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By michele

It’s Time to Get Up!

Reveille sounded at 6:00 am this morning, calling the troops to “rise and shine.” This has been a tradition I came to treasure early in life since living on many military installations. I remember being about seven years old and upon hearing it every morning, I would sit up and sing along, “It’s time to get up, it’s time to get up, it’s time to get up in the morning.”

Because the weather is beginning to warm up, our bedroom window was open. When the bugle sounded this morning, I sang those words in my head, but then heard another voice. In my spirit, I heard the Lord say, “It’s time to get up, it’s time to get up, it’s time to get up this morning. I have a word for you and I need for you to get up.”

I second-guessed the stirring in my heart and reluctantly decided I should rise and go down to my chair with my Bible and journal and spend some time with the Lord. I tiptoed out of bed and quietly closed the door so as not to wake my husband and dog. In the kitchen, I made my morning tea and then headed to my chair. So far, so good.

Suddenly, I heard my husband call from the second floor, “Hey Meg (what he calls me), what are you doing? Are you coming back up?” I tried to whisper to him, “I’m getting up. I felt like the Lord was telling me to get up, that he had something for me.” Hoping I’d satisfied him, I went back to the living room and he shut the bedroom door.

I settled in with my tea and Bible and began to pray and ask God to speak to me, that I was listening. I prayed against any distractions or noises as I felt this was a time to be silent and listen and I’m so easily distracted. The millisecond I said Amen, I heard the bedroom door open; the dog came running down the stairs, the cat began meowing incessantly and my husband then bounded down the stairs. (I think he was doing jumping jacks on each step.) He went into the kitchen where he proceeded to bang pots and clank dishes and noisily pour cat food into her dish.

I was so irritated. I muttered under my breath, “You have got to be kidding me, Lord. I thought you had something for me? Do you think I can concentrate and listen to You when the circus is performing in the next room?”

Thankfully, I heard Him reply. “I’ve ordained this time together. And I’ll redeem our time together. Your job was to show up and listen. Thank you for being obedient.”

I quietly sat for the next 30 minutes (blocking out the heavy sighing coming from the dog lying next to me, and my husband singing his favorite song over and over) and just listened. I reflected on God’s indescribable love for me, I recounted His faithfulness in the past, but mostly I just sat still and listened. This was a discipline I’d been used to practicing most mornings. However, with the extra traveling I’d been doing and the COVID-19 upheaval, I’d not taken time to sit in silence and solitude in several months, so it felt good to “just show up.”

As I concluded my time in silence, I was drawn to a book on my side table, Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton. I’d finished reading it several months earlier but was compelled to open it and reread the last chapter entitled, “For the Sake of Others.” And there was my treasure He had waiting for me.

Several paragraphs in that chapter spoke directly to a relational situation I’ve been struggling with. He gave me insight and the next steps I needed to take. I closed my time in a prayer of gratitude for the wake-up call and for God’s clear message, despite the interruptions. 

Spread Hope

We are in the height of the pandemic. And the virus continues to spread like wildfire.  

Loved ones are dying, small businesses are going bankrupt and domestic violence is increasing. Though we say we trust God in all circumstances, our minds are taken captive and fear continues to spread like wildfire.  

In the midst of the virus and fear running rampant down our streets and barging in our front doors, I see one more thing beginning to spread. Hope. When reading Scripture, I often exchange the word Hope for Jesus. I think more often than naught they can be interchangeable in most verses. 

Today is Passover in the Jewish faith. Remembering the story in Exodus where Moses is attempting to lead his people out of slavery, cruelty and fear spread like wildfire. The Israelites grumble and complain, Moses is afraid of his calling, and yet God reminds him that His name is “I AM.” Translated, “I have always been.”

No matter the circumstances, no matter the outcome, no matter the suffering and disillusionment, God exclaims that He Is. He Has Always Been. He Will Always Be. And the best part is found in Exodus 3:12 where God reminds us all, “I will be with you.” 

