Day 16 – August 16, 2014

What is weighing on my heart this morning is the idea – the fact – that sometimes (Usually? Always?) we think we know what is best for our lives. Not only do we think we know what is best, we think we know how we’re going to get to what we think is best. But I’m learning more and more every day that if I am praying for God’s will for my life, and striving to follow that, it does no good whatsoever to try and figure out the plan. The more I think I have it figured out, the more clueless I discover myself to be. And that’s awesome! Yeah, it takes me out of my comfort zone in major ways. I mean, major. But God’s plan is always better than my plan. Every single time.

Three things that have already been written keep coming to mind today, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel with the Day 16 blog post. I’ll just quote the three things that seem to be speaking my heart today. The first is Isaiah 30:21:

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

The second is the song “Unpredictable” by Francesca Battistelli. I tell ya’…I’ve liked Francesca for a long time, but here lately she is nothing short of the soundtrack of my heart.

Can’t wrap my mind around You; can’t put You in a box; can’t keep You safely contained, no. You’re gonna move the way. You wanna move today. Just let me follow along. When I know that I know what You have down the road, when I’m sure that I’ve figured You out, help me see that I’m small, that I can’t know it all, ’cause You’re so unpredictable.

God is teaching me every day that things which I thought were the ultimate goal are actually just means to the end He has in mind. Just like Ethan telling me that he thought maybe God made me want to be a writer so that I would have the courage to quit my job, full of the belief that being a full-time author was the ultimate ending. Nah. That was just means to an end, wasn’t it? And the funny, awesome, amazing (and somewhat terrifying) thing is, I still don’t know what end God has in mind. But every day, whether I turn to the right or to the left, I’m hearing a voice saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

There once was a girl who was sickly and poor throughout her entire childhood. She had no one and nothing, except for the ability to sing beautiful songs which possessed healing powers, a gift from her mother. Her father, however, possessed only evil powers and he cursed her with the inability to ever sing these songs of healing and restoration in the presence of others. He wanted her melodies to be only for his benefit. When her parents died, she was left alone, with only a song. Night after night, day after day, she lay in her bed, shivering from the cold and nearly starving to death, singing with all her might. The song was her only friend and her only warmth. The song was the only thing in her life of value.

One day a local trader passed by and heard the song from afar. “Who is that, singing with the voice of an angel?” he asked. “Why, it’s no one, sir,” the townspeople said. “It is but only a sickly girl with a song in her heart.” “Lead me to her,” he pleaded, but the townspeople refused, insisting she would not survive the visit.

Another day, a jester from the court of the king passed by and heard the song from afar. “Who is that, singing with the voice of a majestic harp?” he asked. “Why, it’s no one, sir,” the townspeople said. “It is but only a sickly girl with a song in her heart.” “Lead me to her,” he begged, “and I will take her before the king.” But the townspeople refused, insisting she would not survive the journey to the palace.

Still another day, the prince himself passed by and heard the song from afar. “Who is that, singing with the voice of my own heart’s desire?” he asked. “Why, it’s no one, your majesty,” the townspeople said. “It is but only a sickly girl with a song in her heart.” “Lead me to her,” the prince commanded, “and I will take her as my wife.” The townspeople, of course, could not refuse the prince, but as they approached the girl’s hut, the singing stopped.

“She’s dead,” the townspeople cried, full of despair and disbelief that all of their efforts had been for nothing, and they would never again hear the songs which they’d always believed would heal her. That evening, as the townspeople mourned, they heard a melody from afar, and it was more beautiful than any they had ever heard. Even in their sadness, they could not deny its power and they ran to it. Much to their dismay, it came from the hut of the girl, but it didn’t stop when they entered. The voice – more beautiful than that of an angel, more majestic than a harp, more than even a prince could ever know to desire – belonged to a beautiful woman they didn’t recognize, and yet they felt they knew.

They had deprived her of adventure and fame and wealth, and even marrying a prince, but not to be cruel and not to keep her gift for themselves. They had known that the song was the means to an end, and they never gave up hope that it would one day heal her and allow her to be who she was meant to be – even if no prince ever took note. Neither the gift of her mother nor the curse of her father could compare to the power of a village who loved her and not just her song.


Day 6 – August 6, 2014

My phone delivered four life-altering (in ways small or large) nuggets of emotional momentousness today.

  1. I received another Middle Ground rejection today. (E-mail received on my phone.)
  2. I had a difficult time caring about that rejection too much, because of an amazing review which a fellow author wrote for I’ve Loved These Days. Of course I greatly appreciated the kind words she wrote, and I was unbelievably humbled by them, but more than anything, I could tell from her review that she got it. She heard what I was trying to say through the writing, and it was a powerful reassurance that I wasn’t writing into an abyss. (Facebook notification received on my phone.)
  3. I learned the word “taradiddle,” which is a small lie. I think “taradiddle” is a delightful word, and I intend to work it into conversations whenever possible henceforth. ( Word of the Day app on my phone.)
  4. I was reminded of these Bible verses, Colossians 3:1-2: Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (YouVersion Bible app Verse of the Day, received, of course, on my phone.)

It was amazing how each of these things played into the next. (Okay, that was a taradiddle. The Word of the Day was just a little bit of fun and had little impact on my day.) And by the time God threw an opportunity at me today, seemingly from out of the blue, my heart was ready for it.

