Numbness in my Soul

Numbness in my Soul

Have you ever been so exhausted, so overloaded, so overwhelmed (even with good things or a mixture of good and hard) that you are numb ... on the verge of tears one minute then totally blank the next? That's me right now.

Three weeks with "littles" (I love them to pieces, but the energy doesn't coincide), overlapped by my husband's medical procedure that cancelled out a looked-forward-to trip to visit siblings on my beloved Jersey shore, capped off with my own need for a CT scan of an unexpected abnormality found in a previous ultrasound -- all have contributed to my "blank" numbness.


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Remembering my Dad

Remembering my Dad

I'm so thankful for the man that GOD chose to be my earthly father. I wish I had had more time to get to know him as a person. He died young ... just 60! Eleven years on earth less than I have had to this point.

Here are my reflections of my dad from a post 2 years ago. I hit a grief that caught me by surprise:
An Unexpected Grief, first posted November 2016…

There I was, sitting at the stop light. All of a sudden, an overwhelming grief ... not primarily for my mom who died an exact year before, almost to the day. No, for my dad ... who had died in 1983 right before Thanksgiving.

But why am I grieving now ... why this year, when I hadn't thought of him at this time other years?

I tried to track my train of thought and realized that my thoughts had gone from grieving over my mistakes in my parenting to the difficulties in my own childhood home.

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Living as Abba's Child: Learning from Jesus

Living as Abba's Child: Learning from Jesus

The parent-child metaphor is perhaps the most tender picture of our relationship with God as believers.  This is so movingly expressed in the Scriptures by the Hebrew term for Father God "Abba," meaning "Daddy." As we approach Fathers' Day (though this is for moms & others also), let's take a break from the blog-type format.  Let's do a little digging into the Scriptures.  You may like this study for your own devotions or as a small group.

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Mentoring at its Best: Attachment that Detaches

Mentoring at its Best: Attachment that Detaches

I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day. Somehow we ended up talking about mentoring. We marveled at how so many Christians we know, who have matured in the Lord through the help of a mentor, end up being rejected by that same mentor for not agreeing with them on minor points of doctrine or practice, or for moving on in a different direction in ministry, or for some other difference of opinion. How sad. But how common!

Well, there is good news! There is a gem of a spiritual father tucked away in the gospels, one of my heroes of the faith, John the Baptist!  He shows us what a true mentor is like. John is not only a clear example of "letting go," but also a stellar model of attachment to his Lord Jesus Christ.

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A Spiritual Father: Abba's Child

A Spiritual Father: Abba's Child

We are not cowed into timidity by death and life. Were we forced to rely on our own shabby resources we would be pitiful people indeed. But the awareness of Christ's present risenness persuades us that we are buoyed up and carried on by a life greater than our own.

The Christ within who is our hope of glory is not a matter of theological debate or philosophical speculation. He is not a hobby, a part-time project, a good theme for a book, or a last resort when all human effort fails. He is our life, the most real fact about us. He is the power and wisdom of God dwelling within us.

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A Spiritual Father: a Modern-day Prophet

A Spiritual Father: a Modern-day Prophet

My husband John and I were students at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in the mid-1970's.  It was during our student days at Moody that we were introduced to A.W. Tozer.  My impression of Tozer at that time was that he was a somewhat controversial Chicago pastor of recent years who had a unique gift for being very sound biblically but at the same time shaking up the conservative evangelical "troops." I bought a set of his volumes entitled, The Tozer Pulpit and enjoyed his fiery words.  He said such things as...

One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. . . .

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A Spiritual Father: Abide in Christ in Faith-filled Surrender

A Spiritual Father:  Abide in Christ in Faith-filled Surrender

How do I abide in Christ? How do I live the Christian life if it's by faith and not about "doing?" What is faith? These were questions that circled around, on and on in the midst of my confusion...that is until I "met" Andrew Murray.  Actually, I had read him early in my Christian walk, but that was during the time that "faith formulas" and "to do lists" and "theological systems" were more the answers to my quests than was Christ Himself (although I didn't realize it at the time).


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A Spiritual Father: Bread for my Soul's Journey

A Spiritual Father: Bread for my Soul's Journey

One of my spiritual fathers was still alive on this earth when I first "met" him. Henri J. M. Nouwen (January 24, 1932 – September 21, 1996) was a Dutch Catholic priest and writer who authored 40 books on the spiritual life.

