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Currently Browsing: Patience
Jan
15

The Time Scrounger

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I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Revelation 3:8 nkjv

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I seem to have a problem saying yes.

I guess, maybe, I never really learned to say no.

If anyone ever asks me for help, with anything, anything at all, a yes will spill forth tumbling over the ineptness of my brain to conjure up a no in proper time. I have been stricken with zero delegation ability.  Between me and you, most times it seems easier to do it myself than to take time to explain it to someone else.  Because you see, I am always short on time and explaining my perfectionism, well, it takes time…

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It puts me at conflict, leaves me begging God for extra time or maybe just to stop time.  My heart pounds in a panic into the next day, next week, next month leaving me incapable of turning in the right direction; sends me rushing to complete everything all at once, stranding me overwhelmed and exhausted.

So I scrounge for time, keep notes on scraps of paper, remnants of napkins, my hand – whatever is still, available, readily accepts blue ink. I flail in the chaos of overbooked days and grasp for what can not be held: fleeting moments creating a past. In desperation, I wish for the gold watch, wish I could pause time. But only God can.

IMG_0541One afternoon, it is in the midst of sobbing tears and begging prayers, God speaks.  It all sinks in real deep, like water on thirsty earth.  He speaks with clarity; He has placed me on this path and here I will stay because He has called me to this work.

God’s timing is incomprehensibly perfect and forced waiting begets eternal patience.

Another month passes and I grow listless in the tedium of my daily duties, wish I could run away to anywhere else, anywhere but in the midst of this unbearable aching of a neglected dream. Yet in the depths of my heart I know, eventually, it will birth forth from this scrounged and sacred time like a seed emerging from beneath the Spring’s warming soil.  The diligent climb upward, steady and slow, meticulous and tenacious, wholly unnoticed.

So I collect words in stolen time and I wait…IMG_0794

Another day, another week, another month and leaves drift down to earth in bright colors and Thanksgiving looms near and then passes in a flurry and I miss leftover turkey sandwiches altogether because I am never home.

It is only after I return home from pursuing my childhood dream in a week-long adventure, that the phrase is uttered by not one, but two customers in separate circumstances, “You are a true artist,” and those words, they put my mind to working.

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What is art really, but a reflection of divinity, the mark of our Creator.

Too often I put limits on God and what He can accomplish in me, through me.  Too often, I find myself in circumstances that do not match my presumed understanding of what God wants from me and that conflict makes me resentful.  But I must remember I serve God and whatever God desires is worthy of my obedience. The fruit of this gift did not emerge as I imagined it would.  It was a surprise attack from somewhere outside the fray of my carefully crafted plan.

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So as it is, God, the creator of everything and Whose creativity is infinite, chose to instill creativity as an essential part of who I am.  It would be presumptuous and ungrateful to omit His presence from my limited view of who I think I should be. Or what I think I can accomplish. I must remind myself daily: my gifts are not for my use, but God’s own purposes and who am I to judge how the Ancient of Days chooses to use the predetermined gifts He bestowed upon me.

IMG_0979It’s not about what I want to be when I grow up, but about what God wants to accomplish through me so that others see Him; it’s not about achieving the success of a dream because the dream ought to be serving Him.

And these gifts He gives me to use are the rewards of service and obedience.   He is perfecting me for Heaven, not earth.  And these gifts I joyfully employ are earthly rewards that yield an eternal value.

The last three years, the devil has worked diligently for my demise, but God used every trial for my good.  God knew every place I would stumble, every place I would fall right down flat on my face. The necessary trials along the way create in my spirit strength and wisdom.  They keep me focused on God and not the chaos swirling about me. My imperfectness displays God’s perfection just as my weaknesses point to His strength.

In the end I realize, my gift is creativity.  Not writing, not photography, not art. Hand me a pen, a camera or paint and I can show you when, where and how I see God, but these are the ways God allows me to use my gift because they bring me joy.IMG_0969

And then there are those times.  Those times, God plops you right smack down in the middle of someone else’s dream for reasons unknown; you, alone, with no experience to help make it happen; you insistent that your gifts don’t fit this plan or that dream; and that “no” you seemed so tied to and so often wished had spilled forth in lieu of a yes?

It turns out to be the greatest surprise of all because it is in those times, when you stand befuddled and confused, ignorant and insecure, God shows up and shows you what He is capable of.

