Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘discoveries’

provisioned


In the 1650′s,  John Bunyan wrote a book.  It was an allegorical novel, said to describe a dream.  He titled it “Pilgrim’s Progress.”  If you haven’t read it, it’s a great read – although the original version is a little harder to get through; old English and all.  When I was about ten or eleven, I had an easy-read version that I read over and over again until the cover wore thin.  I loved the symbolism, even as a child.  If you haven’t heard of him, John Bunyan was a Reformation preacher who lived in England.  During the difficult years of religious upheaval, when for a time it was illegal to even own a page from a Bible,  this part-time tinker (repairman/handyman) gathered many together with his teachings about the love of God.  He was a man who understood the compassionate side of Abba Father. His daughter, Mary, was blind.  I have wondered many times if he wrote his allegory for her.  In the years since it’s initial publication,  “Pilgrim’s Progress” has sold more copies than any other book ever printed, except for the Bible.  So, take my word for it; it’s a good read.

Which brings me to my story. This morning, the Holy Spirit reminded me of an  experience I had when I was child, reading this old classic story.  As I said, the book is an account of a dream. It describes the story of a man named Christian, who is making a journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City.  Along the way, he meets many who help him, and many more who hinder him.  He gains companions; he experiences pain; he loses loved ones; and he finally makes it to his destination.  All along the way, he learns and grows, becoming the person he was created to become.

In the middle of his journey, Christian has travelled a long way.  Everywhere he goes, he looks for indicators to show him the next step in his journey.  He has a map, but sometimes he can’t decipher it well. Continually, he needs others to help him figure it out.  But he keeps moving.  He comes to a steep hill, and looks upward.  Sadly, overwhelmingly, it appears that the road continues up this small mountain;  so he sighs and moves forward.  He is tired; he is forlorn; he is weary; he is hungry and thirsty; he doesn’t know if he can do it.  As he climbs, the mountain becomes steeper than he anticipated.  Finally, he has to clamber on his hands and knees just to make headway. It takes all the energies he has in his possession.  But now he is committed. He can’t go back. He can’t stop.  He must finish this part of the journey.

Soon, he comes to a clearing.  He is close to the peak of the mountain.  He sees a large house, nestled close to the summit.  He thinks “I could get some refreshment there, if they will take me in.”  So, he moves on towards the house.  But then, as he draws closer, his heart sinks.  The pathway to the house is guarded by two large lions, who, although shackled to rock posts with neck irons, look at him with menacing eyes.  Fear rises in his heart.  He stops in his tracks. 

Now what?

Suddenly, a voice speaks from the front door of the house. The Caretaker shouts to him, “Don’t be afraid!  They are chained to the posts!  Keep to the middle of the path and they won’t be able to reach you!”

With a flash of hope, Christian slowly and carefully moves past the lions, who growl as he passes.  He arrives at the front door untouched. He is safe.  He breathes a sigh of relief. 

“Welcome!” says the Caretaker. “We have been waiting for you.” 

Surprised, Christian discovers a Place of Refreshment.  He is bathed, and receives medical treatment for his injuries.  He is given clean clothing.  He eats at a banquet table.  He laughs and relaxes in an atmosphere of safety.  For several days, he stays.  He finds his heart again.  He gains direction.  He asks questions.  He listens.  He learns.

Then, on the third morning, the King’s daughters; Faith, Hope and Charity, help him get ready to complete his journey.  They clothe him in armor, hand-fit to his person.  He is given a sword and a shield.  He is provisioned, and given a scroll of promises.  For you see, the House on the mountaintop was the King’s House.  It was a place of refuge.

In the next chapter of the book, Christian faces the dragon Appollyon, his nemesis; the image of Satan in his own weaknesses.  Because of his provisioning, he prevails victorious. He emerges from the battle battered, but wiser; stronger somehow.  He would have died in the battle had he not been to the King’s House.

It’s my favorite place in the book.  The House of Refreshing.

This morning, the Holy Spirit reminded me of an experience I had during one of my many readings of “Pilgrim’s Progress.”  I was ten years old. I had just finished the King’s House chapter, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of the Presence of God. “When I grow up, Jesus, I want my house to be like that.  I want people to go away from my house stronger than they came in.  I want to help people.”

