Saturday, December 7, 2013

Should I Stay or Should I Go?


I’ve been reading through Jeremiah these past few months, using Moody’s Today in the Word’s September 2012 issue. Great bible study material! I save all the issues and pray over which one God would have me study. In the book of Jeremiah, God has gripped me with the practicalities of walking with God, something God’s own people had difficulty with in the Old Testament days.

Today I read chapters 40-44 and found myself shocked with the situation the Israelites faced at that point. The Babylonians had conquered Jerusalem and God had repeatedly spoken through Jeremiah to the people that they should stay and handle the difficulties and included the promise that He would restore them once they turned back to Him. Jonanon and the people just got up and left Jerusalem and were about to retreat to Egypt when they stopped to ask Jeremiah to seek God’s will in their travel. Jeremiah, not used to having them listen to God’s prophecy, made sure they really wanted to know and follow God’s purpose. The Israelites promised to obey whatever God’s response would be (even though He had already made this known to them previously.) When Jeremiah finally returned days later with the God’s response to stay, the people and leaders called him a liar and took him unwillingly with them towards Egypt. Really? I couldn’t believe the stupidity!

Then God spoke into my heart during my time of asking for forgiveness. Didn’t I do exactly what the Israelites had done in Jeremiah, going on my daily trip (work, errands, grandchildren…) all the while expecting Him to go where I – me, myself and I – wanted to go? Jeremiah’s story is everyone’s story – either being carried away on someone else’s headstrong journey or being headstrong myself on my own journey.  Do I even bother to ask God, before or in the midst of my journey, whether I should stay or go?

There are so many times God wants us to stay in very difficult circumstances, because He gets us through them and brings us closer to Him. I’ve been through many such situations and have stayed – through difficult times with marriage, parenting, family life and more. Often He asks me to stay, despite it all, promising that if I stay and seek Him that He will see me through it and bring me oh, so close to Him (carrying me if need be.) If only I would seek Him and His travels rather than my own Egypt-bound journey, God would be sovereign and I would follow, content and at peace knowing I was where He needed me.
by tlc

Friday, September 20, 2013

Misty Days

Sept. 20, 2013

I was driving early one morning. The cool air had mixed with the warm earth, creating a mist very thick and heavy. I saw just a few car lengths in front of me and only a headlight or two behind.  Little traffic littered the road and I felt the isolation and quiet of the foggy morning seep inside my soul. God spoke into that stillness, reminding me that I live my life in this way: seeing only the immediate circumstances I’m experiencing and nothing much else.

I arrived at my destination at peace, God having spoken to me of the future He had in store.  During the church service, I heard God’s Word in the message and sang His praises during the music worship time. The isolation and quiet I experienced during the drive was replaced with the companionship of Christ and my fellow believers.  Yet the stillness remained. I remind myself that I can hear God best when I focus on Him in the midst of my busy, traffic-filled life and try to listen. And when I feel alone and isolated in the fog of my circumstances, I will find He stays with me each step of the way.

Are you in chaotic or foggy circumstances right now? What is God saying to you through it all? Please share too!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Empty Nest

by tlc 

We took our last child to college this week and came home to an empty house. Oh sure, the bedroom was still intact yet empty and tidy, a strange thing in and of itself. That first evening alone was weird, we could eat whatever we felt like or go wherever we wanted. We could even go to bed at whatever time we desired! After 3 decades of parenting, we were finally on our own and at a complete loss.

So what did we do? We were so exhausted from the college move that we ordered our favorite kind of pizza and ate it while lounging on the sofa, watching the Cubs on TV. Next we decided we’d go to bed at the hour our folks do, before 10. They, too, are early risers.

For me, the part-time worker and full-time parent in the family, I found myself wandering around the next day without focus. I had mid-day plans to take a friend to an appointment but I wondered the whole time what my college kid was doing, no longer aware of my child’s schedule, plans, needs… So I chose to fast, focusing on God and lifting others up to Him through prayer. A short mid-day fast where I could ask Him what He had next for me. Even then I felt so unfocused.

What happened next amazed me – I heard Him clearly.  He told me He had waited for me to work through the emotions of parental letting go before bringing the idea of the fast to mind, seeking to comfort me. He pointed out the sign He provided the day before, a sign for my child as well as for me. The sunshine of the day had bounced off a CD of her music and created a rainbow, directly over her head. I will continue watching over her, I felt God say. 

