How to simmer a stew

Get yourself a pot.  Pour in tight margins at work, bad sleep patterns, and too little time in the Word.  Put yourself some unmet expectations in along with old struggles you’ve dealt with in the past.  Stir until you see it bubbling.  Reduce heat and cover, letting the old beliefs rise to the surface.  Keep the lid on, letting the old beliefs thicken until they form an unrecognizable lump of discontentment and peevishness. 

I’m pretty good at making stews (literally and figuratively).  But I’d like to get better at making soup.  I just looked up the difference between the two.  While a stew has to do with simmering  and cooking something down… envision a thick chunky bowl where the “juice” has become thickened by the potatoes or other starches… a soup has more of a broth base.  It’s perhaps clearer, the flavors more distinct, the components more identifiable. 

Applying the spiritual ideas from the above stew, I would say a soup would have a clarity, a simplicity, and a comfort to it.  If I were to alter the way I’m cooking, I would start with a fresh base of rest and ease (sleep, at least an attempt at healthy margins, pursuit of relationships).  To this I would add a generous supply of TRUTH that comes from time in the Word.  When I add the truth in, it would have a natural result of causing the old beliefs to rise to the surface.  You want to skim those off because they can have a bitter affect on the taste of your soup.  Worship through personal prayer and time with others would be the perfect accompaniment to this soup.

While there are definite gaps in my ponderings about spiritual soups and stews :), I write about them fresh off of making myself a stew.  The figurative kind unfortunately.  For the last 4 or 5 days, I’ve really wrestled with the Lord re: unmet expectations and old beliefs from the past.  You know, the kind that you have done good work on, and have dealt with them as much as you could at the time… yet they pop up unexpectedly in pursuit of sabotage to your peace and hope in Jesus. 

It has taken me a few days,  but I am skimming the bitter stuff off the top.  I don’t have answers for my aches and longings, at least not the emotionally satisfying ones that I want.  But I do know that pandering to them apart from Truth will only leave me discontent and bitter… and I want nothing to do with bitterness!  I want to be the woman that grace and truth flow through, bringing sweet encouragement to those that are in close proximity.  I want to create space in my life for God to sweeten my heart and my hopes toward Him.

I choose to make a soup.  Care to join me for a bowl?

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This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through…

If you grew up listening to Gospel music, this phrase probably rings a bell. “…I can’t feel at home in this world anymore” comes soon after in the song. Do you ever feel just weary and bombarded by the darkness of the world?
I’m doing fine. I had a day off today. I got a great walk in. I’m hopeful about the future.
Yet, I feel the messages of the world pressing in. I just finished watching Defiance. Daniel Craig and Leiv Schreiber star as 2 of the Bielski brothers who unwittingly become caretakers/leaders of an ever growing group of Polish and Belorussian survivors in the midst of the Holocaust. I find myself drawn to stories about Jews during the Holocaust, having seen Auschwitz in person, and walked through the streets of Poland. I never forget the grief I felt.
As I sit here typing this, I hear news of Chastity Bono’s sex change plans faintly on the tv.
Today on Facebook, I poked around on several profiles from folks in my past. 2 were blatantly living lesbian lifestyles.  I was blanching at how openly these women talked about their choices.
Foxnews.com has almost as much gossip as it does true news… at least that’s what it feels like lately!
I think of myself as Anne Shirley, the eternally optomistic redhead, sometimes. Where did she go? And who is this woman who is seeing a glass half empty tonite?
One of my greatest fears these days is becoming calloused to the world around me. Not feeling the lostness of people. Not longing for eternity, but instead feeling content with my journey with the Lord and with others.
So, this weariness should be a good thing right? Confirmation that I’m not getting calloused and accepting? I’m not ready to say that. The journey to stay in the word and dig deeply is a hard struggle. The last couple of weeks staying up and getting up late has been a pattern.
Wednesday nite at home group, I referred to the passage in John 7, where Jesus promises “rivers of living water”, meaning the Holy Spirit coursing through our lives. It’s lingering on my mind. Am I experiencing lifegiving water springing up from a depth and with such force that you cannot contain it? Or am I standing in the shallows and scooping up water with my hands?
Oh Father, you have given us Jesus, alive in Your Word, and the Holy Spirit, alive in our hearts. Would we be vessels that cannot contain the force and power? Would Your Son and Your Spirit soothe our hearts that are road weary and consume our minds with a passion for more? You can do this, and we are thankful.

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“I’d love to live on a mountaintop”

Many of you may not remember listening to Amy Grant in the early years.  I  was a member of a music club.  You know, like Columbia, where you get the post card to order music and before long you’re getting albums from folks you’ve never heard of because you have to choose!!!  (I felt my pulse racing faster as I remembered the pressure I felt to order)

Anyway, Amy Grant sang a song that went like this… “I’d love to live on a mountain top fellowshipping with my Lord, I’d love to stand on a mountain top ’cause I love to feel my spirit soar…”  This past weekend I ran away from home to Gatlinburg, TN.  I got to spend time with a dear friend and tuck away to be alone with the Lord all in a glorious setting.  No, no… not in downtown Gatlinburg!  That’s enough salt water taffy and fudge to choke a cow!  But in the Smoky Mountains, just above Gatlinburg. 

