been very uncomfortable, yet, he didn’t slow down much. Even when King Solomon had taken the throne, David invested his time in his great passion: preparations for building the temple. Reading through 1 Chronicles, they were extensive and David gave his personal wealth to help fund the building, inspiring others to give as well. [Ref. 1 Chronicles chapters 27 to 29]

Then David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly:

“O LORD, the God of our ancestor Israel, may You be praised forever and ever! Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O LORD, and this is Your kingdom. We adore You as the One who is over all things. Wealth and honour come from You alone, for You rule over everything. Power and might are in Your Hand, and at Your discretion, people are made great and given strength.” 1 Chronicles 29:10-12

The suffering that David went through only served to build his gratitude and enhance his relationship with the Lord, which is something that I find amazing. At times, people who have had hard lives become bitter, both with others and with God, but not David. He was able to look back and see the wonder of how the Lord had brought him through.

Psalm 119:71-71 is believed to be David’s work. In it he says:

My suffering was good for me,

for it taught me to pay attention to Your decrees.

Your instructions are more valuable to me

than millions in gold and silver.”

Bless the Lord for the work and legacy of his faithful servant, David, the sweet singer of Isra’el. He is a great example of how to meet hardship head on, and still come out rich and fulfilled, no matter what age you are, or what conditions you suffer from. As I know David would say if he were to be writing this, put your trust and hope in the Lord. He will never abandon those who are faithful to Him. Look to Him for help, you’ll never be unloved, unprovided for or forsaken.

Footnotes:

**“He (David) reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. He died at a ripe old age, having enjoyed long life, wealth, and honour. Then his son Solomon ruled in his place.” 1 Chronicles 29:27-28 Long life, or being full of years, is a sign of the favour of the Lord. Other Biblical heroes who enjoyed the same favour, in those terms, are Abraham, Isaac and Job.

Read more about King David and diabetes: http://articles.faithwriters.com/reprint-article-details.php?article=32037

 

Except where marked, all verses are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

 

This article by Cate Russell-Cole is under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

About Cate and the King David Project

Cate Russell-Cole has been a Christian since 1981 and is a qualified Creativity Coach, Author, Editor and Social Worker. She has been actively involved in church life and ministry, since her teenage years. Until early in 2015, Cate coached writers online through her CommuniCATE Resources for Writers blog, with a blog and social media following of over seven thousand people. Her commercial work had to be stopped due to chronic health problems, so instead, she followed her heart and devoted all her time to King David.

Cate lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and two cats and habitually writes everything in Australian English.

“From Despair to Deliverance: the King David Project,” is a non-profit ministry, that seeks to make the life of King David easy to understand and relevant, so that believers gain inspiration and comfort from the life of King David.

The King David Project website: http://cateartios.wix.com/kingdavidproject

Masada Rain Blog: https://masadarain.wordpress.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/fromdespairtodeliverance

Twitter: @Masada_Rain

Pinterest Boards (including free images for bloggers): https://www.pinterest.com/MasadaRain/

 

 

 