Our "meeting" came in two ways. A mentor friend of mine pointed me to Nouwen's classic work, The Return of the Prodigal Son. This is an amazing book based on meditations on Rembrandt's painting by the same name. (See my previous post for a favorite quote).

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Spiritual Fathers: Dead and Alive

Spiritual Fathers: Dead and Alive

I am writing to you, fathers,because you know him who is from the beginning. 1 John 2:13,14 ESV

Since the month of June is Fathers Day month,  I'm thinking about spiritual fathers.   I've been blessed to have some.  My life has been forever enriched by being "spiritually fathered" by these people of God.

So this month, I would like to share a few of them with you. But first, let's think together about "spiritual fathering."

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TBT: Choose your FACE...Change your DAY

Dear readers, this can change your life, not just your day.  And I find myself reminding myself of the truth of it all because this is just as true today as it was in the past. I find myself saying often the "mantra" I learned years ago from a favorite Bible teacher, Chuck Swindoll.

So for this "Throw Back Thursday" first posted in 2011:

Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart. Proverbs 27:19

I love 4 year olds...they understand so much!  A few years ago, I told my then 4 year old grandson Evan that we choose our attitude.  And he got it!

I didn’t always think that was true, but the older I get the more I believe our choosing has a lot to do with it. And if we are children of God, the living, indwelling Christ empowers us to have an appropriate attitude for the situation.

I experienced this simple truth with another 4 year old when I was teaching preschool many years ago.

It was getting toward the end of the school year...maybe April or early May.  I was reflecting on the precious group of "free spirits" entrusted to my care that year.  The Lord had done some amazing spiritual work in the lives of those five four-year-old's and in my own life as their teacher.

But I was somewhat distressed, feeling that I hadn't quite "reached" one little boy.  I felt that way because he usually looked stressed.  And he often had a negative expression on his face...what might be called a "NO" face.  Somewhat resigned to the fact that "you can't win them all," I just kept on doing what we were doing.

One day, the children were washing their hands two by two.  Little Johnny (not his real name) was not acting properly toward the child at the sink with him.  So of course, I reprimanded him.  He glared at me with his "NO " face, obviously not happy!

I said, "Johnny, don't give me that face!  Give me a gentle face!"  Immediately, Johnny changed his face...and peace came over him!  I was amazed!

Then just about an hour later, we were lining up by the door to go home.  At the end of each class day, I would stand at the door and face the children, waiting until they formed a line in front of me.  Then we would proceed down the hall and out to the waiting moms.  I looked at Johnny who, at that point, had the usual, somewhat negative, expression on his face.  When he made eye contact with me, he must have remembered our little interchange at the sink.  He immediately relaxed his expression and smiled.

Later I asked the Lord about it.  "Lord, what just happened?"  He led me to an incredible Scripture I had never noticed before:

A man's wisdom illumines his face and causes his stern face to change. Ecclesiastes 8:1b  NASB

Days later, Johnny's mom came up to me and said, "Jan, you changed Johnny's life!"  She had seen a new peace in her child.  And I praised God, knowing it wasn't me who made the change, but the Holy Spirit working in one little boy's life by enabling him to "change his face."

Not long ago, this very thread ran through discussion with a group of friends.  One woman said she wanted to be more gentle, so the Lord led her to start closing doors and cabinets quietly.  Another person wanted to not respond to mistakes in anger and frustration, so he began to speak out a gentle answer and found that it turned away his own wrath. (Proverbs 15:1)

After my husband's heart attack, John and I went to his cardiac rehab class called, "The Emotional Side of Heart Disease."

John at cadiac rehab
John at cadiac rehab

This was an excellent class about managing stress...especially the stresses associated with having just suffered a heart attack.  We both looked at each other when Patty, the rehab nurse, read an excerpt from an article called, "Laughter Really is the Best Medicine."

Move joyfully.  If you wake up in a bad mood, act like you're in a good mood, and your body can actually 'fake out' your own brain.  It's called 'fake it till you make it.'  When the copier breaks down in the office, instead of hitting it, try twirling while you tell people the copier isn't working.  Trust me, when you do this, it's impossible to feel stressed.  By substituting playful gestures for angry ones, your brain often short-circuits your own stress.

I'm not so sure I can see my engineer husband twirling at the copier, but this principle seems to be at the heart of the way the body and mind work together.

But the even better news for us believers is that we have the mind of Christ, and so we can choose to submit our body to Him and His indwelling life. We can "chose our face" and expect that His empowering, indwelling, resurrection Life will live through us...as us, all to the glory of His Name!

