Monday, November 30, 2009

The Ultimate Gift Exchange

As you know, I've been on hiatus from LINGER for some time now. Nearly six months actually. I apologize to each of you, my friends, as I disappeared without much warning. Truth be told, last Spring, after I shared with you that I would be working on LINGER (the book), I was entering another season of Graves disease, a hyperthyroid autoimmune condition that wreaks havoc with both the mind (no focus, lack of concentration, racing mind etc...) and body. I won't go into further detail, I only ask you to forgive me for not sharing this with you sooner. I'm doing much better, as the thyroid medication is balanced for now. I would appreciate SO MUCH your prayers that I would go into complete remission.

And in the meantime, I offer this as a token of shared faith with you. If you don't know Him... May I introduce you to my Father? And meet His Son, Jesus, the best gift exchange giver of all time...



Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!


2 Corinthians 9:15 (NIV)


Grace. A gift given by our Lord in the ultimate gift exchange. One man, one life, in exchange for all of humanity’s sake.

Ponder the idea, for a few moments, the process of the “gift exchange.” Normally, when we’re invited to a holiday celebration or gathering, our host asks each of us to bring gifts of a certain equal value. So we joyfully venture into the mass of holiday shoppers and scavenge the aisles for nicest possible treasure within our prearranged price range. When we find just the right one, we wait in line, along with the throngs of weary Christmas shoppers.

And finally, we hear those nostalgic words, “Register number seven is open. Please continue to register number 7.” So, we carry our gift to the appointed clerk (whose bewildered face is telltale of his/her day). Of course, the scanner won’t receive the number on the tag, because the tag is ragged from a tear. It seems our treasure was once in the hands of a careless gift-giver whose change of mind landed the trinket back onto the shelf we found it upon. No wonder our treasure was calling from a shelf full of dry goods rather than a shelf full of similar lovelies.

Suddenly (and loudly), our clerk calls for a price check and what do we do? We duck, of course. Our line has been slowed to a snail’s pace because we didn’t check the complete worth of our gift before slipping into place (it reads, $11.9… and that’s the part that’s missing). Worn out shoppers still waiting behind us, sigh in dread. Their collective groan gives us pause in the middle of our joyful task and we sigh along with them.

Beaten down, we finally emerge from the store with our treasure, wondering if our holiday happiness will ever reappear. Must we start all over again? Or can we catch the season-sentimentality from this point forward—as if it never left? We shut the car door behind us, turn the key and meander out of the crowded parking lot. Maybe some Christmas music will help. Slowly, our seasonal spirit begins to rise in our hearts.

We arrive home and hunt for last season’s Christmas paper (we haven’t had the chance to buy this year’s yet). We hum a holiday tune as we tape the paper closed. No one peeks this year. And we smile in delight as we disguise our handwriting on the gift card. It is a secret after all, right?

The day of our gathering arrives. All is well, our holiday joy firmly in place. Hot cider warms our hands as we wrap them around our Christmas mugs. Songs of “Jingle Bells” and “Let It Snow” fill the room and we mingle with old friends and cheerfully meet new ones.

The process of the gift exchange comes to a close as the celebration ends, and we drive home with new treasures of a certain equal value.

And we do it all over again next year…


Grace. A gift given by our Lord in the ultimate gift exchange. One man, one life, in exchange for all of humanity’s sake.


So different, my Lord, from Your idea of the ultimate gift exchange. You gave Your All… First, You exchanged Your home in Heaven—Your Throne—to be born of a common, yet extraordinary young woman. Her betrothed had not yet known her, as this Child was Your Son. You grew into a gentle man, full of LOVE for hmanity—Your creation. You healed, You loved, You taught, and You asked nothing in return. You only gave. And gave.

And then You GAVE…

You gave for ALL asking nothing in return... for the moment.

Your humanity bled out of Your body as You offered Your life—Your LIFE, so that we may receive eternal life; grace—life with You, forever and ever.

And You seek only our humble lives in return. Hardly of certain equal value. Yet it is all You require. All You desire.

