Sacred Intersections, Silence, and Shattering

I learned something about myself recently. Or, rather, I should say it is a lesson I am learning and re-learning again – the kind of lesson James spoke of about the man who looks in the mirror and forgets what he looks like as he turns away (James 1:23, 24).  I am like that. I forget what God has taught me, and then, in His infinite grace, He shows me again. And again. I marvel at my slowness! How poorly I translate the learning into life. How weary I am of the push-pull of sinful desires that war within!

Who will help this woman of sin?!

Praise God, “the Cross still stands and meets my needs in the deepest straits of the soul” (Valley of Vision, “Dark Guest”). I thank God for the Cross. For daily helping me take up mine and follow after Him. Today, I stumbled across my own words in an old journal: “Cross-bearing in silent, steadfast faith” and realized this is what I have been doing these last months. There are no words to share, only a slow, deliberate following after Jesus, refusing to veer off into my many weaknesses, temptations, and sin. A painful, careful following to be sure.

The blog has been silent lately. This has been a point of contention with me. A crisis point even. I have questioned if I should close it down all together, if I have said everything I am to say. And yet, oddly, the Lord has been pulling me back to the “mirror” to look long into the themes of my life, stoking the fires of my desire to write them down. So, I have concluded it is my flesh that succumbs to pressure, feels guilty for being quiet so long, and feels compelled to deliver “results” on a timed schedule. The Lord is teaching me much on all of this. Leaving it all quietly to Him is a daily devotion.

An author once cautioned me to be careful in what she termed “the sacred intersections”. The places where our story intersects with the story of another. Be diligent to stick to your own story, leave their story to them. This was good advice; that I’ve taken to heart. My life in recent years can be summed up in this thought. I largely live at the intersections, taking care not to cross the street in my sharing.

And this is the Lord doing. We grow in His timing and ways, at His pace. I try to listen and follow. Not share empty boasts, just for the sake of posting something. All of the above is the reason for my silence.

But, back to where I began: this lesson I am learning again. I noticed how susceptible I am to the suggestions or expectations of others. Just well-meaning people who say things to me – random, conversational type things that a “normal” person would probably be able to evaluate and filter fairly easily. But my boundaries are broken down. A suggestion becomes a burden, a sense of obligation, a desire to accomplish whatever Tom, Dick, and Harry ask for. I quickly take the pass and am half-way down the field before I realize it’s not my football. Or my game. Or my stadium. It’s not even my hometown, so why am I wearing your uniform? I’ll tell you why. Those darn fans. Those cheering, adoring people who compel us. Well, at least, me. That is sadly what I am learning. I am slave to performance. My doing overtakes my being in a desire to dazzle. I want to be the person you think I am. I want to deliver what you ask of me. The realization surprised me (again), but also frightened me more than a little. My heart’s desire is to run the race set before me, and only me. That’s hard to do, at least for me.  This idea of taking up my cross daily gets a whole lot more complicated when I am trying to keep all the incoming plates spinning at the same time.  So, these days, I am learning to let the plates fall, and with it, the shattering of meeting expectations that were never mine to meet. Even as I shudder and stumble in the wake of the terrible crashing sound, I am learning to rise and simply begin, again.

Social Media Scatterbrain and Other Random Bits

Hi friends,

It has been awhile since I’ve written a whole post here. I have to apologize to you for neglecting the blog lately. It is so easy to update pictures on Facebook and Instagram that sometimes I forget to take the time to write an update here. I am learning to use the different technology, but I am far from a social media maven. More of a scatter brain, really. I am clearly spinning too many plates, a couple are bound to fall.

Which is why I have all but abandoned Twitter. I think I’ve tweeted my last tweet, for now anyway. It is a trial and error process to figure out what tool is best to communicate what. I really like Instagram and Facebook for updating my artwork. If you use either of these, click the links to connect to Faith Miner’s Daughter out there in cyber land.

One of the problems with Facebook though is they decide how many people should see my posts. Just because you like my page, doesn’t mean you will actually see my posts. Facebook is about engagement. The more you click like and comment, the further my post reaches. It is a little frustrating, but it is Facebook’s game so we have to play by their rules. So, what I am saying is when you actually see a post from Faith Miner’s Daughter: like, comment, and repeat! And thanks for connecting with me out there.

Things really are coming together right now. I feel like I am finding my groove…my niche. I have been trying to figure out Faith Miner’s Daughter for years now, and with these recent developments my tagline has emerged. Tagline is fancy business jargon to say in one line what you are all about. Here is what I am about, “Inspiring women of faith to take heart and move mountains”. Simple, right? Wow, that took a LONG time to solidify.