IMG_1071And I have found, the grandest way to live life is to show up when God calls and follow Him with the expectation of witnessing miracles and receiving lavishly bestowed blessings that reveal His glory to the world.

 

Apr
2

The Sanctuary of Silence

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God is in Heaven and you on Earth. Therefore, let your words be few.
Ecclessiates Scripture on chalkboard

reminder that God's wisdom is infinite and mine is not

I pray these words over my household,
 pray them over myself.  
I am learning silence is a better way. 
 It suits me better anyway.
I try to make this common practice.
My eyes fall upon these words 
as I enter our home
and when I sit to share a meal,
 those words,
they hang above my head as humbly,
with grateful blessings,
I speak to Him.
Though the world and its people
are unpredictable,  uncontrollable….
sanctuary has been gifted.
Wading through the muck of another’s mean words,
it is then I remember…..
Elizabeth at Honey Bee School

attending the Queen at Honey Bee School

Our words are just puffs of air
most are the meaningless, mindless chatter of opinion,
of gossip,
words run amok 
drowning the tongue’s self-control 
flowing across lips in a waterfall of hurt and mean,
dashing the beauty of what is growing under God’s Omnipotent Hand.
Tim Cruse's honeybees

the honeybee's exquisite and precious art.

With a puff of air, God breathes and speaks the world into existence.
With a puff of air,  
my words are meaningless
and I am small.
I long for my words to create
encouragement,
love,
peace,
not be rote in reply, 
not be old habits in motion that stunt growth and happiness.
Unless my words are grown from Holy roots, 
they dare not sprout and be loosed to thrive.
Elizabeth inspecting hives at Honey Bee school

experiencing the divine uniqueness of God

I pray protection over the unholy words spoken to me,
another’s chaotic din rising in wails,
beg they dare not be let to thrive as kudzu consuming
my dream,
 my peace,
my happiness,
my patience and waiting in His stillness.
It is not a requirement of thoughts they be birthed as words if they are not worthy of creation.
One day, all will be held accountable to the thoughts that leave lips 
in words of destruction 
and
in words of creation.
front porch steps spring flowers

front porch steps are a good place to hang out with God

What kind of words will you be held accountable for?

Jul
26

God’s Perfect and Infinite Wisdom

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sunflowersTrust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

 


At a women’s retreat several years ago, I was prayed over and my hands were anointed.  I was told that my hands, specifically, would be used in service to the Lord.  I held onto the words that were spoken to me. Tightly.  I imagined a thousand scenarios where God might use me.  In my mind, the possibilities were endless.  Where I might go and who I might serve hijacked the majority of my thoughts. Then one day, an opportunity was presented to me.  A team of missionaries, who travel to Honduras every four months, were planning their next trip.  Their primary ministry is to dig wells. During their ten day stint, they also provide a Vacation Bible School for the children in the community.  There was no hesitation. I signed up. It was decided that I would oversee the Vacation Bible School.  I planned for weeks.  I scoured the internet for ideas and studied a little Spanish so that I could communicate even though it might be limited.

 

Two months later, the trip was cancelled.  I was devastated. To me, it felt like a punishment of the highest sort.  I begged God for answer, but He was not cooperating. The words of encouragement around me to wait on God were lost on me.  I actually thought that if one more person quoted scripture to me concerning God’s timing or His ways that I could not understand, I would explode leaving nothing but a mushroom cloud where I had stood. I surrounded myself with projects and shut myself off from the world. As far as I was concerned, the presented opportunity had been a sign from God.  Had I really needed to spend a lot of time in prayer?  Why would God have allowed this being presented to me if it were not meant for me to go? Did He not know the secret desires of my heart?

I presented myself with a plethora of reasons about why God would have changed His mind. I was not obsessing, but I really did not understand. And I wanted desperately to understand. This decision God had made, this door He had closed, tripped me up.  Where else would He close doors and why would He close them? To me, I viewed it as a little thing God could have done for me.  I wanted to go on a mission trip.  I wanted to serve Him.  I wanted my heart’s desire, but I had been denied. Or so I thought.

 

For the last few months, a spiritual battle has raged around me.  Troubles attached themselves to me with superglue strength.  No matter what I did, no matter how much I prayed, they hung on determined to bring me low.  Each new day, I found myself crying out to God for peace, and each night I would cry because peace had not come.  Certain God had finally given up on me I began to obsess over the reasons why.  I had a long mental list of all the reasons why God would not want to use me for His Kingdom’s work. Every day, the list grew, and from this ever-growing list, a crushing doubt emerged ready to devour me. I almost convinced myself God did not really have a plan for my life. It left me with an icy emptiness in the middle of my gut. I could feel it as I would sit at my desk attempting to pour words onto pages and all those reasons would clang around in my head…until a month ago.

