Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Must Read- The Shack

Several weeks ago my dear friend Betsy told me that I should read "The Shack",by WM. Paul Young. I knew I was getting ready to be very busy with the move. However, I went ahead and purchased the book and began reading it. I am glad I did. It is Sunday afternoon and I am sitting in my quiet chair as I have just finished the book.

This story touched my heart, challenged my mind, and revealed more about God than I could have imagined. It is ironic that one little creative work like this could be packed with so much truth and power. It is truly a message from the Lover of our souls crying for us to seek Him and learn who HE really is.

The story is about loss, grief,unforgiveness,confusion,and hopelessness. It will stir your core and show you that we all have a shack or two within our own hearts. Where is that deserted, cold and empty place in you? How did it get there? And why does there never seem to be any answers as to the inward questions of "Why?"

Did you know that within the very shack erected within you is an opportunity for you to find life and truth? But you have to go there. Someone is calling and is inviting you back to the "shack" Going there is excruciating, but a great surprise awaits you if you will only make the journey and walk through the door.

Your perspective of God will change as you will experience sides of Him you never knew existed. Your religious views will be shattered and your mindsets pulverized. He is real, relatable,tender,and affectionate. He knows the things you love and what you enjoy. His passion for you is like the breath of a thrusting wind. He does not push Himself upon you but only invites you into His arms. At the shack, you will find that the very place of pain is a refuge of fulfillment and healing. You will find yourself being carried in His arms as He knows you like no other knows you. You have heard it before, but you will truly know it after your stay in the Shack.

Go with Mack to the Shack, a simple family man who has experienced torrents of pain in his life. You will never be the same again. You will be changed as you sit and commune with the Lover of your Soul. He is calling and He is waiting. Let us go.

Deeply hidden within
nestled behind
gnarly twigs
iced vines, broken shingles
exists a bottomless floor
where uninvited sorrow
come to dwell.

It lays there only to catch death
Hope ceases, joy releases
never to return
life void of being recaptured
all is doomed, and nothing
ever to bloom again.

In the mind's eye
this is all there is
but obvious reality is not
truth's stance.

In the heart
the lies come,
distress hovers,
constantly as robbers
of life's treasures.
Then a shack forms.
In me, in you.
Time strolls
And the shack rots
But never disintegrates

Deceit never wins
in the hand
Of the Lover.
He scrutinizes
knows and redeems
He waits at the shack
where the evil one ravaged innocence
And hedged hope until it smothered.

The tattered and torn shack
where all seemed to end
Was where the Lover waited
to bind the shack within

Cascading tears water
Holding a seed
Of eternal life
In its crystal wealth
The Lover knows
what you need.
In the plot where
You only saw death
Life will meet you there
At the truest of depth.

Come to the shack
The Lover will build it again
He will fill it with joy
Beauty and life from His hand
That which was lost
You will find never was gone
And a ravaged heart
Was never alone.

(I wrote this poem as the story inspired me. You may not understand it unless you have read the book. However I pray that you will read the book and then tell your family and friends about it.
I realized that we all have heart held shacks in difficult seasons of our lives. But the shack is not the end. We must expect the Lover to be who He says He is no matter how He chooses to reveal Himself to us. He is good. He is good. He is good. As we truly learn of Him and of His tender mercies and touchable love, we learn more and more that He is good and kind. No matter what the pain you have suffered whether through death, abuse, sickness, betrayal, God is a good Father and He wants to show you that He is just that....simply good.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More from the Valley of the Sun

Here are more photos. We took these this morning. When you wake up here it looks like this at 6:30 a.m. So of course everyone is getting up earlier. The pictures of the palm trees, the back yard and the dove were taken from the master bedroom picture window. This morning I was sitting in my "quiet time" chair by the window...praying for strength. The whole process has taken a toll on my body it seems. As I was praying and crying a little asking God to help me, this beautiful little dove (in photos above) landed on the wall. He just sat there very still for at least 10 minutes. I went and got all the children and showed them that it was God's message to us that He is with us and that He is helping us.