It started coming together last fall when God dropped the idea on me to start take heart parties. What is a take he(ART) party? Well, stay tuned on that! My first one is tomorrow, and I am SO excited that I can hardly wait!! I promise to post pictures and more next week on this. But the basic idea is to bring the art to women  – to your small group or event – and lead you in creation of a mixed media project along with supplying the devotional thoughts and Scripture that inspired it. Taking heart and moving mountains while making really cool stuff together. Sounds awesome, right? I think it sounds like heaven. I cried when this idea came because, as with everything, I was making it harder than it actually is. God is SO gracious – we are swimming in His glorious riches if we have only eyes to see this truth. I hope through these art parties to clear some rubble and dig out the treasures we have in Christ Jesus. But mostly I hope to stay out of God’s way.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know Him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:17-19).

To summarize, Take he(ART)!!

So, that is what’s going on over here with me. That and I celebrated a birthday last week. I did a couple random things because getting older kind of makes you crazy, apparently. I decided to read each book of the Bible that has a chapter that is my age. I am old enough that only 5 books of the Bible go that high. Lol. I read each one slowly out loud and had a very instructive (and tearful) time with God in His Word.

I also decided to take a “selfie”. Why not? That’s what everyone else does. They take random, “natural” pictures of themselves and post them on social media. Artists like to take pictures in their creative space because we like to see who can make the biggest mess. So, I set out to take a selfie of me in my art room on my birthday. I quickly learned this is the most unnatural sort of thing to do. Besides feeling ridiculous and a little narcissistic, I had a whole horde of technical, practical problems. How to hold the camera, what angle is the most flattering (none!), how to push the button with one hand extended AND keep the camera steady, how to look at the camera instead of the button you just pushed, oh, and how to smile, and not look like a weirdo with some kind of intestinal discomfort. Or just a plain weirdo. I had to delete every picture because I was terrorized by the thought that someone might actually see one of them! This whole ordeal went on entirely too long, and I decided I must be too old to get this whole selfie thing. But I did finally manage to get one that I did actually share on Facebook. This I could live with. Here it is, my birthday selfie for the record (as if there is a record for such lunacy!):

IMG_20150123_152018People did like my selfie and my art room so much it led me to take another wearing my new birthday scarf and sweater. Here is proof that old people can take selfies too (kinda):

IMG_20150127_091950And then my husband came home from work with this, and all was well with the world.

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All my selfie madness dissolved blissfully into forkfuls of german chocolate icing. Best husband ever, best birthday ever. Except that part at dinner when the server brought over a saddle and wanted me to sit on while she led the entire restaurant to shout “Yeeeeehaw”!  I refused the saddle, God forbid if that selfie ever surfaced.

But I am back in the saddle again here, and it feels so good. Much love to you all. Happy Friday, friends!

Robyn

 

Ninja on Demand

A friend asked me to share pictures of Jamie in his ninja mask. I should have done this in my first post . But my batteries in the camera were exhausted, so I had to pillage the TV remotes before I could take some pictures. A day in the life. Sigh.

Presenting, Jamie “Ninja-in-Training”:

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The thing that cracks me up the most about these pictures is his “sword” is actually a plastic carrot bat that was in his Easter basket last year. Another Dollar Tree find. Common denominator: Me. I am the reason for this ninja business. Moral of this story:  a mom in the dollar store is a dangerous thing!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Remember the Prisoner Birthday Blitz

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Eddie and Mom, August 2014

One of the sad realities with prisoners is most of them feel forgotten. I talk to my son all the time on the phone, and he tells me story after story of inmates with little or no family contact. Guys who never receive a letter or have someone come visit them. For many, being in prison literally means being locked away from the rest of the world. Prison is not only a place of physical confinement, but also emotional isolation in being cut off from relationship.

All that being said, it is difficult to maintain relationship with a loved one in prison. You can’t relate to what they are going through, and it seems almost cruel to share what’s going on in your life with them. If Eddie calls me while I am cooking dinner, for example, I often feel guilty in telling him what we are having. Knowing the kind of food he has to eat everyday makes me feel like I am adding to his suffering in sharing our dinner menu. But I know this is not true. Eddie asks for simply daily things, like what we are eating, because that’s what makes him feel connected. It is an intentional effort to communicate with him, being sensitive yet generous in sharing my life with him.

Eddie’s 21st birthday is coming up on October 26th. I sent an email to friends and family asking them to send him a card or note. I am hoping to cultivate a “blitz” – an influx of cards to bless him and let him know he is not forgotten. For a prisoner, this is the best gift we can give them.

I hesitated about whether or not to share this request on the blog. Most of you don’t even know Eddie personally. But then I have been following another Christian author, Carol Kent , who also has a son in prison with a birthday coming up in October. Small world, eh? Carol put her son’s address out on Facebook for anyone who wanted to send a card. I thought, ‘How cool. If Carol Kent can do it, so can I’. I am just being funny about that, but in all seriousness, I am still learning how to communicate effectively on having a son in prison, and how that translates to my writing ministry. But I have generally found when you open your life to people, it makes them feel connected too. And knowing we are not alone in the real life struggles is important. This is a big part of what I hope to communicate through my writing. So, I guess it kind of makes sense to share my real life stuff on some level with you.