Come Close

I sat in the flimsy black chair, exchanging pleasantries with the young doctor at my follow-up appointment. We’d go over my test results; he’d say they were fine—- my new symptoms surely the result of Lyme and then he’d tell me what to do about them. After all, that was why I’d come, for relief from the sudden, new joint pain that was crippling at times, causing my fingers to swell and preventing me from typing or texting, sometimes even bringing tears to my eyes.
But instead, he opened his mouth and formed different words. Words I hadn’t been expecting, the weight of which crushed my soul. In addition to all the other fun I’d been enjoying, the markers for Rheumatoid Arthritis had come back positive. I’d be sent to a Rheumatologist to confirm, but it seemed quite clear to him.
I drove home in a stupor, working up a good cry. What I wanted most at that moment, more than I wanted to unhear those words was for my husband to come close. I wanted him to tell me that we were still going to be okay. I needed him to say that one more diagnosis didn’t change the commitments we’d made or God’s goodness.
He was on a conference call when I came home. (As he often is) I did my best to hold my cry in. But the second his finger touched the “end call” button, tears streamed my face, and I said, “Can you come over? I need a hug.” The rest was a blur of blubber and snot. But I heard the words I needed to hear. “We’re still okay.”
This morning, I stood in the shower, and I whispered to Jesus, “Come close.” I’ve been drowning in a sea of symptoms and struggles, and I’ve just needed to feel the Lord near. I thought about the wonder of the cross. What a bold, demonstrative move of “coming close.” Is there any doubt that he longs to be close to us?
It’s the goal of every marriage, the coming close. It’s why we commit our lives to one another so that we can live all of our days up close to one another. And maybe somewhere along the way, hurts and disappointments come in and crowd out this goal of coming close, but it is the starting place.
And so it is with our walk with Jesus.
The desire on both sides is the coming close to one another. How many times have I heard the still small voice of my Savior inviting me, “Come close“? And maybe somewhere along the way, hurts or disappoints come in and crowd this desire out and we no longer want to come close.
But today, he’s still whispering to you, to me, “Come close.”
What if we laid our hurts, our disappointments, and our busyness down and we let him embrace us? Maybe the rest will be a blur of blubber and snot. I don’t know. But what I do know, is that we will hear the words our hearts long to hear. “We’re still okay.”

Celebrating Progress

I had a moment this weekend. I crossed a mile marker, albeit an unusual one. I was standing in my dark bathroom (it hurt my eyes too much to have the lights on), staring at the reading on a thermometer. I hit 100. For most people, this isn’t much of a fever and fevers are lame anyway. So what crazy person would be celebrating this? Me. Or anyone like me who hasn’t had a properly functioning immune system in years, or maybe ever and their body just isn’t able to rally enough of a defense against invaders to muster a fever. Until now. So while for most people that thermometer might have just said, “You have a crummy fever.” To me, it read, “You are making progress, big time.”

Progress, I’m not sure we give her the glory she’s due. We really like finish lines. And we are great to announce that we have taken on some new feat. But gritty, fight-it-out-in-the-day-to-day progress? I’m not sure we’re that into her. But we should be, because she’s the one that carries us to the finish line.

Maybe you joined a heap load of other folks in committing to some sort of growth or change in the New Year. At some point, you’ll stop and evaluate your success. Have you crossed the finish line as intended? But what about those checkpoints along the way, called progress? What if you never make it to the intended finish line or it takes two years instead of one…but you make progress. Wouldn’t that still be worthy of celebration?

The thing about progress is it’s uniquely ours. What’s progress for me, may well be standing still for you. That’s why if we compare our progress to that of others we’ll only end up defeated, discouraged and ready to quit. This journey is ours alone. Let’s own our progress and celebrate it. We often celebrate those struts across the finish line and we fully recognize that they were hard-fought and well-earned. But what about the progress along the way?

It turns out progress is often hard-fought and well-earned.

I’m typing this piece with my right eye patched. As we work to rid my body of Lyme, the Lyme gets very angry and puts up a fight. Right now, part of that fight means my eye is insanely sensitive to light and hurts like Hades 24/7.

Sometimes progress is hard-fought and well-earned.

And what about the pace of your progress? What if it’s not fast enough for others…or for you? Progress rarely happens as fast as we’d like. But are you following the course that’s been laid out before you? Are you doing your part and letting others do theirs? Then celebrate that!

The other cool thing about progress is that, like a snowball, it sometimes picks up speed and force over time. So your blood, sweat and tears for that tiny bit of movement, in the beginning, may well be multiplied the closer you get to the finish line.

We are often told to keep our eyes on the finish line, but the simple truth is that, often times, the finish line is just too far away. Instead, if we just run this mile, if we just give it all we’ve got until that next mile marker and then the next and the next and the next… We can celebrate so much progress along the way.