Having had time in both the Rocky Mountains and the Smoky Mountains I would have to say there is no comparison.  Yes, the Rockies inspire incredible awe of God’s handiwork as they climb and disappear into the clouds.  But the Smokies… they fill your lungs with life as you breathe in the oxygen that is abundant through the trees, and they fill your senses with the sound of the river rushing down from above. 

I became the driver that you hate as I went 25 mph winding up to Cades Cove.  Why hurry through sun dappled lanes that follow the path of the river?  I would pull over occasionally to let folks behind me pass.  I was in no hurry!  One of my favorite times was pulling into a parking area that sat in a curve of the river.  The rain came while I was there, so I literally locked the front doors of my Escape, opened the tailgate, and laid on my stomach overlooking the river.  The rain poured down on my truck, on the river, on the ground around me, but I was dry.  I read while laying there (my pepper spray close at hand for all of you wondering) and basked in the knowledge that I could.

I wrote in my journal a bit, too, while there… working hard to slow down and listen.  It was so refreshing… life giving. 

The reason I mention the song “Mountain Top” is because as the week has gone on, and particularly today, I found myself remembering the promptings of the Lord from Sun/Mon.  Some of the conversations I had with the Lord incited excitement about walking forward.  Some I knew would be challenging to follow through on.  That’s where I have lived today.  Relinquishing expectations. 

This world offers so many good things that meet needs and longings in our lives.  I just don’t want to be satisfied with good things.  The King of the Universe offers me the best.  If only the best looked as enticing and was as easily accessible as the good.  I found myself today having the internal dialogue of “why is this choice the best?  why does setting my heart in this direction matter so much?  what do these decisions look like in the long run?” 

Thankfully, the ache and the momentary disappointment of the relinquished expectation has faded as the nite has gone on.  I know that it is not passed, just assuaged by the mercy of the Lord in the choosing.  But I have confidence that the mercy of the Lord will prevail again, and again. 

So, yes, I’d love to live on a mountain top and I’m already planning my next “run for the hills” moment.  But both ancient writers from the WORD, and more modern writers from books I’m currently reading promise me that the day to day is what truly transforms me into who God has called me to be.  And I will choose it.

Deb

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Maybe this time??

So, my original post on this blog is from April of 2007.  I’d say I’m a little slow at posting a follow up!  For the longest time, I’ve wondered why I struggle so to write a blog.  Several friends have encouraged me to… I love to write… I love to read… what’s the problem?! 

I’ve figured out it’s an expectation I have of what it should be.  You can see by my original post that I want to “muse” and “ponder”.  I think, too, that my dreams of being a wizened published author one day make my expectations just a touch high :).  I’ve decided to just jump in the “blogging water” and learn to swim by sinking a few times. 

So…

Just a few weeks ago, I downsized into a studio apartment.  At just one week shy of my 44th birthday(I wrote it in black and white!), I live in a converted garage, make more than I made 2 years ago but less than I made 3 years ago, and am considering going to grad school.  Some might call this a mid life crisis… a wild hare… enviable… wearying! 

I probably agree with all of these descriptions at any given moment.  But definitely, this is my continuing journey of faith.  Almost 4 years ago, I began sensing that it was time to pursue the next season.  I am at the same time the person who began that journey, and the person who has been transformed by that journey.  One thing I DO know is that there is no greater joy than putting off fears and living by faith.  And then putting off the NEXT fear and living by faith… and so on and so on. 

Call me slow, but one of the greatest lessons learned in the last 4 years is that once you take THE really big step of faith (to do whatever it might be), there is always one more REALLY big step of faith.  And then ONE MORE really big step of faith.  I’ve kinda gotten used to the idea that God longs for us to use the muscles that he is strengthening.  It is a choice every time to trust Him again… building on the awareness of His presence in the last step of faith.

Thus… moving into a studio apartment and parceling out my antiques 🙂 so that I can get out of debt, build a savings account, maybe go to grad school, maybe buy a home before I’m retirement age, and really enjoy the presence of the Lord.

More before 2 years is up…  Deb

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Announcing “Musings in Music City”

Welcome to a new venture in my life!  Many times over the last year of change and transition, friends have encouraged me to get a blog site and ponder online.  So… here goes! 

Those of you who know me better than some, know that I love words.  Not just the speaking of them, while that is true, but also the sound of them as they paint a picture of what you are trying to say.  I confess there there is a certain pleasure in my mind when I use a great word to express myself and it comes out right.  Do you know what I mean?

Therefore, I think I’d regularly like to define great words in my blog.  The first one, appropriately so, is musing  verb:  to comment thoughtfully or ruminate upon.  —Synonyms 1. cogitate, ruminate, think; dream, ponder, contemplate, deliberate.

While I won’t take the time to define ruminate… I know we are all envisioning a cow right now… I think you get the picture. 

My hope is that for myself, in the writing, and for you, in the reading, we will each have opportunity to think, dream, ponder, yea… even ruminate, on the faithfulness of the One who leads us on The Journey.

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