Here it is, LORD. Yes, my life in exchange for Yours. I don’t understand. I never will. But I’m eternally grateful to be able to participate in this gift exchange. Hardly worthy, but just as I am, LORD. All.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

LINGER

As you've probably noticed, I didn't post on LINGER last week. I apologize for that. There is a reason. And it's this...

I'm taking a few week off on the blog to answer to the call of the book, LINGER. That's right, time to take some of your wonderful insight and blend it into the book in production. NOW, just so you know, I do not have a contract on this book, but hope to present the proposal to my agent to pursue one soon.

When I get back to this blog, I will let you know how the project is progressing. Thank you for ALL of your valuable input. I'll email each one of you when I post again in the future.

In the meantime, join me on Twitter - sharenwatson - where I'll keep you posted about Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild and with all around inspirational stuff :-)

Thank you again for your input thus far... and I look forward to blogging with y'all again soon.

Under His Grace,
Sharen

Monday, March 30, 2009

LINGERing in the Desert

Can I just say it right now? I'm not a desert dweller. I like trees... and grass... and well, green. That's not to say I don't appreciate the desert. My husband introduced me to the desert in order to meet his parents (and again to announce our engagement). And I've visited many times over the nearly 30 years we've been married. The desert has some qualities I adore... Like the brilliance of the night sky and scape of the dunes.

Yet it is dry. Very dry.

... And sometimes we dwell in the spiritual desert. And it is hard. Our prayers become unfocused. Our hearts become anxious. And we long for a huge spiritual drink. Sometimes, however, we remain thirsty.

Desert experiences are all through the Bible. One of the most notable: the Israelites wandered in one for 40 year before they (the next generation) were allowed to enter the Promised Land. According to Deuteronomy 8:2 (NIV), the Lord led them "all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands." And during this time, He showed them many signs and wonders to encourage their faith in Him. Their clothes didn't even wear out. Can you imagine?

And then there was David. David escaped from Saul, and "stayed in the desert stronghold and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph" Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands." 1 Samuel 23:14 (NIV). The desert, though physically uncomfortable to live in, was a refuge for David - a safe place. It was in the desert that he won some of his greatest victories, yet wrote some of the most heart wrenching Psalms.

... And then, Jesus. "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." Matthew 4:1 (NIV). Our Lord was led into the desert - BY THE SPIRIT - where He was tempted by the Devil for 40 days. That's over a month. In my book, that's a long time. Yet, the victory of Jesus' outcome was nothing less than well... Victorious!

It seems none of the desert experiences in the Bible were pleasant. But read them again. They were faith building. They were safe. And they led to victory.

How do you react when you find yourself in a spiritual desert? How do you LINGER with the Lord? Do you LINGER with Him, or do you isolate yourself from everyone, including Him?

Desert dwelling takes survival skills. And there are necessary items one must have in possession for such a journey. First and foremost, is the Word of God. It's not always easy to concentrate on the Word when you're thirsty, but it is vital. In it, you will find your nourishment. Secondly, you must stay in communication with the Father. The words you would like to speak become few and far between as you listen, but permission is granted to cry out (see David).

What else? Tell me about ways you've learned to LINGER in the deserts of your spiritual journeys. We all need a drink now and then. What better place to offer one...

Monday, March 23, 2009

LINGERing - In the Meantime

Wait.

No. Don't just wait.

Wait patiently.

Few things in life are more difficult. More frustrating. More exasperating than having to wait. Our society today abhors waiting. Everything is fast. Technology is at our beckon call. Our phones do everything for us. They scan the Internet, call anyone, anywhere, anytime. They keep us connected with social networks; and direct us when we get lost on the road to our desired destination.

Food is in our hands no sooner than we pull up to the little window and hand over our hard-earned money. Gone are the days when we called our children's teachers to make an conference appointment. Everything we need to know about their progress is available for viewing online at the simple entry of a password.

It's a wonder we've run out of patience. I remember paging my husband and waiting for his call (whenever he could get to a landline phone). Now, I call; he answers. Or vice-versa. Instant results in an instant society. Just add water. Stir, and voila! Life without the wait.

