Saturday, June 16, 2012

taking some time

( source )
I am not really sure how long I will be gone. I need some time...to focus, to think, to re-evaluate, to realign priorities, to pray and to heal. My family needs me, my marriage needs me, my husband needs me...and I need all of them! The last 4 parts of Psalm 23 will be on hold until my return. I hope you will all come back and finish up the series with me then. Thank you for all of your prayers! Be back as soon as I can!

Friday, June 15, 2012

path


"So, here’s the skinny: every Friday for over a year hundreds of people join a kind of writing flash mob...For five minutes flat. No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real. All on the same prompt...Write and see what comes out. There’s no right or wrong." ~Gypsy Mama
( source )
sometimes the path is not well lit

sometimes it seems dark, lonely and even frightening

sometimes you can't see the end

the distance is unknown

the obstacles unsure

how long, how deep, how  much farther?

...how much pain...

...how much sadness...

unanswered questions, unresolved feelings

thoughts overwhelm

time drags on

tears burn...so do words

it's a path that must be taken

a path that will lead to healing

a path that is hard

but a path that will strengthen

...i am not alone...

this path can't be taken alone

He is with me...guiding me...leading me

His word...my lamp...my light

in His hands...my path

in His hands...my healing

clinging to that truth

Thursday, June 14, 2012

comfort in the "tools of the trade"

A Simple Princess
After sharing a bit of my valley, I still wanted to share with you, the information that I had gathered regarding the rod and staff! I have found it quite interesting and hope you will as well. I love how the tools of a shepherd correlate with the tools of The Shepherd! So, here we go!
4b. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Before we discuss the shepherd's tools of the trade and how they provide comfort, lets dissect the word comfort, just one of many true attributes of our LORD.

comfort-
dictionary meaning
-verb
  1. to soothe, console, or reassure; bring cheer to
  2. to make physically comfortable
  3. to aid, support or encourage
( source )
thesaurus meaning
  1. assist
  2. calm
  3. confirm
  4. console
  5. ease
  6. encourage
  7. help
  8. nourish
  9. quiet fear
  10. reassure
  11. refresh
  12. revive
  13. soothe
  14. strengthen
  15. support
  16. uphold

The full meaning of the word comfort encompass all of the verses we have examined so far. Verse one speaks of physical comfort as well as spiritual needs being met. Verse two offers assistance and nourishment as well as calming of our body, mind and soul. In verse three we experience refreshment, revival, help and support and the beginning of verse four provides confirmation and reassurance that we do not go it alone, quieting our fears. This journey is guided by our Shepherd who is armed with the specific instruments required for safe travel...the rod and the staff.

The Rod

The Hebrew word for rod is SEBET, which leans to the idea of a stick. This stick would have been chosen by the shepherd himself just as he was starting out in his career. It was picked from a tree and carved, forming it perfectly to fit his hand, creating an extension to his right arm. The shepherd would then practice throwing it for many hours a day perfecting his speed and his accuracy. This instrument stood as a symbol of his strength, power and authority and would be used for three main purposes.
  1. The rod was used to defend against predators. The shepherd use the rod to drive off attacking animals as well as beat at the bush deterring snakes and such. This protection was necessary for the survival of the sheep.
  2. The rod also served as a means of counting and examining the sheep. As the sheep passed under the outstretched rod, the shepherd would not only count each of them but also open their fleece and then use his hands to examine them. The shepherd would check the cleanliness of the wool and for parasites, skin irritations, lesions or any signs of trouble. This intimate detail ensures the health of the sheep.
  3. The rod was used for discipline. When the sheep would stray away, the shepherd would whip his rod across the field sending the sheep scurrying back to the flock.
All of these actions of protection, examination and correction were done out of compassion for his sheep.
( source )
Our Shepherd is compassionate and protects us from our enemy. He will give us the strength to overcome temptations. We, like the sheep may “look” healthy but we can not pull the wool over our Makers eyes. He can see our lesions and parasites and He asks us to confess these sins, not to hide them. He cares about our health...spiritually, mentally and physically. His rod, symbolic of His Word is also used to discipline us...teaching, rebuking, correcting and training us so we will be equipped. He is filled with love and compassion for us, just as the shepherd to his sheep.