So dear brothers and sisters, "chose your face"...and change the way you live your human life in this world...to the glory of God...one day at a time!

...we have the mind of Christ. 1Cor 2:16b

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil 2:5-8

Shine, Jesus, Flow!

Shine, Jesus, Flow!

I've spent much of my adult life in the conservative evangelical Christian "camp," so to speak. I still place myself there doctrinally but I disavow myself from the tendencies that were prevalent over the years to look at other believers as "enemy brothers and sisters," in particular, charismatic Christians. Thankfully, that trend has been changing in recent years. We now often embrace each other freely and even espouse each other's differences as our own.

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TBT: Low Volume, High Volume, and Everything In-between

TBT:  Low Volume, High Volume, and Everything In-between

Some of us are low volume people. Others of us are high volume folk. And others are everything in-between.

...I think this realization affects how I view myself and others.

We all tend to be so insecure and self-conscious, constantly rejecting who and what God made us to be.  On the other side, we expect people to be more than they are and be able to do more than they can.  Or we think that those who are doing a lot are just showing off!

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Revisiting my "Words" ... wanting them to find me afresh!

Revisiting my "Words" ... wanting them to find me afresh!

I'm weary and blank. The death of a friend, new health issues arising, aging making itself felt, even good things piling up beyond energy levels, desires to do too much and then paying for it ... all of it. So I'm revisiting my "words" of recent years. And I'm especially parking on this year's word "REST." Journey along with me?


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TBT: Walking in the Dark...

TBT: Walking in the Dark...

Are you going through the dark valley today, my friend? Have there been oppositions, losses, stresses of many kinds looming all around you?

Darkness, darker than the dark?

I'm with you...especially this week...

But this morning, in the midst of it all, moved by an inner Mover, picking up a volume dating back many a year, there was balm for my exhausted, beat-up soul.

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TBT: The Emptying of Motherhood

TBT: The Emptying of Motherhood

Motherhood is filled with emptyings -- from the emptying of the womb in childbirth to the emptying of self in child-raising to the emptying of the nest, the ultimate goal. The stripping is hard, every step along the way.

And eventually, it may mean being alone on the day when moms have always been lauded and honored. This happened to me early on in the empty-nesting process. It could have shattered me were it not for my Abba Father's loving gifts to this hurting mama. 

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Grandchildren

Grandchildren

This moved me to tears this morning...especially as it gets toward the end. This is for grandpas who have a little bit harder time than grandmas with the chaos involved -- it's so worth it because of those precious babies, little now, but too soon to be big, people who are the future of the world …

In the meantime, they are the freshest and fairest you have. After you're gone, it is mainly because of them that the earth will not be as if you never walked on it.




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TBT: Holes in my Soul

TBT: Holes in my Soul

Do you ever feel like there are holes in your soul? I do. In fact, right now I feel a bit like a piece of Swiss cheese. And I don't mean "baby swiss." No, the real holes kind.

The interesting thing is that nothing bad is going on right now in my life. It's all good stuff! But the constancy of the schedule with a newborn (darling first granddaughter!), a two year old (energetic boy, I might add!), two older boys (awesome, each one!), plus sleep deprived young parents (getting ready for a military move next month, I might add), and two aged, also sleep-deprived, grandparents (John & me!) has been hard and delightful at the same time. But to be honest, we adults are all living "on the edge" of something (I just drew a blank as to what).

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Conferences, Conventions, or Christ?

Conferences, Conventions, or Christ?

The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. (Daniel 11:32 ESV)

The above verse became familiar to me when I began to lead Precept Upon Precept Bible Studies back in "the day." Kay Arthur would often punctuate her messages with this gem of truth. And yes, it made me want to know my God even more.

And over the course of my life I have benefitted by teachers and trainings, workshops and witness, conferences and conventions. But now I'm slowing down and realizing that it's really all about my Abba Father GOD. It's all about my Lord Jesus CHRIST. It's all about my indwelling HOLY SPIRIT ... my Triune GOD. And I want to know HIM purely and fully, more than ever ... as much as a human on this earth has spiritual capacity to do so. How about you, my friend?

If so, here is a short devotional by a formerly unknown, but now beloved, devotional writer of the past. This may be a good way to begin a new week or to walk a new path. It may also be helpful in decisions to soon be made about registering for upcoming conferences or studies. Is it God's appointed time to meet Him there or is it just frenetic busyness and not wanting to "miss out"?

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