Hope.  

His presence commands the sick to be healed. 

His promises invite fear to cease.  

His people celebrate the Hope they’ve found in Jesus. 

More than focusing on the spread of the virus and the fear of the unknown, let’s focus on spreading Hope. 

As believers, we will celebrate the greatest miracle of Hope that’s ever been as we anticipate the upcoming weekend of Easter and Resurrection Sunday. 

What if everything we did in the next few days: our words, our actions, our thoughts, our reaching out, all pointed to the Hope we have in Jesus? 

What if we were passionate to the spreading of Hope and we refused to allow fear to be the common denominator in our neighborhoods and in our nation? What if we spread the good news stories coming from this pandemic and we squelched the negative news? (I’m not advocating being naïve and unaware; I am suggesting we be concerned and compassionate and acknowledge that fear is present, but we don’t allow it to rule our hearts, minds and actions.) 

People need to hear about the Hope we have. Job 11:18 reminds us,“You will have courage because you will have hope. You will be protected and will rest in safety.”  

I pray you’ll join me in offering those around us the greatest gift we can share. I’m encouraging us this week and in the weeks to come…to spread Hope.

He Has Great Plans!

Each morning I sit at my desk, open my calendar and cross out scheduled meetings and events for that day.

What a different world we’re living in right now. 
 

My days run together; I wear the standard uniform of sweats and a t-shirt and on good days, I brush my teeth by 2pm. A friend and I splurged and bought new makeup 3 weeks ago, and I haven’t worn any of it yet. As spontaneous and “by the seat of my pants” as I usually live and thrive by, the absence of a routine and a normal schedule is wearing me down.

I’m reminded of the verse in Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
 
All the cancellations, all the disappointments and frustrations haven’t taken God by surprise. He knew this is where I’d be today. In fact, I’m pretty sure me being here was part of His original plan.:)

With these thoughts in mind, I’m asking God to redirect my plans and purposes. Standing on the firm belief that God has ordained all my days, including the hours and minutes, and that He has purposed my days for His glory, I’m asking Him for a renewed sense of joy and wonder as I wake up each morning and anticipate the day ahead.
    

At the beginning of the year, when seeking a special word or phrase on which to meditate, “surprise” kept surprising me as it popped up in Scripture, book titles, conversations and more. I felt the Spirit telling me to stay alert and see how God is going to surprise me this year with what He has in store.
  
I’ve already seen ways God has surprised me as I’ve asked Him to work in certain situations this year. More than a few times I’ve exclaimed to myself or others, “Wow! That was such a surprising way God worked in that area.” Or, “Thank you, God, for surprising me with this bit of encouragement” or “that divine insight.”

As I set aside my plans for the next few months, I am listening and looking for what this day might hold. I’m asking God to help me not to miss what He has in store for me. Knowing God has great plans I may have missed had I been able to carry on “life as usual,” my desire is to be keenly aware of what God has for me in each day of staying home in isolation and social distancing. 

What Are You Waiting For?

I’m sitting by a window peering into the backyard, watching raindrops dance on the patio table.
I’m waiting. 

The tiny onesies have been washed and folded neatly and are waiting. The quiet bedroom filled with tiny human belongings, his name hanging above the crib and the chair that longs to rock him to sleep.
They’re waiting. 

My daughter balances her empty coffee cup on her round belly while she reads her Bible. She’s waiting. 

A large picture window expands the length of the living room and we watch the world carry on outside, while we continue to wait. 

Trusting in God’s timing. It sounds spiritual and wise. The truth is, it’s hard.  

Scripture reminds us again and again to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3.5. And Isaiah 26.3 “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Psalm 37.5 “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” 

The truth is, it’s really hard to wait. I’m learning it’s like most anything that is worthwhile in achieving; it takes practice. 

I know I’m not alone in the waiting.  