The Staff
`
The Hebrew word for “staff” is MISHENA, which gives the concept of “something to lean on”, “support” or “trust”. Not only is this an instrument that the shepherd himself can lean on, like a walking stick but it is also the tool that the sheep can rely on. Like the rod, the staff has three main purposes.
  1. The staff is used to draw sheep together into intimate relationship. In the crook of the staff, the shepherd will gently pick up a newborn and return it to it's mother being careful not to injure the little one as well as making sure that there is no other scent on the babe as the mother may then reject her own offspring.
  2. The staff is used to bring sheep in close for observation. Regardless of the age of the sheep, the shepherd would reach out and catch one of the sheep to check them. Some sheep tend to be timid and with the staff the shepherd would be able to scoop up one that may be a distance away from him. He would then carefully examine them to make sure they were clean and healthy.
  3. The staff was used for guiding the sheep along the path. Sometimes the sheep would sway off the path and need to be guided back in the right direction or the path may split and the shepherd would reach out his staff and gently direct the sheep as to which road to take.
( source )
In each of these accounts, the Shepherd's compassion and concern for the sheep is evident.
Our Shepherd also desires this intimate relationship with us drawing us close to Him. The staff represents His Holy Spirit, calling us to a heart check as well as guiding us in the right direction.

The rod and the staff comfort me...The Word and the Holy Spirit, they comfort me! 

"Holy Spirit rain down...let your power fall, let your voice be heard, come and change our hearts, as we stand on your word, Holy Spirit rain down!





This is my heart cry as I continue to work towards healing and allowing my LORD to guide me, lead me, carry me from the valley, learning lessons as He uses His rod to protect me, correct me and discipline me and His staff as He draws me near, calls me to a heart check and continues to guide me on the right path! Thank you Lord for loving me enough to comfort me through your Word and your Holy Spirit! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Can you find comfort in the rod and staff?

A Simple PrincessI had a complete post all ready to go a few weeks ago for this portion of Psalm 23(which I will still post later this week because the information is truly amazing and extremely informative). It went through the definition of comfort and explained in detail the shepherds "tools of the trade" and how they apply to us...His sheep! The all-inclusive list went through how the shepherd picks and uses his tools...the staff to guide, observe and draw his sheep near to him and the rod to defend, count and examine and also to discipline. 

So, I ask...can you find comfort in the "tools of the trade"?
4b. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
I mentioned last week that I was in the midst of my own dark valley, however I did not share any details. It is a difficult thing to air out your dirty laundry...especially when it seems to come out of know where and you aren't really sure of how you even got there. I knew my hubby was stressed and I also knew we seemed to be a little distant...I thought it was his new job. I mean, it makes sense that with a promotion comes more work load and more stress. That was not the case! The reality is that it is home life that has stressed my hubby out....I have stressed my hubby out! I am still not completely comfortable sharing much more than this, mostly because I am not really sure how we got here...the fact is...we have work to do. We have a strong enough marriage to work it all out, however there is buried stuff that has come to a head that needs to be dealt with. There is hurt feelings and confusion, there is misunderstanding and well, just plain junk that has accumulated. There are places in our marriage that I thought I was getting better at..trust, submission, anger...I thought I was growing in these facets of my life and I am realizing maybe I have not changed as much as I though...maybe not that much at all.

So, do I find comfort in the rod and the staff? Do I find comfort in His Word and in the Holy Spirit?

I want to say a whole-hearted YES!! Yes, I do find comfort when I take the time to listen to Him, to pray, to read scripture, to let it all soak in and to breathe deep. I do find comfort in the fact that I know He is here, guiding me, leading me, carrying me through this tough time. Yes...there is comfort knowing that regardless of where I am and how much I falter...He never changes...He loves me just as I am, but He also loves me too much to leave me here! 

