Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fathers and Wisdom

 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance
Proverbs 1:5 

Listen and learn.  Pay attention.  Seek guidance. 
I've been praying a lot about wisdom lately, that God would grant it to me in every area of my life.  I've also started reading my way through Proverbs again, the book of wisdom.  In my Student Bible, there are introductions to each book.  For the book of Proverbs, part of the introduction is titled "A Father's Guidance".  It says "Proverbs is probably the most down-to-earth book in the Bible...The book offers the warm advice you get by growing up in a good family."

I've reflected a lot on the people God has used in my life to help me gain wisdom.  People I have learned from.  My dad is one of those people who has generously and patiently shared much wisdom with me.  Throughout my life, I recall numerous ways he taught my brother and I about little things and big things.  This week I was reminded of him teaching me how to check the oil in my car when the engine started making a funny noise and then the oil pan light lit up on the dashboard.  I quickly realized we hadn't paid as much attention as we should to the maintenance of our car!  (foolish!)  My husband has been out of town so he couldn't do anything about it.  I could have asked others to help me.  Yet I was able to check it and add oil to the engine on my own because my dad taught me how when I was younger.

My dad spent much of his adult life in a career as a stock broker/investment representative.  Whenever I hear the word "investment", I think of my dad.  He taught me a lot about finances and making wise decisions.  He taught me about budgeting, saving, investing, giving and also spending.  My dad also invested a lot in parenting.  Now that I am a parent, I have an even greater appreciation for all that he did.  And I'm sure there is a lot I don't even know about or wasn't aware of him doing.  I do know he sought wisdom from others and read a lot of books.  He spent time with us.  He showed us how to do things.  He was patient with us.  He encouraged us.  He let us try.  He let us fail.  He loved us no matter what and we always knew it.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
Proverbs 3:3-4

I'm beyond thankful for the relationship I still have with my dad.  Recently we were at our family cabin together and he said something to me about how he learns from me (it was in relation to healthy eating...I'm kind of passionate about food and feeding my family well!).  What a blessing it was to me to know that I can help him too.   I'm grateful to God, our Heavenly Father, for blessing me with such a wonderful and wise earthly father.  Father's Day seems like the perfect time to honor my dad and thank him for the influence he has on my life.  Dad, may we continue to grow in our knowledge and fear of the Lord together, gaining wisdom, discernment and guidance along the way - from each other, other people and Our Father.  I love you Daddy and I love you Jesus!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

40+ and Overwhelmed

I've had 365 days to reflect on turning 40.  It's been beautiful.  It's been emotional.  It's been overwhelming.

In my year of 40, I've experienced life in many new ways.  I spent my actual birthday last year skiing with my husband and enjoying the snow covered mountains.  I had a chance to celebrate my birthday with family and friends.  The Spirit moved in me to be baptized again, this time fully immersed in a lake (another blog post will follow about that).  I was able to travel to Alaska for a youth mission trip.  We grieved the loss of our sweet black lab.  I played on the beach by the huge ocean with my family.  I noticed color and clouds and details of nature even more than before.  I gave up sugar for a time period and grew closer to God, learning to crave Him instead.  I gave up coffee for over half the year to discover I don't need it, but I do enjoy it.  I've become bolder in my words and deeds.  I read a book about Boundaries and learned more about where I end and God begins in relationships.  I set goals for many areas of my life and wrote them down.  I wrote out my bucket list.  I had hard conversations with people I love.  I've grown closer in my relationships.  I witnessed hardship and death and grief and suffering and prayed more than ever before.  I have witnessed miraculous healing - physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and in relationships.  I've grown more patient.  And I've still lost my patience!  I've developed more self-control - and have much more to develop.  I took steps of faith in my calling.  I truly learned that when I want to do something because it is easier that I really shouldn't!  Doing the hard thing is the right thing and God will bless it!  I slowed down more to enjoy moments with those I love.  I had days where I just wanted to sit and cry for a while.  I had days when I wanted to be alone.  I had days of wanting to do nothing.  I had days of being energized and ready to accomplish many things.  I went to different churches to experience worship in different ways.  I had people pray over me and for me.  I thoroughly enjoyed a mountain thunderstorm in the middle of the night.  I could go on and on - I have been overwhelmed with life!

It is interesting to me how one word or one experience can have more than one meaning.  The word overwhelmed has often felt, well, overwhelming to me.  Not in a good way.  Like in the verse below.

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  Psalm 61:2 (KJV)

I sat in my car one day last week, feeling overwhelmed and stressed as I thought about many things and the song, Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave came on the radio.  I had just started praying and had my journal with me so I wrote down the lyrics as I heard them.  It was such a perspective shifter!!  I have prayed a lot for God to help me see His perspective.  What perfect timing it was for me to hear that song.

All that You’ve done is so overwhelming
I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

Looking at the dictionary and comparing versions of the same bible verse, here are some other words for overwhelmed: to be without strength, to feel faint, weak, helpless, far from anywhere, down to my last gasp, to cause someone to have too many things to deal with, to defeat someone or something completely, and finally, to affect someone very strongly.

I had breast cancer 14 years ago - an overwhelming experience! - and while that experience does not define me, it has helped shape my perspective on many things.  My perspective on birthdays is that we should celebrate them!  Be thankful for life!  In Holland, the Dutch bring treats to school or work to share with others on their birthday.  What fun!  As I celebrate another year of life, I'm thankful for all the people God has brought into my life.  Thankful for those who have loved me, who have challenged me, who have been prickly and helped me learn more about loving, who have hurt me, who have come into my life briefly, who have made a lasting impression, who have stayed a long time, who have walked with me up hills and through valleys, who have stopped with me to observe and appreciate the view, and those who have overwhelmed me.  And I'm so thankful for all God has done and continues to do to help me live this life to the full!

As I reflect on the past year and look ahead, I see how I have allowed myself to be overwhelmed at times by life - in both good and bad ways.  And I see how God has overwhelmed me with Him!  My prayer is to continue to delight myself in Him, being captivated by Him, soaking in the glory of His presence so that I can always have His perspective on my life and be OVERWHELMED in his beautiful ways!

Warrior Sisters, say that again - God, Overwhelm us with You!!