And when the Lord calls on us to wait, we cringe. We fidget. We try to fill every waiting moment with some sort of activity. The interim hardly reflects our obedience to ... wait.

Hence our topic for the week. LINGERing in the meantime. There are few things as difficult. Perhaps you never thought about it until now. That's probably because you've not been obedient to the call to stop... and wait. Because it's the hard thing. Understood. But we must realized, it's the RIGHT thing to do.

*Remember guilt and judgment hold no place on this blog. It's a place to share openly. It is my prayerful goal to assist you along your journey - as you assist me - with real life, relevant answers to the challenges of how-to LINGER with our Lord smack in the middle of our hectic lives (maybe better interpreted, lifestyles). AND, more importantly, this is a place to minister to one another with God's Word. He is, after all, our ONLY reason for LINGERing.

So... You've prayed for direction. You're sure you've received an answer. He's leading you to minister, somehow, some way. We are His vessels, open to His use, anywhere, anytime. What that looks like? I have no idea until it happens. One person perhaps, maybe two. Maybe a multitude? It matters not. It's all in His time. It's all according to His will. It's the best way.

Now, what do we do with the call? Or better asked, what do we do in the meantime until the call comes to fruition? Do we just wither away in our constant cries of "when, Lord?" becoming more frustrated than encouraged? Do we focus on the impossibly faraway goal or on the present? Are we willing to keep our meantime filled with LINGERing moments of praise and fellowship as we enjoy - though sometimes simply endure - His process of winnowing the chaff before the harvest is complete?

Do you LINGER patiently? Or do your LINGER anxiously? To answer my own question, I've LINGERED both ways. I can tell you from experience, that LINGERing patiently is the better way. Because it's His way. It is.

How about you?

Monday, March 16, 2009

LINGERing - In The Undone-ness of Life

During the past 2 1/2 months we've talked about the everyday-ness of LINGERing. We've discussed LINGER interruption, and we've contemplated ways that make the art of LINGERing just a little easier. Our discussion has been frank. What does LINGER look like in the life of the everyday woman? We've LINGERed together with a song by Kari Jobe. (If anyone has missed any of this and you'd like to see where we've been, please go back into the archives of this blog). It's been such joy to share my own journey with you, and I pray that it's been yours as well.

LINGER thus far has been light - full of spiritual Truth, absolutely - but fairly light. But I blame the word LINGER entirely for that. The word LINGER invokes feelings of coziness, warmth, peace, and unlimited time. In fact, some of my own thoughts toward the word LINGER leave me craving a cup of steaming coffee or fragrant tea. It inspires thoughts of a welcoming home, clean and organized. A comfortable throw over my shoulders. And maybe, if it's winter, a crackling fire in the fireplace.

And sometimes, my LINGER time does looks like that. But most of the time, it doesn't. And, you know what? It's okay. In fact, it's perfect when it's just a bit undone. And on the heels of our undone lives, this week begins a new segment of LINGER. A segment that may be a bit unsettling, but necessary if we are to face LINGER moments in REAL life. This part of the journey is not for the faint of heart, but for the faithful of heart.

So much of REAL life is just plain messy. It's painful, it's fearsome and it's grievous. It oftentimes takes us by complete surprise, and not always in a good way. How do we LINGER in the messiness of life? How do we LINGER when hope fails us, when our faith struggles. How do we LINGER in times of injustice, and times of physical pain? How do we LINGER when the economy throws us into financial distress? How do we LINGER when marriages fall apart, when our prodigals move further and further from us - and the Lord?

What happens to LINGERing when life is hard?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Linger - You have HIS permission

...Do you have your own?

Our days are filled with the constant clamor of responsibilities begging for our attention. Needful things. And we pursue the to-do list with tenacity. Day-after-day, hour-by-hour, our clock ticks down the moments toward each day's end. Is there ever enough time to complete every little thing? I'll venture a guess. No.

Mornings are abuzz with activity - and thought for more activity - and we press through our daily grind, checking off the to-do list with vengeance. Yet when the sky turns dark and our eyelids grow heavy, our minds are still scattered with relics from our day, and strolling into the throne room to meet with the Father is the first thing on our mind that is rarely accomplished.