The reality is though, that unless I allow Him to comfort me, I will not feel the presence of Him...I will not know His heart for me! Unless I look for Him in this mess...I will not see Him...I will not see His plan! There have been some "passionate chats" that have attacked, hurt and caused more confusion. In my human nature, I tend to revert to old habit and yell...loud and not always nicely. I am not always in the mood to apologize right away...I stew on things and I hold grudges! I close my mind and my heart to it all! I break down, fall apart and close up and in every one of these situations, I am not allowing His rod and staff to comfort me. In these moments of upset I am not allowing His Spirit to fill me with peace and I am certainly not diving into His word for that comfort either. I need to take the time to look up and seek Him...I know that's where my help is.

( source )
After a heated discussion a few days ago, my husband asked if I wanted to pray with him...together! Before I even thought about it...with frustration at the forefront the words flew off my tongue: "Are you kidding me? I will have my own prayer time...not with you...not now!" I'm not even sure how he felt about my response...I had shut down at that point and he wasn't going to press any farther. We have had a few nights like this.

Truth be told...I hate this! I hate that we are not able to talk right now without hurting, offending or causing some form of misunderstanding! I hate that we are distant and broken! I hate that it has come this far over a bunch of little things! What I am learning though is that although the ole adage of not making a mountain out of a mole hill may be true, when you pile a whole bunch of mole hills together, you create a mountain and so here we are trying to fix it all!! It's going to take time...it's going to take counselling...it's going to take prayer and patience. Boy, when God laid the word peace on my heart as this years challenge...who knew I would be tested this much to find it!


My husband reads my blog periodically and the other day he mentioned that what he was seeing in my words on the screen and what he was seeing in my actions in the everyday did not always correlate...and it's true! I write my heart and share my passion for Jesus but sometimes in the heat of the moment, I lose sight of that...I fly off the handle...I fail at being reasonable and patient...I fail at being caring and loving...I fail! I need to remember to go to Him...seek Him wholeheartedly...rest in His arms of comfort...let Him guide me, watch over me and draw me close with His staff and in this time of struggle He will defend me against the enemy...and no, that is not my husband...He will examine my heart and yes, He will lovingly discipline me. All I have left to say is that  I am so glad that He's not finished with me yet!!




Please feel free to link up your own post on the comforting rod and staff or comment below! Thank you to those who have been praying, even without knowing the valley I am in...your prayers have meant the world to me and it touches my heart that there are so many wonderful women out there that do not know me in real life and yet still reach out and love...such a beautiful testament of God's love in them!! 

I will post the "tools of the trade" post on Thursday, for those that are interested in the details behind the instruments!

Monday, June 11, 2012

joy dare...counting 484-504

It's hard to count gifts of joy when you are hurt, broken and filled with sadness. It's hard to count gifts of grace when you upset, angry and frustrated. It's hard to give thanks when your in the midst of a valley...to be thankful in the midst of a storm...but when you are down in the depths, truly the only way to look is up and when you look up you can see it. You can see the light....you can see the Light!! His light...His face that holds all the reasons to be thankful....to be joyful! It's not easy but it is possible and so I fight to find the joy in the midst of this storm...I fight because I know He is faithful!

3 gifts found in Christ
His faithfulness in the midst of my storm, His reassurance that He will see me through to the end, His love that leads me, guides me, redirects me...even when I fall off the trail

a gift of peace, of hope, of love
morning time in His word and in prayer, Biblical counsel to see us through, support and prayer of others

3 gifts "ugly-beautiful"
tears...some from being hurt, but some from being hurtful, words...that express where the difficulty has been but lead us to a road of healing, time spent alone...to ponder and think and to realize what I am fighting for 

3 gifts in what you are reading
this Psalm in which I am living rather than just studying, this verse brought to reality and filled with healing truth, the reminder of where my help comes from given to me by my friend Barbie