Chances are, whatever you are doing is pretty amazing. Others might not see it, might not fully understand but you know that this progress you are making has been hard-fought and well-earned and that’s worthy of celebration.

So celebrate my friend, all the way to the finish line. No matter how long it takes.

Fluffy Faith

Two years ago at Christmas time our family adopted a Persian cat that our big kids named, “Tater Tot.” She enjoys giving us gifts. To obtain these gifts, she must go out into the backyard and kill them. Then she proudly drags them to the back porch and leaves them on display. I’ll spare you the details on the various gifts we’ve found on the back porch but let’s just say she really enjoys her hunting time outside. But her fur does not. It gets matted and tangled and recently we had to have her taken to the groomer for a little trim. It’s funny, Tater Tot has always looked so big to me. In fact, I’ve often given her a hard time about being such a big, fat cat. But because her fur was so matted from her time hunting, the groomer had to give her “the lion” cut, shaving off almost all of her fur excluding head and paws. Besides being just plain hilarious, I’ve noticed something else. Once you removed all the fluff, Tater Tot looks so small, frail even.

It might seem strange to you that the sight of my recently shaved cat, stretched out on my couch, reminded me of faith. But it did, at least of some people’s anyway. Because once you get rid of all that fluff that makes it look so large, it’s really very small and even frail.

There have been a couple of times that people have told me that their faith, their believing, feels small. One is when they’ve had the wind knocked right out of them by some circumstance in life, such as the loss of a loved one, an illness, a financial hardship, infidelity, etc.

The other is when the person’s faith has been chronically malnourished. It usually sounds something like this, “I’m just not sure what I even believe anymore.” Or “I’m not sure I even believe that stuff anymore.”

“Okay, what have you been doing to build your faith up, to feed it?” Blank stare ensues.

We’ve all been told that what feed will grow and what we starve will die.

We are all guilty of this at times. Feeding the wrong things, while starving our faith. But today I want to ask you a tough question. Beneath all the fluff, what does your faith really look like? What are you doing to feed it? Is your faith feeling weak because it is chronically malnourished?

Sometimes when our faith feels weak we ask our friends to pray for us and that’s great. But I hope your friends will also tell you, “Joker, you need to eat.” And maybe even load you up in the car and take you to that faith hospital called church. Because I would hope that if your friend saw you starving to death they’d do more than pray for you. I would hope that they would feed you and get you some medical care.

How is your faith feeling today? Fluffy? Starved? When was the last time you fed it?

After all, what you starve will die and what you feed will grow.

 

Perfect Love

I think we’re going to have to start here—with me saying that I understand that I am treading on dangerous ground, boldly going where many won’t. Many already have and many shouldn’t. But here’s the thing, I have to. It’s part of what I’m called to do.

I hope that though you might disagree with me, you can respectfully disagree with me and we can still love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Have you ever fallen in love? Do you remember that early stage where as Lady Gaga says you were “on the edge, the edge, the edge” but you were scared? Scared of letting go, scared of getting hurt, scared of going here again because remember what happened last time? But then you did it. Because deep down, you knew, love was worth it. Love is always worth it. If you aren’t loving, you aren’t really living. So you let go, you faced your fears and you loved, with your whole heart. And maybe it was glorious and maybe it was terrible but most likely, it was a combination of both.

Because love always cost us something.

The bible tells us that perfect love cast out all fear. (I John 4:18) Here’s how I have experienced this in my life: The closer I draw to the heart of God, the more intense my desire to love others becomes, the less afraid I become. Over time, my desire to love becomes bigger than my fear. Until, I can’t help but love—no matter how crazy it might seem to others, how dangerous it might be, no matter what it might cost me.