I have friends who are waiting for their next military assignment. It’s never easy to wait patiently to hear where you’ll spend the next several years or if the military will continue to be part of your journey at all. 

Some are waiting to hear where their child will go to university or IF their child will go to university. 

Waiting for a lost child to come home. 

One friend is waiting for a life-threatening surgery as a last resort for her husband. 

I was one who, until recently, was waiting for my husband to return from a long deployment in a war-torn location. 

What might you be waiting for? 

Perhaps an equally important question, which I’m learning to ask myself is, “What might you be learning in the waiting?” 

My prayer is evolving from asking God when He will answer and move into asking what He’s trying to teach me in the waiting.  

I don’t want to waste the moments of today simply waiting. I want God to use the moments and days to teach me. 

I’m learning just how faithful He is in the waiting. He reminds me of His love as I have time to sit and read and ponder His Word.  He reminds me of others I can pray for and come alongside as they wait.  

I see community rise up to embrace me in the waiting. A card or message from a friend that says I’m thinking of you and lifting you to the Father. A group of friends invite us for lunch, to sit around the table and commune together and enjoy the laughter of the little ones who jump on the couch and talk a mile a minute, who are eager to eat one more bite of chicken so they can have another helping of macaroni.  

I’m learning to be grateful for the expectant father who caters to my sweet daughter. Who brings her flowers on her due date. Who gently holds her and sits and watches girly shows when he’d rather be out in the garage.  Who dreams out loud of renovating his workshop so he and his son can work on projects together, building dirt bikes and memories, just like he did with his dad. 

I’m learning to enjoy and savor the extra time with my daughter. Having five children doesn’t always afford a mom a lot of time with each child. God is reminding me how special this time is with my dancing darling middle child, my own flesh who is waiting to birth our next generation. 

As we walk each day, God reminds me of His beauty in creation and His love to share it with me.  The tall evergreen trees towering over the landscape here in the Pacific Northwest. The calmness of Puget Sound holding its water within the boundaries of the banks. The snow-capped mountains standing so proudly in the background. So many reminders of gentle graces to capture in the waiting. I don’t want to miss the tiniest of them. 

I pray today will be the day baby Jonah makes his grand entrance. But if not, I’ll continue to be thankful for what God is teaching me. I’ll savor the moments and walk through the day wide-eyed, full of hope and grateful for what I am learning. I’ll continue to trust Him in His timing. And remember His goodness and faithfulness. 

What are you waiting for today? And what is God teaching you in the waiting? 

Advent

Advent, my favorite time of year.

I love to sit every morning in front of our tree, the ornaments reminding me of days gone by, many made by my grown children’s little hands of years ago. A cozy blanket wraps me in warmth and reminds me of His comforting love.

The quietness and stillness slows my morning and bids me time to ponder anew the mystery and majesty of this time of waiting. Of anticipation. Of Hope arriving as we usher in the celebration of the Word becoming flesh.

I sit with great expectancy of hearing the “Still Small Voice” whisper a new truth to my heart.

I meditate. I wait. I process. I worship.

The twinkling lights remind me of the Light that has come to pierce the darkness. Once again, I ponder those words. Pierce. To penetrate, to force or make a way into. According to another source, you can “pierce confusion by saying something that makes everything clear.”

Perhaps this is it. This is what the Light has come to do to the dark. It has come to pierce the confusion and to make everything clear.

The Word became flesh so He might live and dwell in us and among us; to rid us of the doubts and confusion, which is this dark world’s only meager offering to us.

I recently had a conversation with my now 30-year-old son and was reminding him of how much I love the season of Advent. He told me he used to think I was crazy when I would tell him that; “How could she love Advent more than Christmas Day?” As he’s gotten older, though, he says he gets it. He understands better the joy of the anticipation.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you.

For look, darkness covers the earth, and total darkness the peoples: but the Lord will shine over you, and His glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your radiance.

~Isaiah 60. 1-3