But ladies, the veil is torn. We have complete access and are free to abide with our Father. Anytime. So, what is it that holds us at arm’s length from Him? Why is it seemingly so difficult to go on into the throne room and hang out there? We have His permission to hang out while we grocery shop, mop floors, and prepare that presentation for the boss. We can hang out in the middle of any activity of the day.

Do we wear the busyness of our everyday, all day, and then expect to clean up good before we attempt to even peek into His domain? And then, will our fa├žade suddenly fall apart, taking on our everyday existence, clearly inferior for lingering in the King’s presence? Who gives us permission to enter, let alone LINGER there?

Daily obligations and responsibility often keep women from lingering in the Throne Room, but it needn't be. We can burst in anytime we want to, and we can simply dwell there, no matter what the day holds.

Again, I ask you... You have HIS permission to LINGER with the King, do you have your own?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

To BE, or NOT

Sometimes Jesus calls us away with Him. He wants our rapt attention. Or He just desires us to simply BE with Him. No agenda, no doing - just BE there. He called His disciples to BE with Him when He prayed in Gethsemane. He called them to come away to a quiet place when they had been spiritually and physically spent (Mark 6:31; NIV).

... and He calls you too. To just BE with Him. No matter what's going on in your life. No matter the good, the bad, the joy or the struggle. He calls you to just BE with Him.

One of my favorite Scriptures-the one that drew me ever closer to the Father's heart-is Song of Solomon 2:10 (NIV):

My lover spoke and said to me,
"Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, and come with me.


I remember when this portion of Scripture moved me so deeply. The soothing, lovely words personalized God's love and desire for my company. The words fell on my busy heart, soothing it with with His sweet agape. At that point in my life, I had been all about DOING for the Lord, not BEING with Him. In a single moment, He gave me a new awareness. This lesson was sweet; the attention, tender.

Realization of BEING in God's presence took on a brand new meaning. If I DO because He calls me to, I DO with and in His presence - LINGERing. If I just BE, I'm still in His presence - LINGERing. And the same goes for you. Nothing changes.

LINGER in the DOING; and LINGER in the BEING. Both are equally important. Both are vital in relationship with Christ. It is what He desires. It is His good plan. And it is preparation for a grand eternity.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Adoration

This week, my heart cries out in adoration to our God, our King, our Savior, JESUS! How can I express the praise rising up in my spirit. His presence is overwhelming...

Shall I sing for You, Lord?
Shall I shout for You, Lord?
Shall I throw my hands in the air?
Shall I dance for You - with You, my Prince of Peace?

Do you, at times, feel the same? Overwhelmed with His constant there-ness? I know He never leaves, and yet there are those times when my perception of Him is more acute. Yes, more finely tuned. During those times, I am awestruck by Him. And my desire to express this devotion feels beyond my human capability.

And sometimes I dance...

Yes, you read that right. Sometimes, I dance. I twirl, I curtsy, I stand high on my toes and throw my hands in the air, lifting my head to my Creator. Eyes open, eyes closed, head bowed and sometimes lifted high. I do the best ballet I know - without any formal training.

And once, I performed in public, unbeknownst to me, and to my utter embarrassment. I'll never forget. Only a few months of settling into my new Texas home (the first time around), as was to my custom, I flipped on the worship music - nice and loud. The sun streaming in through uncovered rear windows swayed and dipped along with my pirouetting shadow.

And then, I opened my eyes. Staring back at me were two cable workers accessing my backyard over our rear fence. Construction was everywhere in the neighborhood, and the home being built behind me apparently shared the same wire we used. And since the cable tower resided in my family's backyard, the fact that they were there didn't frighten me. But it certainly startled me.

Even more startled though - I do believe - were the cable guys. I don't thing they had ever beheld such a sight. Though surely more women dance before the Lord on a regular basis? And surely they've seen it before, right? Well, if they had, they were not letting on.

As for me? I blushed, simply waved, and walked into a more private room.

... And the music played.
... And I continued my dance.

What about you? What are some of your favorite postures of praise? And how do you incorporate them into your LINGER time? I'm asking for your transparency here. Your freedom of expression in worship may help set someone else free to do the same.