I realize that parenting has defined me far more than any other role in my life. Now that I’m no longer needed as much by my kids, my plan was to spend more time with my spouse. Now I see that I can let Christ define me in whatever comes next. We will walk together even closer, hand-in-hand, He assures me. Yes, all three of us. 

P.S. What is God teaching you at this point in your life?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

View from the Hammock 2

Being There

It took time for me to make it to the hammock again. After the writing conference, I found myself in catch-up mode. And then it happened, gut wrenching pain on my right side. Appendicitis complete with same day surgery and 3 weeks of recovery. I didn’t make it back to the hammock until just last week.

I tried writing a “from the couch” snippet but I was just too tired and groggy.  But while awaiting surgery at the hospital, I wrote an article on praying through pain and a poem about trust. I even read a book since it took awhile to squeeze me into the surgery schedule. As long as I stood, I wasn’t in too much pain, weirdly enough, so all this was done standing.

And then came the resting. I could barely stand and wasn’t able to do very much other than recover. My coworkers sent a meal and flowers and my daughters came to visit the next day when I was released. The grandkids looked on worriedly and then asked to see my ouchies. I couldn’t do a darn thing but lie there and just be.

I look at the gift of being there and marvel. I’m grateful that my appendix didn’t explode, God impressing on me the need to go see the doctor asap. My doctor was fully present and concerned, telling my spouse to take me to the ER right away. The hospital staff assessed the situation, sent me into surgery, and helped me with recovery. The folks who brought us meals at home eased the stress of the situation. I think about the blessing of each person in this process and see the hand of God just in them being there!

PS Are you going through a time of standing or just being right now? Who has God brought to your side during this?

Friday, June 7, 2013

View from the Hammock

My family shoo-ed me away from yard work and into the hammock in order to give me that hard to find time for writing. They know I always find an X, Y and Z to do before I can write. Yes I did turn over laundry and assist my spouse with transplanting a sapling before stretching out in compliance. So this is my "Z" writing about writing.

Tomorrow I head off to a writers conference so today's task is the book proposal. Now, I have a good one-sheet but I hadn't realized that books needed their own resumes, a long resume of 10-20 pages filled with details such as markets, comparable books and the author's innovative promotional strategies.
As I stare at the cloudless sky, the blooming wildflowers (and weeds) and see the yard work ahead of me, I sense God's hand on me, forcing me to the hammock for rest.

Yes, rest. I must rest in Him, relying on His direction in this half-written book that has some possibility. My place is in the hammock, away from the busyness of my life for a time. A daily time now that the hammock lives in my yard again. God seems to want to use this book on parenting and I must step aside from my life and let Him do the leading and deciding. I can assist by getting away from my email, work to-do's and home repair (currently a hole in the floor underneath the stairs) and obey His leading to pray and praise and then write. Even if it's just writing about trying to write.

Okay, Lord. I'm in the hammock. May Your will be done, here as it is in heaven.

PS What about you? How and where do you make time for God?

Monday, April 29, 2013

PBG - Planned By God

God’s timing still seems to amaze me! This weekend brought a spell of vertigo, a visit with the grandchildren and an ER trip for my youngest in the midst of all the college planning. Then the five books came today in the mail– my payment for being a contributor to the newly released I Believe in Healing by Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk. I am amazed that God times these things perfectly and humbled to be a participant in His work. How is God’s timing in your life? Please share a scripture or time where God was so evident in your life!

TLC Nielsen

The oldest grandchild minus one tooth!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Starting Anew with You - Spring 2013

As I've prayed over what this blog should be and where God would have it, I discovered I should start anew. With Easter and spring finally here and my "next" 50 years in progress, I need to start fresh and create a safe dialogue on topics God brings before us - together! So here's a snippet I wrote in my first half century of life and I'm hopeful you'll comment on it and the conversation will start! I'll try to get a new one up weekly so we can keep learning from one another.

At Home in His Heart 2010
I need to write this down before I forget but it's a feeling more than a concept. Here goes - while singing during the music worship time at church this first week of the year, a phrase struck me: "make my heart your home." The reality, however, is that I need to make HIS heart MY home. How at home am I really in His heart? How much of His love pours out through my life? Why do I feel more like a guest than a resident with Christ? 

How do you answer these questions?