Isn’t that fascinating? I think it’s fascinating how things which seem relatively small in the grand scheme of things can be preparing us in ways we can’t understand for things we would never expect.

I can’t say much more right now – partially because there are details to be revealed later and partially because bike-riding with my son awaits – but I will be telling you much more in the coming days. For now, suffice it to say it was a good day. It was a day in which I was blown away by God’s love and His magnificent, mysterious ways.

Day 2 – August 2, 2014

Do you ever hear God speaking to you? If so, how does He speak to you? There have been times in my life when I have severely needed my spiritual hearing checked. God could have spoken to me through a literal burning bush, and I probably would have rushed to get a bucket of water. But when I am listening to Him – and listening for Him – He speaks to me in remarkable ways. He usually speaks to me through what I am reading, or a sermon at church, or a song. But because He knows how oblivious I can be, He usually uses what I am reading AND a sermon at church AND a song. They will all hit – boom, boom, boom – and they will all be telling me the same thing. And then the Holy Spirit gives me an excitement and a peace regarding whatever call to action is clearly being put before me. Well, I think God just might be trying to tell me something this morning. See what you think…

I’m not making any of this up. I literally read these things this morning, as part of my time with God. And I didn’t intentionally read them. Well, I did… (“No! I won’t read! I WON’T! Oops. Didn’t mean to do that.”) But these just “happened” to be the chapters I got to today in two books I have been reading. I have been reading Praying God’s Will for Your Life by Stormie Omartian for, oh…I don’t know. Years, I guess. Because I always quit when it gets too tough. Too pointed. I always quit when I realize I’m not up for the challenge God is setting before me. I mean, I want God’s will for my life, but not at the expense of totally giving up my will for my life. Just being honest. Well, this time, I want it. I really want it. And yes, there are still things I want, but the difference now is I’m realizing I am never going to be able to get what I want if it isn’t what God wants, because really we want the same things. He just wants them better. (Did that make any sense? Probably not.)

So the chapter I read in Praying God’s Will for Your Life this morning was entitled “Praying to Say Yes to God Each Day of Your Life.” And from that chapter came this painful, hard-hitting, undeniably true little nugget:

The part we don’t want to hear is that a time comes when each of us must place our desires and dreams in the hands of God so that He might free us from those that are not His will. In other words, you secure your future by releasing your dream to God and, if need be, allowing it to die. If you’ve always had a certain picture of what you think you should do, you have to be willing to let the picture be destroyed. If it really is what God has for you, He will raise you up to do that and more. If it isn’t, you will be frustrated as long as you cling to it.

Ouch. But hey…that might not have really been intended for me. I’m also reading Bruce Wilkinson’s The Prayer of Jabez, a fascinating, polarizing little book which I am probably one of the last ten people on earth to read. I decided to read a chapter of that this morning, too. Because surely, in that book, God would tell me “Hey, you’re right on track. Don’t change a thing, kid! You’re gonna be a star. A star, I tell ya’!” (Why does God sound like a Hollywood talent agent in my mind? Does that give you some scary insight into my brain?) Well, hmm… Today I got to chapter three, “Living Large for God,” and in this chapter the author brought up the subject of Arithmetic. Well, first of all…WHAT?! (Side note: I have the Word of the Day widget on my phone, and today I learned something. Did you know there is “a printed punctuation mark, available only in some typefaces, designed to combine the question mark and the exclamation point, indicating a mixture of query and interjection, as after a rhetorical question,” called an interrobang? Fascinating.) Anyway…I hadn’t used or even thought of the word Arithmetic, well, maybe ever. And then the day after I decided to use it for The Year of Blogging Faithfully, it’s being discussed in The Prayer of Jabez, in the very chapter I just “happened” to be reading today?

Bruce Wilkinson wrote of expanding our territory for God’s work, and he said:

For most of us, our reluctance comes from getting our numbers right, but our arithmetic completely wrong. For example, when we’re deciding what size territory God has in mind for us, we keep an equation in our heart that adds up something like this:

My abilities + experience  + training + my personality and appearance + my past + the expectations of others = my assigned territory.

No matter how many sermons we’ve heard about God’s power to work through us, we simply gloss over the meaning of that one little word through. Sure, we say we want God to work through us, but what we really mean is by or in association with. Yet God’s reminder to us is the same one He gave the Jews when they returned from captivity to a decimated homeland: “Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).

Our God specializes in working through normal people who believe in a supernormal God who will do His work through them. What He’s waiting for in the invitation. That means God’s math would look more like this:

My willingness and weakness + God’s will and supernatural power = my expanding territory.

Double ouch. But that’s okay, because that could really all just be an amazing coincidence. If only I hadn’t had my headphones on while I read. If only I hadn’t been listening to a playlist with more than 70 songs on it, and if only the one which “happened” to play hadn’t been “I’m Letting Go” by Francesca Battistelli.


I’m letting go
Of the life I planned for me
And my dreams.
Losing control
Of my destiny.
Feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe.
So I’m letting go.

This is a giant leap of faith,
Trusting and trying to embrace
The fear of the unknown,
Beyond my comfort zone.

Okay, God. I’m putting down my bucket of water now. Can’t wait to see what You have for me in the sermon at church tomorrow…