OH, and one more thing. How do you include family members into your times of worship, especially if you have young children who are home with you on a consistent basis? OR if you live alone, how do you enjoy your LINGER time?

Here is a short-list of a variety of ways I've LINGERED with the Lord (will you add yours?):

1. Simple dialogue
2. Kneeling before Him
3. Dancing
4. Singing
5. Face to the floor
6. Outstretched hands
7. Worship while working (What does this look like in your life?)

I look forward to reading and learning from your LINGER moments. Be blessed this week as you abide with God in your everyday moments.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Own Worst Saboteur

This week, I'm going to shift directions - just a little.

Our topic? SABOTAGE.

Specifically? SABOTAGE-ing our LINGER time. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies when it comes to LINGER-ing with our Father. Our deep desire is to pause from the everydayness of our lives to answer God's invitation to LINGER. But can we? Our families require our homemaking skills. Our communities beckon for more and more volunteers. Our careers demand our attention. Our churches appeal to our spiritual gifting. All of these are important; all are worth our time. But what about God?

In the midst of our everyday flurry, our Lord eagerly, yet patiently, awaits our attention. And we yearn for one-on-one moments with Him. More than moments, our hearts are desperate for hours with Him. LINGER reasons with the logic of do and do until in concedes to what needs doing. And again, we are left with our unfulfilled longing for more of Him.

We have once again sabotaged our desire. Yet, He relentlessly continues His pursuit of us. Why? He created us with a bond of eternal proportion. It's not about the here and now - not completely. It's really about then - Eternity.

I have to tell you, I love fairytales. Most specifically, I LOVE the story of Cinderella. I LOVE the happy ending. And I love the romance of it all. However, as I've grown older, I've delved more deeply into the story - in segments - to find the allegory of Christian women today. And I believe I found it.

Cinderella sabotaged her happy ending. Sure, all ended well, however, it could have ended well much more quickly. Cinderella didn't feel worthy of the Prince's forever love - A fairytale paradigm of the present. Cinderella spent only as much time with her prince as was allowed. And then... whoosh! Back to real life. Back to the do-and-do of real life - without her prince. It was only for a moment after all. Just a taste. Not forever.

But back to the ball... Oh how she danced! Free in the arms of her prince. All was well, except the caveat of the clock ticking the hours to minutes, minutes to seconds. Her enjoyment of the ball was immense, yet with the conscious threat of leaving growing closer with each waltz, how much of the prince's attention did she miss?

What do we miss during our times with the Lord when our minds periodically fixate on the do-and-do of our day? Yes, we are enjoying the presence of God. But can it be fuller, richer. Are we missing anything at all - the slightest thing?

Do we sabotage our own time with our Lord? Do I? Do you?

Will you discuss your own experiences of SABOTAGE, as it relates to your LINGER time with the Father?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Why?

One thought occurs to me this morning. Yes, just one so far because I haven't had my coffee yet. But it is a challenging thought, so before I sip from my favorite mug, I"m going to drink deeply from His cup... because I'm parched. My sweet friends, this week, it's my turn to be transparent with you.

My question for you is this: Why, OH WHY would God have any desire to spend quality time with me?

I know by faith, He wants my attention.

I know by faith, He deeply loves me.

I know by faith, He longs to hear me raise my voice in worship.

I know all this by faith. I hear His voice calling for my presence.

He, our MOST HIGH GOD is relentless in His pursuit of us - of me - of you. By faith, I know this, but WHY? And if we knew the answer to that question, would our Linger time increase? Would it transform?

...My dear sisters, another thought just occurred to me. I'm going to stay real here. And at the risk of being vulnerable, I'm not going to revisit, delete or discredit my questions from above. However, I am going to tell you what I just now, this very moment, heard in my spirit. I pray it profoundly ministers to you, as it just did to me. My parched soul is finding relief as I type these words.