Now that I’ve given you the blow-by-blow of my logic for doing so, Eddie’s address is posted here, for anyone who wants to bless him with a card for his birthday. Thank you for helping me ‘remember the prisoner’.

Edward Moore 652923 14E/227T
P.O. Box 901
5701 Burnett Road
Leavittsburg, Ohio 44430-0901

Please note that Eddie is not allowed to receive stamps, cash, books, or anything else through the mail. If anyone has a desire to contribute something else to his needs, please contact me to discuss further.

I have several times felt the Lord prompt me with, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). Please know that your simple gesture of sending a card is doing the Lord’s work in ministering to those in prison. You bless God in blessing the prisoners. Carol Kent has created a ministry called Speak Up for Hope . They are doing some great work in getting prisoners access to greeting cards, and sending care packages to those with loved ones in prison, for anyone with further interest in prison ministry.

Getting Past the Past

“But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect”  (Corinthians 15:10)

People really get into this idea of “Throwback Thursday”, or #tbt if you speak #hashtag language. Each week there is a photomontage on Facebook as people share in this collective “blast from the past”. Baby pictures, prom, weddings, special occasions. The pictures parade and celebrate the lives they represent.  The lives going by too quickly as we learn more with the passing of each year. All of this is well and good. A spot of fun to pass the time, I suppose. That is, until it’s your own face staring back at you; in a photo of a person you barely recognize. And one you would just as soon forget.

This happened to me this week. Throwback Thursday became my Freaky Friday. My typical morning arrested in a suspenseful showdown between me and, well, me. A younger, former, and tragically inclined me. My Facebook page had been hijacked in the night, while I slept unaware of what would befall me in the morning. I unwittingly became the target of a #tbt photo bomb, courtesy of the nifty (involuntary) tagging feature. Thank you, Facebook.

So what? What’s the big deal?  It’s just a picture. A picture of a young girl with hair half as tall as she is, holding a Budweiser she wasn’t even old enough to drink.  To the people sharing it, it’s just a good memory. Fun times we shared. It might even be hurtful to them that I didn’t share in their reaction. But, you see, the thing about skeletons is we mostly like to keep them in the dark. The thing about becoming a Christian later in life is coming to terms with your past. The fact that you had one, and it’s not something you like to talk about much. And you certainly don’t want it spread around on Facebook. When I look at the girl in the photo, I feel shame. I am not proud of the way I lived then. I feel sadness and regret. I see a girl who lived recklessly, foolishly. I see a girl who liked to drink a lot of Budweiser because she didn’t know that beer could never fill the emptiness inside.  

I think today I might be having a mini-victory on this front. In the past, I would have freaked out about any glimpse into my past. I would have been consumed with guilt, and worried about what others would think of me. I would imagine their sneering, “And you call yourself a Christian!”  I would have feared judgment. I’ve been accused of being a hypocrite before. And maybe I have been. I have struggled to look back without getting sucked into the emotional undertow of self-condemnation. I’ve allowed my past to manipulate me and have power over me in the present. The enemy has often used this tactic to keep me down, or at least circling the wagons in my constant  reputation watch.

A hypocrite is someone who pretends to be something they are not, or to not be something they are. Today, I am declaring a moratorium on pretense. Betcha didn’t see that one coming, Satan. I am done pretending. I am a sinner saved by grace. No more, but no less. I am Christian with a past. I am not proud of the person I once was. The look back is still painful. But I am not that girl anymore – by the grace of God. I boast only in Jesus, my Lord and Savior; the One who loved me enough to reach into my drunkenness and offer me life-giving drink. Jesus satisfies my thirsty soul and fills me with unspeakable joy. Jesus covers my past, present, and future by His own blood, which has bought me eternal redemption.

To those who struggle with feelings of shame, grief, guilt, and regret over your past, be freed from your suffering. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Jesus speaks the Word of a better covenant over you, “Take heart, daughter…your faith has healed you”. That healing is head to toe; every part of your past, present, and future. We are made well in Jesus. The text reads, “And the woman was healed from that moment (Matthew 9:22).

Behold, Jesus makes all things new. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are no longer victims to our past. We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. “She is clothed with dignity and strength; she can laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25). We can press on by those throwback Thursdays, and press into Victory Sunday. Jesus lives, and through Him we have been raised to new life by the same power. God’s power and grace. Remember the empty tomb when you are fearful of the dead bones in your past. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He said, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go”.  It’s time we shed the rags of the past and walk in the newness of life we have received “through Him who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).  

#tbt swallowed up in #vs