That hope has remained a center in me for the past forty-three years.  When I met Bill, in our many conversations, building relationship, his heart resonated with that focus as well.  (It’s wonderful when you marry someone who carries some of your same pages in their own instruction manual for living.)  As as result, that same hope has filtered into the way we approach pastoring and leading people.  “Let them leave stronger than they came in.” 

It has become a personal mission statement for my counseling ministry as well.

All that being said, dear reader, I bring you a request for prayer.  My Doll-House Toehead (see blog by the same title), and her mother (see blog titled “Peaches”), move away this weekend.  They are on to the next step of rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of abuse, court systems and custody battles.  I miss them already…

I sent my toehead away with a jar of Play-Doh… one we played with together…. small offerings.  Someday, at journey’s end, we won’t have to go in different directions.

Pray for these two precious souls.  Pray for their armor to remain strong; that they lose nothing — and gain everything.

The world is a learning environment.  Some life-lessons come harder than others. 

We all need safe places of refreshing. 

Someday, I want to build a House of Safety for women in such stages of life….. God knows.  Pray for our ministry as well.

Blessings.

(c)2010 atg/dcg.  No duplication without permission.

Read Full Post »


Personality is a wonderful thing! It provides us with variety, and keeps the spark in our relationships.  How boring life would be if every tree in the orchard were an apple tree!  How tedious our days would be, if everyone were the same.  Our lives would be like those “built overnight” neighborhoods, where all the houses look the same; like they were designed with a cookie-cutter!  It is the differences that keep us discovering — and I for one, need the differening personalities to keep me on a growth pattern!  

Now, if you aren’t familiar with personality profiles, let me help here by explaining a little.  I have to set the story up for you — because this week, I made a discovery of my own.   

Personality profiling is used all over the workplace these days, to help corporations learn about team dynamics.  Profiling tools are used to help workers discover what needs adjustment in their working relationships. Some Human Resource departments use profiling tools, to learn whether an applicant desiring a job would really be a “fit” for that particular job. Police departments create profiles in order to catch criminals…. it’s fascinating stuff. And uncannyingly accurate!

Simply put: there are four basic personality types.  Everyone on the planet carries all four, in varying degrees. And, while some people are similar, each combination is unique; mixing with our individual learning styles, our level of emotional development, etc., to define our personality; our Personhood.  Additionally, most of us utilize different forms of ourselves depending upon the pressures of the environment we find ourselves in…. Short version; one of the main keys to healthy living is choosing to do whatever it takes to heal and grow– The end goal is to become consistently stable, in holding to the same personality in every environment. This is called “congruency”…  although no one comes to it quickly … or perfectly.  

Understand here,  I am talking about Emotional Quotient (which involves inner life; feelings, principles, values and morals) — as opposed to Intelligence Quotient (which involves outer life; facts, cliches, status and task).  Relationships are part of the EQ of life — When relationships are run in IQ, they fail every time…. 

But EQ is hard to grasp; it’s like learning a new language, especially if inner life wasn’t addressed in bonding years. EQ is intangible and relationship based — most of us need help to “get it.”  On the other hand, IQ is easier to get hold of, because it is task oriented and has to to with the tangibles — “just the facts, please.”  As a result, the majority of us live our lives in the IQ levels, avoiding the pain of digging into the EQ, for as long as we can possibly get away with it….

Personality types vary in degrees.  To put it simply — here are the four styles – 1. The Driver; the lion, or choleric…    2. The Inspirer; the otter, or sanguine…. 3. The Steady; the golden retriever, or phlegmatic…..  4. The Conscientous; the beaver, or melancholic….. 

After years of behavioral analysis, mediating conflicts, helping couples decipher “missed moments,” I made a discovery of my own this week.  You know, the “aha” moment, the “synapses” – when the left and right brain connect, and you wonder why you didn’t “see it’ before….