I (We) do NOT need to know, and can't humanly understand the WHY of His desire for me (us). I (We) only need TRUST in knowing He does. The question of WHY now becomes a question of TRUST through faith. In every question above, I interrupted the dialogue with, by faith. And this is something I do know about faith:

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 (NIV)

AS a result of this revelation today, my challenge to you (and me) is this. Will you join me in search of Scriptures that assure us of God's desire of our presence - Scriptures that share His pursuit of us? Let me start with one of my favorite Scriptures of God's attention to me (and you):

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

I'm so completely blessed by these words - The Word - this morning. Thank you for allowing me to be completely transparent with you. We are, after all, on this life journey together. Let's Linger in fellowship not only with our Lord, but together to encourage one another.

Scriptures?

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Beckoning

Lush pine, enticing citrus blossoms, heady fragrance of deep florals and fauna. Soft soil beneath His feet. Every step leads Him closer. The Lord. Walking through His creation - the Garden of Eden - during the cool of the day. He beckons for Adam and Eve, His children, to join Him as they had numerous times before.

... Only this time is different, Adam and Eve attempt to hide from the very One who loves them most. Drawn to Him, yet deeply ashamed. Yearning for Him, yet immobilized by their sin. Even so, pure Love in His voice drives them from their hiding place...

... into the arms of Grace.

Do you sometimes feel that way? I mean, why would the God of the Universe call for me? I'm a far, far cry from holy. Shouldn't I change some things in my life before attempting to spend quality time with Him?

Yet, I hear His call. His beckoning. Even in the middle of the mess of who I am, He still desires to LINGER with me. Oh... and how I desire to LINGER with Him. I'm so thirsty. Do you feel Him drawing you too?

Come.


Come my children and listen to me... Ps. 34:11

"Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord..." Isaiah 1:18

"Or else let them come to me for refuge..." Isaiah 27:5

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

"All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." John 6:37


Do you hear Him in the rolling thunder? Do you hear Him calling on the gentle breeze? Do you hear Him in the cry of your little one? Do you hear Him in the stillness. Do you hear Him calling you through His Word? Read the above Scriptures above again. Read them as His personal invitation to you.

Come.

How can we respond to Him? The One who loves us beyond our understanding. The Holy One... Abba. Daddy God. How do we respond?

The reality is, most of us live our lives by the pages of a well-worn calendar. So many activities clutter our hours each day. How do we dare even tiptoe into the throne room? Our minds are a jumbled mess of to-do's. It's all about tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll spend time with Him. Tomorrow I'll clear my calendar. Tomorrow I'll be better prepared. Have you noticed that we don't live in the moment anymore?

How do we, as the frazzled women we are, bring Christ into our daily moments - ALL of them? There is the short answer. And that is: He IS in our daily moments. And HE IS. But let's look deeper... How do we consciously connect with His unending, always-open invitation to settle ourselves into the throne room in middle of our chaotic days?

For those of you with young children... How do you LINGER with Him while mothering? Caregivers... how do you LINGER while caring for a loved one/loved ones? Women in the workforce, how do you LINGER with your God in the middle of daily business? How creative are you in finding LINGER moments with God through the grind of each day? Will you share them here? Perhaps your encouraging words will offer an answer to the challenge of lingering for someone perusing this blog today - or tomorrow.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Linger... in Melody

I can't think of anything better than hanging out with my girlfriends. And is there anything better than Lingering for just a few minutes with our Father - together? Transparent conversation and open hearts. How I thank God for each one of you.

Today, I want us to Linger a little differently here. I know you have the time, or you wouldn't have ventured this way to begin with. The reason I want to use this form of media to Linger this week is because we posted about music as being a source of saturation from the Lord. Would you find time (daily) this week to hit the play button and interact with the message that Kari Jobe brings from the Lord? In fact, listen for glimmers of the Word in the melody she sings.

And Linger...





Are you still thirsty? Or did He fill your cup? Will you share? In fact, will you share each day as He offers something new? I want to read words from your heart. Words He's given you as you as you've Lingered with Him through song.