3 gifts emptied
my thoughts...poured out in hopes to begin healing, his feelings...which began this new direction on a road to wholeness, tear ducts...flowed out often as we work together to find a way

3 gifts that made you really smile
the sense of humor of my beautiful friend Beatrice, watching Bubba play with his cars....lining them all up in a perfect row on the end of his bed before he falls asleep, how Boo is in this "fancy" mode and everything needs to be as such....fancy clothes, fancy food, etc.

a gift at 8, at 12, at 2
my Sunday morning read, how this same verse was reinforced at service that same morning, friends who still want to "do" life with us even when we are not quite ourselves


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

not alone in the darkness

A Simple PrincessI have been studying this Psalm from nearly the beginning of this year and have had so many interesting facts come across my path as I have studied the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep as well as our relationship with The Shepherd as His sheep. As I hit the passage of being made to lie down, I was placed into a position where I needed to sit back and take a break...with a broken finger. God has a way of making Himself known and getting His message across and when we are not prepared to listen He does not hesitate to hammer it home. As I was studying today's verse, nothing could have prepared me for the dark valley I would be in on the week prior to posting this. A wise man (my dad) told me that sometimes you need to be in the valley to truly share how and why you do not fear midst the darkness. So here I am....sharing as I stand in my own dark valley...and I am not alone.

4a. Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

When we become followers of Christ it does not mean we will be free of pain, free of struggle or free of loss. What it does mean is that we will not be alone amidst all of these. Our God did not promise to take us out of these tough places, actually we are told we will have troubles but He did promise He will get us through them. Sometimes He is there to lead us out of the pit, sometimes to hold our hand as we stumble through and other times to pick us up and carry us to the end. Regardless of how deep and dark the valley is, He is there with of us. I know He is there for me...I am clinging to this fact even as I struggle to pick up the pieces and put them back together!
In this fourth verse of Psalm 23, the pronoun changes, did you notice it? The first three verses are not quite as personal, using “He” and "His" whereas in the next three verses they become more intimate, using “You” and "Yours". David's word choice is meaningful, suggesting that when the path is smooth the shepherd leads the way, He goes before us and reinforces the fact that He is there to guide us and will not leave us.
"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
 Deuteronomy 31:8
However, when the path becomes dangerous or frightening, He moves in closer He begins walking beside us, shielding us, protecting us and sometimes even carrying us when we are too weak to continue on our own.


For this very reason we do not need to be afraid, we do not need to feel alone. Remember that the valley is the low area between mountains or hills...there is only one place to go and that is up! Oh I am so glad that my God never lets go...not in the good times and not in the dark valleys! That He will lead me, guide me, carry me up to the mountaintop. Thank you Lord for destroying the enemy...for never letting go, for never leaving me on my own...you are faithful, my God you are faithful!


Take a listen to this song...the words speak straight to my heart...they are the reminder of who God is in my time of need...in the midst of my storm, my battlefield, my deep and dark valley...never once has He left me alone...even when there is only one set of footprints, it is because He has scooped me up into His loving arms! I would love for you to also take a listen to both of these songs. Music has such a powerful way of conveying a message to your heart or interpreting the cry of your heart. If you are in the middle of a valley I know these songs will speak to you, they did me!
I would love for you to link up with your own post on this verse or share in the comments below. Next week we will take on the second part of verse 4...His comforting rod and staff. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

see

"So, here’s the skinny: I’ve been thinking about writing and how often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words. And I figured, why not take 5 minutes and see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing." ~Gypsy Mama

what happens when the rain is tears

and the storm is personal

what happens when you can't see clearly

you can't think clearly

when the storm comes out of the middle of no where

when the lightning strikes

when the thunder rolls

what happens when the storm is out of control

where do you hide

where do you turn

it is times like these that i seem to revert to old habit

 but i am fighting that old self

i am trying to look up

even though the rain is pouring in my face

and i am terrified of the lightning

i am looking up

looking up to Him who can hold me, comfort me, keep me safe

i may not see clearly yet

but i will...when the rain is gone

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