My husband is a “lion” — by that I mean his personality type. He is one of those energetic, determined leader-guys, who enjoys being out in front forging a path. He could cut a path through the jungle with a machete, and not mind the challenges of being the first to get there. His secondary personality type is the “otter.” You know the type; always telling jokes; drawing people in with his stories. When it comes to his learning style, he has this mind that never forgets a name. It has to be a gift. I say that because I have a hard time with names. I remember faces, and then my mind runs through the alphabet — “Was it an A name? B?” 

At one point, I thought I could improve my mind-remembering skill-level; I didn’t realize the problem was part of my genetics. Because my relationships with people are important to me, I tried a course in memory-association. This particular course was excellent — the problem was the student…. Here was the proposed process: Think of a picture that reminds you of the item (or person) you want to remember.  Give the picture a name that relates to their name, or a feature of their person.  Well, the course promises that the next time you see the person, you will remember the association, etc. Hence, success.

I must have been missing that day — that part of my IQ level wasn’t developed yet…..  A lady came to visit us.  In the midst of a sea of faces, I learned her name; “Mrs. Stack.”  She was a a rather large woman, with short, blonde, straight hair.  So, in my mind, for some reason, I pictured a haystack. Go figure. Did it work, you ask?  Well, the next time I saw her, the part of recalling the image worked. The yellow haystack showed up in my mind; but so did self-doubt.  I called her “Mrs. Needle.” 

You’re smiling. I can’t help it. My mind just goes blank.

My husband is a lion. Like Aslan, in the Chronicles of Narnia, he isn’t a tame lion, but he’s kind…. 

Me? I’m a “golden retriever,” with a little “beaver” thrown in for good measure. I’m the team player who doesn’t like to be alone; who dislikes sudden changes; is mercy-motivated and is happy to help administrate the details. My kids give me a hard time when I’m writing on the laptop too long.   “Come out and play,” they say. Between the two of us, Bill and I have a combination of all four styles in our marriage – which, theoretically, works really great when all inner conflicts have been resolved.  It gives us a complete offering of all the styles… Great for child-rearing, and problem solving.

The “aha,” you ask?  It was this week. I had a picture go through my head… had to be God-breathed.  It made me laugh, actually. Picture this: A golden retriever with a lion’s mane tied around its head. Silly? Perhaps. Think about this… Golden retrievers and lions are the same color, but they are not the same.  They will never be the same. Lions roar and establish territory. Retrievers bark and couldn’t care less about territory. Lions can walk ahead, and work alone. Retrievers need a pack, or companionship. 

I realized this week that for one reason or another, I had placed undue expectations on my God-given personality.  As a result, I had been struggling with guilt when I found myself unable to follow through with those unspoken expectations.  No one put it on me — I just absorbed it over time. When or how I picked it up, I’ll never know.  I think it must have happened gradually — an incremental “weighing down” if you will. Somehow, I thought I had to be more “lion-ly” in my day-to-day life….  I felt guilty for my emotional genetics, something God never intended. Finally, when it surfaced, my hubby and I worked through it.  “I’m so tired,” I told him. “Something has to give.”  Then, came the vulnerable question. “What do you think?”

“I didn’t know you were carrying all that. I don’t want that for you,”  he said. “Let’s fix it.”  Did I tell you he was a kind lion — and my best friend?

Sometimes, without realizing it, we try to change ourselves, denying who we were created to become. Sometimes, we decide to dislike the personality God gave us because we want to gain greater acceptance (we think) or wider approval (we hope).  Sometimes, we allow circumstances and relationships to weigh us down, changing us for survival.  Sometimes, we just slam the door and refuse to think about it.

But it’s part of our purpose on the planet — this discovering of design and purpose. God’s intention is to strengthen our inner selves, so that we live our lives in truth, adhering to His created purpose.  How long has it been since you asked Him who He wants you to be?

He’s got a plan, you know. And it’s a good one — with a future and a hope.  But it might involve a little change….

(C) 2010 DG — Awakened to Grow.  Duplication without permission prohibited.

  

 

 

Read Full Post »


Today turned into an encounter with a sinus nasty — Apparently, some kind and sharing soul left the remnants of their symptoms where I could find them.  I must have unwittingly discovered the germs; and, not being good at playing “hot potato,”  held onto the little viruses too long.  So they made contact.  The ugly things intend to “live long and prosper!”  Little aliens…..   (Can’t we just send them back to the mother-ship?)