 

The most amazing thing happened.  I began to experience a warm pulsing in the palms of my hands.  Just the palms. My fingers felt cold, even the tops of my hands felt cold, but my palms felt as if they had been holding a hot cup of tea.  I sat there, eyes closed, remembering snippets of words spoken to me.  I remembered prayers I lifted up to God asking for direction, discernment, signs.  I remembered my hands being anointed, being told I would use my hands to serve other women. I remembered being told that if my palms grew hot, it was a prompting from God to pray for someone near me; if I was alone, then I was to place my hands on myself and pray. And that is exactly what I did.

 

I prayed for God to reveal to me what He was trying to teach me and because He is faithful, He gifted me in that moment an understanding of why He is God and I am not.  He made me understand why His ways are higher than my own.  In His perfect timing, this is what He showed me: visions of me praying for my real heart’s desire – to be a writer. He showed me sitting at a desk, in the bed, in the car – all holding a pencil in my hands. I had never, not once, prayed to go to Honduras to serve Him until the opportunity had presented itself.  My prayers to go to Honduras were not my heart’s desire, but I knew it would do one thing in my confused mind: it would validate me as being His and affirm it was a miracle, not a mistake, that I had survived the car accident no one thought it possible to survive.  It would prove to me, God wanted me to serve Him in a big way, in a way that would change lives. I wanted to know I was important enough, and not too messed up, to serve Him.  More than that, I wanted to prove to God, He could count on me, He could trust me. In the midst of the denial, I should have trusted God instead of trying so very hard to convince Him that He was wrong. It was one of the most humbling moments I have ever experienced. I felt no guilt, no shame.  I did not feel as if God were shaking His Holy finger at me.  He was helping me to understand that He has called me to write and that is where I will serve Him because that is my true calling.  Writing is my heart’s desire because it is the desire He intertwined with my DNA when He knit me together with all the uniqueness of what makes me who I am.

 

And this changes everything. It changes my prayers to Him.  It changes my attitude of acceptance when He answers a prayer differently than I expect.  It changes the why’s into requests for discernment in the midst of my lack of understanding.  It gives me patience to wait on the Lord for direction.  It changes my view of how God sees me.  It gives me pause to recognize my motives for service. It makes me understand that I do not ever have to prove myself to God.  He already knows it all, every second of my well-planned life that He created.  Most of all, He knows my heart even when I do not.  I sometimes wonder if it is in my plan to go on a mission trip to Honduras because there is this part of me that wants so much to accompany others in changing lives somewhere south of the border.  It is in the silence after this last thought, He so very sweetly and gently points out letters that need to be written to our sponsored children there.  And for now, I can best serve Him as I string together words into sentences of encouragement and hope about God’s goodness to those beautiful children I love.

bachelor buttons, blackeyed susans, single magenta cosmos

 

May you abound in His perfect peace and love,

Elizabeth

May
13

My Two Favorite Things: Waiting and Planning

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Elizabeth Marchman flower #34

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31


“I love sleep.  My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”~ Ernest Hemingway


Yes.  I do know.  

We plan. God laughs.  How many times have I heard that particular phrase uttered by those around me?

Yesterday afternoon, for example, a shipment arrived on my front porch.  A shipment that was due to arrive ten days ago.  So on a day when I had planned to write all day long with no interruptions, I had to stop and take care of the contents of the packages.  Why?  Because they were live plants and needed to be unpacked immediately after traveling in a ground UPS shipment for who knows how long.  So the tedious project of unpacking the protective cardboard and plastic and inspecting three boxes of flowers took about two hours.  A two hour interruption that I hadn’t planned on when I did not particularly even want a break.  Then it was time to cook dinner and put away the laundry that I had neglected.  So now I have begun today behind.

I live my life in a state of perpetual behind-ness.  A kind of waiting and planning purgatory that I can never escape.  I am an impatient person.  I have trouble waiting on God even when I know that He knows better than me what is good for me.  Even in those times when I know, deep down, that I am not ready for what I want Him to do in my life.  I still hate the waiting.   I am not good at it and God knows this.  But the things I hate even more are the things I wait on in life.  Those packages that have to be dealt with that never seem to arrive when the time is there to deal with them, they only arrive when the time is spoken for and I am focused.  When I am trying to do what I think God is wants me to do, life just creeps in and gets in the way and I find myself frustrated and screaming to an empty room about it all.  