It’s this love that sends folks on the mission field to minister in hostile nations. Their desire to love is greater than their fear. They simply have to love people in the way that God has called them to. Please hear me. What I am not saying is that we are somehow sub-par Christians if we are not sharing the gospel in a hostile country because maybe the Lord has called us to share the gospel in our workplace right here in America. And if we are doing so faithfully, praise God! What I am saying is that we shouldn’t ever let our fear stop us from loving in the way God has called us to.

How has God called you to love the people around you? I don’t know. I mean, the bible is pretty clear about feeding, clothing, visiting, caring for widows and orphans, those in prison. What does that look like in your day-to-day life? I don’t know. But you do. You know what he’s calling you to. You know who he’s called you to mentor. Where he’s called you to volunteer your time or give financially. Or maybe even who’s he’s calling you to share your home with.

You also know where you are letting fear hold you back from doing those things. Some of you might be called to do those things in other countries. Maybe you are afraid of what others will say, or of physical safety. Maybe you are afraid of letting go of American luxuries. You fear you are not cut out for it.

God has not given you a spirit of fear but of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). You are no longer a slave to fear. Let your desire to love grow so large that you are no longer afraid.

If we died in the process of loving the least of these, wouldn’t our lives be well spent?

This week can we spend some time asking the Lord to show us how he wants us to love the people in our world? Could we ask him to show us where fear might be standing in our way and then stand on the truth that perfect love casts out all fear?

No Longer Slaves

The Art of Receiving

 Today’s post is brought to you by my friend who just so happens to be a very talented author,  Brianna George. 

Brianna is a Speaker, Teacher, lover of wild colored hair, part-time writer and full-time Encourager. She’s a mom to two spicy boys and has happily married for 12 years. More of her writing can be found at her awesome site.

briannapic

I am terrible receiver of tangible help. I mean terrible. I second guess gifts. I ask “are you sure?” a million times when someone offers me something that I feel is more than I deserve. I have refused gifts and physical help when I needed it. I experience guilt and humiliation at being on the receiving end of financial blessings. I tend to always try to “give-back” with a return blessing to someone that has given me their time and energy… And I don’t enjoy when I receive a surprise and can’t reciprocate. I am a terrible receiver. This is pride…absolute pride…and I abhor its effect on how I receive. In the last few years, and especially the last few months, God has been teaching me how to be a better receiver and it has been a bittersweet experience.

As a believer, we are constantly put in the position of receiving. We receive daily mercy, grace, hope and love from our Father. For some these are more easy to accept…or at least we have fooled ourselves into believing we freely accept them. But too often we find ourselves doing something we don’t want to do (or don’t believe should be done) in the name of Jesus as a believer. And therein lies the root of the problem; Unbelief. Unbelief tries to shimmy its way into our core and replace Christ’s truth of who we are, with the conclusion that we are unworthy, not holy enough or lacking, despite the fullness we have received in Christ. This unbelief can translate over into both tangible and spiritual receiving.

There is an art to receiving. Proper receiving is done in humbleness, gentleness, and gratitude allowing the giver to be blessed. I am quite experienced in giving and understand how for the believer this divine sanction goes beyond the feel good sensation in helping someone, but gives them confidence and convinces them to continue listening to the Lord’s instruction in other areas of their lives.

What I have been challenged in understanding is regarding the art to receiving well and how this allows me to accept blessings received beyond the tangible gift a giver is bestowing me. A major part of receiving well is experiencing enjoyment in a season of constant receiving. Enjoyment beyond being content. Enjoyment in receiving out of necessity and not having my own self-sufficiency in any area of my life. See I can be content in this season my family finds ourselves.  The contentment that we are in a season of relying on daily manna to survive. The daily manna that is spurring us to spiritually thrive. But there is a difference in contentment and enjoyment.

I have asked myself countless times why I am not enjoying this season of receiving. Why am I not receiving well? What is the lie I am believing that stops my enjoying the amazing and miraculous gifts our God has tangibly been showering us with and providing for all our needs?

