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Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Reason to Sing

Last night, we had a serious wave of thunderstorms plow through State College. Mind you, I hate thunderstorms. At 3:30 am I was rudely awakened by a <<KAABOOM>> that shook the walls of the house; the lightning so bright, it illuminated my room. The wind howled through the canopy of trees, the branches cracking and breaking.

Until 6:30 am, the rain came in torrential sheets, quickly washing down our street. Needless to say I was awake for much of the night. Moments before my alarm was to go off, the storm dissipated. I lay in bed, prayerful; almost afraid to look outside. Then I heard it.

The sound was clear and distinct. “It couldn’t be…” I thought to myself, “not after all of that.” But sure enough! A bird began singing his happy song outside of my window. I was safe and sheltered in the comfort of my house. This poor guy weathered the storm - outside - all night. Where did he find shelter? Was he scared? Was his home destroyed?

His song so bright and happy it was almost as if he was unaware of the storm that just rocked his little world. All he knew was that the rain and ceased, the sun was rising, and he found it – he found a reason to sing.

I didn’t rise from my bed until I sang my song of thankfulness to God this morning. I have so many reasons to sing!

It’s official – I signed the closing paperwork and am an official homeowner! This weekend begins the move-in process. I have been so blessed by my State College family who has made this hairy scary process so comfortable. There is no room at all to question God’s hand in this – no doubt this is where I am supposed to be.

After I signed the papers and received the key, I drove to my new home. So thankful for technology, I face-timed my parents. Together (as together as we could be) we opened the door to my house. I dropped to the floor in thankfulness. 2000 miles away, my parents did the same. We prayed to dedicate the home to the Lord; that it would be His and all who enter will feel His love and presence.

I did it. By myself. This was a huge final step in my healing process. Over one year later, my storm has finally settled. I weathered the storm and found shelter wherever I could. I have a reason to sing. And sing I must. To tell of His goodness and faithfulness. To remind others who are still feeling the shake of their storm that the rain does stop and the sun is coming.

As my mom prayed, she referenced Noah on the arc. He had to do the unthinkable. When few others understood. He weathered a very long storm on that boat full of smelly, noisy, grumpy things - not his family, the animals! He spent 377 days on the arc waiting for the storm to stop. My mom felt that the number 377 was significant (God’s numbers always are.) After some prayer and research, she was right. There are 365 days in our calendar year – from 377 that is a difference of 12. Including today, if you count back 12 days, you would land on June 2nd.  To you this means nothing. To me – this was my wedding day.

Going a bit further, the number 377 in the Blue Letter Greek/Lexicon Bible signifies rest. To recline at a table; to sit back to lie down. It occurs 11 times in the New Testament. Not to mention that Noah exited the boat on the 27th day of the 2nd month (in my world this is February 27th – the day my engagement ended).

This might not blow your mind, but it does mine. God’s fingerprints are everywhere. We often ask for big, flashing signs and miss how intricately He has woven every single detail of our lives together for His glory and to simply remind us that He is God.

I am left in awe of the events of today and choose to sing. I understand that when your own personal storm is raging, a happy little bird is the last thing you want in your boat. Rather than letting it “ruffle your feathers” (pun intended) allow God to remind you that one day your storm too will be over. One day you will be able to enter in to rest - to have a reason to sing – just like that little bird outside of my window – just like nothing ever even happened.

Remember, one must make the choice to sing. We all have countless reasons - choose to sing this week. It will be a soothing sound of hope to others much like the little birdy was to me this morning. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Well Within

I can not take sole credit for this week's blog. I am blessed to have a boss who pours into me spiritually, who challenges me and draws out the best. Dannah challenged us with this thought a couple weeks ago. It has stayed with me and is something I want to share with you: 

Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart;
    a wise person draws from the well within. Proverbs 20:5

...from the well within. I have been stuck on this thought for the past two weeks. There have been season of my life in which I feel as dry as dirt. There couldn't possibly be anything in my well even if I wanted there to be. Other times, I feel like there is a leak in my well. Sometimes it is overflowing. And even others, my well is stagnant and toxic to anyone who might draw from it. Sometimes, a random donkey. 

What is the condition of your well within? Can you cast your bucket down and bring up that which will quench and refresh? Do you even know where your bucket is?! Wells can vary in depth, volume and water quality. What is yours like? 

I am blessed beyond blessed to have the incredible family I do; to have Blake, Haley, Kelci and Leslie. They have seen to it that my well is fully stocked with fresh water. Life, Scripture, truth, hope and joy are continually poured in. I have been equipped with the ability to draw from that refreshing well. 

Unfortunately, I have recently witnessed quite the opposite. (It is those closest to us who have the ability to either bless our well or make it toxic.) Friends whose families, churches, relationships, etc. have caused their well to become toxic. They have little to nothing safe and soothing to draw out of their own well. 

My charge to you this week is two fold: 

1. Are you blessing and enriching the wells of other people? Or are you, by your cutting words and controlling actions, dumping toxic material into the hearts of others - into your spouse, children, friends?

2. What is the state of your well? Maybe you are like me and have a well that has been established in the truth of the Lord and allows you to thrive. If you do, be exceedingly thankful. If you do not, surround yourself with those who will help you clean and un-contaminate your well; who will pour into you that which will heal, cleanse and restore. 

The well within is important. During Bible times in the Middle East (and in Texas today!) the person who owned the well also owned the land surrounding it. I believe the well within is your heart. You also are made up of "the land surrounding it." The rest of your body, your being, your words, actions... Does your "land surrounding" reflect a well that flows with refreshment and life? 

A toxic well must often be drained and thoroughly cleaned before it is even reconsidered for use. If one drank from a toxic well, serious illness or even death could occur. Such water was often not safe for livestock - and in some cases, even irrigation. 

In Jesus' day, attackers who wanted to prey on and intimidate their subjects would often poison or break down water wells, knowing it was their enemies' source of life. Do you not think the Devil would love nothing more than to break down your well? That is what he is trying to do! The Devil is dumb... he never has new tactics - just the same old tricks over and over. Don't let him get away with damaging the well of your heart. If he can cut off the water supply, he controls your life. 

Dannah charged us with the responsibility of keeping a watch on our well and also doing intentional things to "fill our bucket" full of the good stuff this summer. 

What will you do to clean up and take care of the well within? Often we feel dry emotionally and spiritually simply because we do not put forth the effort to fill our bucket.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 2 Peter 1:3 

If Jesus is your Lord and Savior. If HE is your everything. The well within is Christ Himself. He lives in your heart. WISE is the one who draws from that. God is truly the only one worth drawing from. Other people in our lives are simply a bonus. So, it does not really matter if you have been blessed with extra sources of nourishment or if others have tried to contaminate your well. Your heart belongs to the Lord. He is your well - the only well that will never run dry - the only well that will satisfy - the well that causes you to thirst no more. Draw from Him. Take care of your well within - guard it and draw from it. "Fill your bucket," as Dannah would say. 

This summer I will be intentional about protecting my well and drawing from it by daily, intentional times in the Word, surrounding myself with those who speak truth and life into me and distancing myself from those who do not, reading books that build and challenge my faith and I will write as God continues to direct me. I will be hosting some summer activities for my Bible class to continue to pour life into their wells. What will you do? 

And if you are that one person who just feels like this is in your well.... we will help you get it out and fill you up again.  : )