Yet, we all have to sleep.  Even insomniacs like myself, sleep eventually.  In sleep, I find the perfect excuse to forget about it all until the next morning.  And then things are haywire and out of control again within minutes of waking.  The anxiety begins to build and I am frozen in place, struggling to know which way to turn to organize the daily chaos.  We live in a world where most things that we desire, we can obtain instantly.  I find myself today wishing there were some button I could just push to organize the chaos.  A remote control for my life.  The buttons would be simple – no interruptions would be the big round button in the center.  I would have buttons for the laundry to be done for me, dinner to be on time, no knocks on my office door, telemarketer screening.  Simple things.  Life things.  The pesky little things that get in the way of the important things.  I have learned that when you are a writer, people assume two things.  First, that it is not work and the words just appear with no thought or effort.  Second, your time is flexible enough to work around their schedule.  If I had a “job” and left every morning to go to the office and I had a “boss” that I had to answer to, I would be taken more seriously and my time would be more precious.  The truth is I do go to the office everyday.  It just happens to be in the downstairs of my house.  And I do have a boss and He expects me to get things done without letting everything else get in the way.  He expects me to take my “job” seriously and do my best as perfectly as I am capable of so He can do His.  I will step out here and say that I think this is every bit as important as working a “real” job to pay the bills.  I will also say that just like when that real job gets in the way and something has to be put off for a time, that it is alright if my job gets busy and I have to let the laundry go for a day or two or just very simply shut my office door and not feel guilty about not being there for everybody, every second.

It sounds like I am complaining.  I am not.  This is my own fault and I have just recognized t to be so.  For so long, I haven’t taken myself seriously as a writer.  I haven’t expected to left alone to write and my office door is always open because, first and foremost, I am a wife and a mother.  But now the pressure is on.  I have until July 25th to finish a manuscript, write a proposal and meet with the publisher who has so graciously given up her precious time to meet with me.  

God is saying to me, “I am giving you an opportunity.  Don’t blow it.  I am serious about you and you need to be serious about yourself and what I have asked you to do.”  

Yikes!  
Double gulp! 
And Yikes! again.

So, yes, I love sleep.  Why not?  Everything works out in our dreams.  Somehow though, I know, if God is for me, no one can be against me.  I know that nothing He places His hands on will never stay nothing.  I know in the end, it will all come together.  The note cards and pieces of paper that are taped to the wall and the back of the door that my son calls the “real” chaos will eventually become a manuscript and somehow the proposal will be convincing that the manuscript is worthy of being read.  And someday, when God is ready for it to, that manuscript will become a book on a bookstore shelf that will be plucked off and purchased by the person (hopefully many persons) that need to read the words contained within.  I just have to take God seriously and trust Him to make it all happen.  I know I can not do it without Him because life gets in the way.  I know it will happen again….no, I don’t own a crystal ball.  The shipment that arrived yesterday said that boxes 1, 2 and 3 arrived out of a total of 4.  And God is the only One who knows when it will appear.
Jan
15

The Time Scrounger

I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Revelation 3:8 nkjv   I seem to have a problem saying yes. I guess, maybe, I never really learned to say no. If anyone ever asks me for help, with anything, anything at all, a yes will spill forth tumbling over the ineptness of my brain to...
Apr
2

The Sanctuary of Silence

God is in Heaven and you on Earth. Therefore, let your words be few. I pray these words over my household,  pray them over myself.   I am learning silence is a better way.   It suits me better anyway. I try to make this common practice. My eyes fall upon these words  as I enter our home and when I sit to share a meal,  those words, they hang above my head as humbly, with grateful blessings, I speak to...
Jul
26

God’s Perfect and Infinite Wisdom

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths ~ Proverbs 3:5-6   At a women’s retreat several years ago, I was prayed over and my hands were anointed.  I was told that my hands, specifically, would be used in service to the Lord.  I held onto the words that were spoken to me. Tightly.  I imagined a...
May
13

My Two Favorite Things: Waiting and Planning

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. ~ Isaiah 40:31 “I love sleep.  My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”~ Ernest Hemingway Yes.  I do know.   We plan. God laughs.  How many times have I heard that particular phrase uttered by those...

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