FEAR. Fear of judgment. Fear He won’t continue to provide. Fear this hard season will never end. Fear the kids will be adversely affected. Fear of misunderstanding. Fear of loss of reputation. Fear of misrepresenting Christ. Fear of not pleasing people we love…and the list goes on and on… So much FEAR. But perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)

One can not live in joy and fear at the same time. Much like the reality of grace, we have previously talked about, we can not both live in grace and condemnation. Living in joy with positivity can not be lived while we are in fear and allowing negativity in our lives. Our joy and enjoyment in receiving is not a bad thing.  For it is our Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom. (Luke 12:32) We do not have to fear the receiving. There is no judgment or condemnation from our Lord in receiving that which he has ordained for us to have in his timing.

I say this, yet I admit at this time I am not fully convinced of it yet…Even this past month as I prepared for my completely donated trip to Austin, which I know I was supposed to go on, I questioned if I REALLY SHOULD have gone and accepted the help to get there because I feel a pang of not being self-sufficient…which creates fear…Oh, pride why do you have to ruin everything?

Where are you experiencing fear that is causing you to not be able to enjoy the season you are in? Do you struggle with being either a good receiver or a good giver?

The No-Drinking Badge

Sitting in Beef O’ Brady’s this past week enjoying my chicken tacos (while Hayden cheered on the Lions and Avery begged for more quarters to put in the machines filled with plastic toys lining the walls), I thought about the “no drinking badge” I’d so proudly displayed for so many years—how it had evolved over time and how I was now willfully throwing it away.

No. I did not get wasted.

I didn’t even have a drink.

I was born with an innate desire to please. I cannot tell you the source of this burning desire because I do not know. What I do know is that from as long as I can remember, I was carefully listening for those important words: what to do and what not to in order to please. I remember as a child getting in trouble for saying “I’m sorry” too much. Apparently, I was sorry for everything. How desperately I longed to please.

I think this may be part of why I totally missed the point when it came to loving Jesus. I heard whatever you do, “You mustn’t have sex before you get married or lightening will surely come down from heaven. Drinking is one of the worst of the worst sins and is as good as signing up for eternal damnation. Church attendance and bible reading are a must if you aim to please.” And so life, serving Jesus were all about the dos and the don’ts to me, although I was clueless to that at the time. I saw others through my own primitive worldview and looking glass. Drinking and sex = bad. Bible reading and church attendance = good. I was a grown woman with plenty of life shattering mistakes under my belt before it occurred to me that all of this—avoiding sin and loving the things of God—were all meant to flow out of a rich and vibrant, loving and living walk with God.

It turns out, that when I stepped away from behavior modification and control and started focusing on just loving Jesus with everything that was within me, loving the things of God and avoiding sin were much easier. All that rote “obedience” was pretty meaningless. For many years, I’d prided myself on certain things, worn them around like a “good little Christian badge.” One of them was that I’d never had a drink. Now, I’d failed the Lord in countless other ways, probably in a given day. I judged others every time I saw them drink or heard them cuss. But that was okay, because I was a good Christian. Need proof? Just look at my good little Christian vest. Here’s my newest badge: Never Had A Drink, right next to Don’t Watch R-rated Movies (Also drilled into me as a kid. You were clearly not saved if you watched them.).

Now, am I all about getting wasted while watching R-rated movies and singing Jesus tunes these days? No, but I don’t freak out anytime I’m around alcohol anymore. And I recognize that these all come down to personal convictions. You have personal freedom, and then, depending on the issue, there’s common sense and not offending your brother or causing them to stumble and a host of other angles to consider it from. But, one by one I’m peeling each of those badges, those proofs that I am a good little Christian off and I’m throwing them away. And instead, I’m running after Jesus with all that I have within me. And just like you, it’s in that place I find freedom like I’ve never known, a love that nothing in this world could ever compare with.

What badges have you been sporting on your vest?