Day after day, you'll become more acquainted with the lyrics and melody; and you'll find yourself singing easily along. Enjoy, relish, Linger in His presence. Let Him wrap His loving arms around you. It's just a few minutes each day. You can. And I'll join you.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Saturated... The Word of God

Ladies, your transparent conversation is SOoooo refreshing. I’ve enjoyed every bit of our interaction so far, and can’t wait to read more. Last week, we discussed how interruption, well… interrupts our time with the Lord. Whether the distraction is of our own making, or from some kind of outside influence, interruption interferes with our God time and can be very frustrating.

On the other hand, we heard from a couple of you who talked about interruption as sometimes being orchestrated by the Lord to capture our attention. Certainly, we should be aware that the Lord can and will use any means He chooses to influence us to pursue His will, but how do we listen? How do we define His voice from everyday distraction? How do we listen distinctly for Him when the enemy would like nothing more than to sway our attention from our Father’s voice to his own?

Two words… The Word. Reading God’s love letter to us is one sure way we define the Father’s voice from the enemy’s. But if we are interrupted or distracted from our reading, how can we fill up on the Word? Think outside of the box, pray and allow the Lord to show you new, creative ways to hear and see His Word. And then, will you share your ideas with us? Perhaps you’ve already found an out-of-the-ordinary way to feed on the Word of God. Will you tell us what works for you?

We need His Word for so many reasons. To name just a very few…

·      Luke 8:11 The seed is the Word of God.

·      John 17:17 His Word is truth.

·      Ephesians 6:17 The word of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

·      Hebrews 4:12 The Word of God is living and active.

·      1 Peter 1:23 The Word of God is living and enduring.

·      1 John 2:5 In we obey His Word, God’s love is made complete in us.

·      Rev. 19:13 His name is the Word of God.

This list is by no means, complete, but it declares the power of the Word, the aliveness of the Word, the Son of God of the Word, Jesus. Tell us, how do you saturate yourself in His Word everyday? 

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Interruption, 'ruption... What's Your Function?

Last week’s post, It’s Not Your Mother’s Quiet-Time spurred some healthy and worthy-of-note conversation. If you haven’t had a chance to read last week’s comments, you may want to review our conversation. And ladies… conversation through this blog network is exactly what I’m hoping for. My desire is that we will all interact according to the topic of each week.

And BRAVO for the first couple of weeks You’ve done well. I love the way each of you presented your comments. Authenticity is so important to a topic like Linger. Some of you (and you know who you are J) desperately wanted to plunge into the weeks ahead; and even though I SO wanted to go there with you, I restrained my dancing fingertips to slow the progress – just a little.  

Alright, now that the Linger blog-stage has been set, it’s time for us to tackle a topic we can all relate to…. INTERRUPTION. As you read this post, will you ponder the interruptions of your own life? And think about ways you weave your course of conversation with the Lord through one disruption after another.  Do you hit the pause button – tell the Father you’ll be right back? Or does it dawn on you, later in the day, that you left the conversation somewhere between “Good morning, Lord and AMEN?

Interruption is typically reserved for two-way dialogue or interaction with others, and over the course of life, all of us have experienced it in one way or another—more times than we can count. Whether we’re listening to the Lord through reading His Word or making a conscious effort to be still, waiting for His voice during prayer, we almost always face interruption. Sometimes it comes from an outside source, in the form of another person, activity or distraction, demanding or grabbing our attention. And other times, it is internal, such as our internal thoughts chasing a bunny-trail smack in the middle of our time with the Lord. 

Will you share some of your own personal experiences of interruption? Did you recognize it when it happened and take 10 from time with the Lord? Or did you seemingly just drift from your one-on-one with Him into another activity or thought process?

Here’s just one (of many) of my experiences:

 One of my favorite times to pray is right before I sleep. I love to conversing with the Lord during the last quiet moments before slumber. Some of these times have been most precious to me. Other times, slumber comes before I utter AMEN. And sometimes, I’m really praying for something close to my heart, yet even so, my eyes become a natural barrier between awake and asleep. In this particular case, sleep becomes the interruption, robbing me of listening - stealing my words at the end of the day.

Granted, it takes discipline to pray while physically exhausted (and in bed), but it’s become habit. I enjoy sharing my day and last minute requests with the Father before I doze. Sometimes I get to AMEN; sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m frustrated with my lack of discipline to finish; other times, I simply welcome the rest.