I was also reminded by the Lord this morning that we all tend to put too much pressure on ourselves...especially mothers. We need to learn to rest instead of being so restless thinking we should be doing more than we are doing.

After that moment we all went outside and just played in the sun. We spied a couple of butterflies and crickets. Then we googled to find out what crickets eat.They like to eat each other and they enjoy drinking beer and vinegar. We got a kick out of that.

Okay Moms ....stop pressing on yourself like I have been doing. The work is going no where...but the special moments with those precious little ones are as a vapor. Take every opportunity to embrace these rare moments with these priceless little gems.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Update from the Sunny Valley

Here are a few random photos from last weeks' move. The top picture is of John carrying the final box off of the truck. And he was still smiling! There are also a couple of photos of the house inside and out. The inside picture is of the dining area and kitchen. Our huge table is swallowed up in the spacious dining more carpet there! We can sweep up the crumbs! Hallelujah. We will post more pictures of the house later with furniture.

The other pictures are of the outside. The children are enjoying this the most. And you see the spa. It has been great putting the little ones in there before bedtime. They are nice, limp, and go right to sleep! Smile.

Below that you see the pictures of some of the terrain on the drive over. Windmills in Texas and mountains galore from West Texas all the way to Arizona! It was a beautiful journey. Praise the Lord that the Cogburn school bus made it with no problems at all. God was faithful and His wind surely carried us here. There will be more updates. Keep checking. We miss and love you all.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Cling Factor

I know some of you peek in here to see what is new. I have not updated in a while so just thought I would take a moment to share. This season has been one of high momentum. It is much like riding the Marta at the airport. You had better hang onto the rails or you are going to get jerked around a bit.

This is much like the season we are in. God is literally picking us up from this place and setting us down in a new place. Personally, I am so used to being in the waiting mode. Every thing before has been very slow. We have prayed and waited, cried and fretted, waited some more, rested, and cried again.

How overwhelming it is to watch God set you on the fast train and boy you better hang on or you are going to get spiritual whiplash. Just a little over a month ago we were in agony..wondering if God was ever going to "do something" We had run out of money,strength,and hope. However, the one thing we did not lack was the God given ability to look to our faithful Father. No matter where we were emotionally, we stayed in His face and remained in His embrace.God was working all along behind the scenes and now the deliverance has come.

I also have learned that God is not concerned so much with our performance in the test. Sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down. However, He is looking for one thing...."The Cling Factor" He hovers and waits and continually makes Himself available in order that we may grab hold to Him no matter the mood we find ourselves in.

In less that a month, we have found ourselves preparing to move across the country. God provided a promotion for John. He is working for Armorworks in the Phoenix area, managing 10 engineers. Imagine the challenge of building relationally with that group of people? Also he will be contributing to the protection of our country through development ideas for military wear, machinery, and vehicles.

I am so happy for him after he has worked in an environment where he was demeaned in many ways and even judged with sarcasm for being a father of 9. He endured it all quietly and patiently.

God truly is our Vindicator. We just have to wait and allow Him to be that for us when it is so tempting at times to build up our own walls of justice. When we take those matters into our own hands, we usually just end up building strongholds of bitterness for ourselves and we become bound in the snare of the evil one.

We also found a house very quickly. When John and I visited Phoenix a couple of weeks ago we must have looked at fifteen homes. The houses were lovely but there were no backyards. Just this week, John found a home with a huge, grassy back yard for the kids to run and play. The house is also one story which is something that I had prayed for.

The moving truck comes today. We will load over the weekend and hope to be out of here by Tuesday or Wednesday. The train ride continues.....and the story goes on.
God has truly taught us many things in our five years here in Atlanta. He has been preparing us, refining us and humbling us. I appreciate Him for that...and we know the process will continue...stayed tuned for more.