I know there are many more interruption experiences, and mine barely begins to touch on the wide scope of them. Share yours?

Flight Delay...

Due to travels these past four days, Linger will be updated this evening (Tuesday) for the week of January 12. I apologize for the delay, and am looking forward to your input on the topic of:
 
Interruption... What's Your Function? 

See you all tonight...
Sharen

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Warning: It's NOT Your Mother's Quiet-Time



I remember giving my life to the Lord - I was 14 years old.  A nudge from a friend sitting next to me and my heart already stirring with anticipation, set my legs into motion, carrying me from my seat to the altar. I'll never forget that night, which led to my pursuit of God and all things "church." If the youth church doors were open, I was there. If youth camp was happening, you guessed it, I was there. I LOVED church then, and I still do.

My ECYs-early church years-were filled with brand new Biblical and Christian lifestyle concepts; and I couldn't get enough of Bible study or worship. My discovery of Christ overwhelmed me in a wonderful way, so I pursued a deeper relationship with the One I called my Savior, and I still do.

Through core groups (small groups for teens), I pledged to spend an hour each day with the Bible and my Lord, not just at church, but at home. Wow. I moved through the rest of my teen years full of guilt with a pledge for the most part unkept. Accomplished on the days I set aside my hour, yet self-condemned on the days I didn't, I felt like a failure, mediocre at best in my walk with Christ - and sometimes, I still do.

Do you?

Years later, I'm a far-cry from that teenage girl, but the challenge of quiet-time in the "spend-an- hour-in-prayer-and-Bible-reading-everyday" sense, still haunts me on occasion. Especially when the day has sped by and I'm jolted from near dozing by the thought of, I missed my hour with the Lord today. I breathe a prayer, asking God to please forgive me. And again, sometimes, I still do. 

Ladies, transparent conversation starts here and now. Will you share your feelings authentically? Do you feel guilty for missed time with the Lord? What is it that keeps you from quiet-time? Work? Family? How do you feel when the day whisks by and you haven't had a moment, let alone a full hour, to be still before God - with Him. Do you feel like you've neglected an obligation? How do you move beyond that? Do you? Or do you tell yourself you'll start over and tomorrow you'll do better?

First and foremost, as the foundation for Linger is laid, my intention is not to make you feel guilty or condemn you for misuse of your daily time. No one can do that, and His Word declares why:

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."
Romans 8:1-2 (NIV)

Girls, this is just the beginning of our journey. And where best to start, but at the very beginning of a challenge. Take a look at the above questions again. Will you join me in sharing your thoughts and experiences? For the sake of our journey, we're not looking for answers to our dilemma - yet. I believe we will first be encouraged by knowing we're not the only ones, but that we all struggle when it comes to our mother's version of quiet-time. And my prayer is that through our upcoming weeks - months - together, we will find it is easier to Linger with our Savior, constantly and consistently. 

Here we go...



Thursday, January 1, 2009

Introducing LINGER... A Fresh Concept for a New Year



2009. 

A New Year. 

A Brand New Blog. 

And a subject I am most passionate about - Abiding in God's presence. 

Constantly. 

Consistently.  

But what does that really look like, especially in the midst of a woman's chaotic life? This is the question I will endeavor to practically and creatively address together with you. Girls, our lives may look completely different, but I guarantee each of us struggles with the balancing act of our daily routines. Lingering conversation and devotions with God are often some of the first things cast aside, reserved for more reverent times - quieter times. 

Need it be so?

Oh ladies, I can hardly wait to begin seeking His presence more fully with you. Will you join me in discovering what quiet-time really is, and how we can enjoy God's presence in ways we may have never considered? 

As a desired participant, you are most welcome to comment freely with your own experiences and stories. In fact, I encourage your feedback. This blog is the humble beginnings of a book I'm currently preparing and if you wouldn't mind, I'd like to possibly include your thoughts in the text - with your permission, of course. But before that - for now - I'm ready begin our journey into The Art of Lingering. Are you? Oh, I pray so...

It's a good year for a new concept. And always a good year for Lingering with the Father.