What was it the doctor used to tell us when the girls were small?  “Wash your hands continually, and don’t touch your eyes, nose, mouth or ears.”  Sorry, Larry, I forgot, I guess. 

There is one good thing about not feeling well. Everything else has to stand in line for attention while you recover.  And, it gives you a little bit of time to rest; doing activities that  can be accomplished in a semi-sleep state…. when you’re not sleeping, that is…

So today, between naps, I was preparing a CD – lazing on the couch, with my laptop, my pillow, my blankie and my sympathetic 8-pound Maltese.  Oh, and lots of water; don’t forget the water. And the tea.  Thanks, Mom.

I’ve written a novel.  Did I tell you that already?  My brain is snowed in with Mr. Sinus…. I can’t remember.

It’s been a rather large project. One I didn’t realize I was undertaking…. At first, I was going to write a series of short stories, and give them to women who come to the Awakened to Grow retreats….  Then, I thought it might become a devotional; to which we would add the scripture reading and journaling assignments at a later date.  But now, as I sign a publishing contract, and send a CD of files off, I am realizing that Abba Father has been leading me into a discovery for a long time. 

I love to write…. really.   I love to research, and find connections.  It’s fun to watch a patchwork quilt come together; piecing the accounts into a narrative.  To discover the people…Before this project, I wrote songs — and I still love doing that – but this has touched something deeper in me…. this has been fun!   

It began as a personal Bible study.  I wanted to know more about the woman who broke the jar in the house of Simon the Pharisee. I wanted to investigate the depth of her passion in worship.  Her courage.  Jesus’ response. Not long after the Bible study began, it became a message.  Then, when I went to prepare the message for our congregation, it became a two-week teaching. Now, after eight years of research and a trip to Israel, it is a 460-page book. 

Friends who have read it in its self-published format, tell me they have experienced personal change and growth through reading. Many of them have been kind enough to write reviews for my publisher.  How did we get here, exactly?  I don’t remember ever planning to write a book.  It just sort of happened.  I think it came down to just taking the “next logical step” as the Holy Spirit made the direction clear. 

So, why am I writing today?  Just to bring you into the circle; to let you know its coming.  I’m excited.  The name of the book is Journey: A Novel. It is being published by Advantage Books (advbooks.com).  Some of you have helped me to get to this point, and I am so grateful.  Thank you.  Thank you.. Thank you….  (If you have questions about the process, you can email me at awakenedtogrow@yahoo.com).

Periodically, from this point forward, I will post excerpts from “Journey,” so you can see the kind of book it is…..  If, as you read, you have comments, I would love to have your input…

I finished the research for my second book last month; Journey Continued.  The prologue is written now; and I am beginning the process of constructing a novel about the early church — Amazing…. What I have discovered in the process is the revelation of an ancient world paralleling our own so closely, that I find myself  anticipating the end-time outpouring of the Spirit with even greater excitement. 

 Thank you for taking time to read this blog.  Thanks for your encouragement and your support.  I’m looking forward to hearing from you.  Blessings.

(C)2010 DG — awakenedtogrow.com

Read Full Post »


So, I’ve been told it’s time to begin a blog — never heard of the word until my children described it to me — and even then, it has taken much too long to begin the process. As it has been explained to me — this is an environment where we journal — the old word that I’m familiar with — but blogging seems to be the public method; on display; open for comment — perhaps guidance? (I need as much of the latter as I can get my mind around these days….)  It seems the older you become, the less you really know…. how does that work again?

Like this morning.  I’ve made a pot of coffee must be a million times. I’ve even been told I make good coffee — but we added a twist to the mix….. we have a new coffeepot.  In the words of my oldest child, (and former Starbucks Barista), “How can you screw up coffee?” Well, let me tell you — it’s simple.  You do what you’ve done a million times before, and don’t think about it — until the pot is spouting steam, water is dancing on the burner in tiny droplets, and brown flecks of portfolio-priced beans are leaking all over your kitchen counter.  When such an occurrance happens it is then, and only then, one notices that this particular appliance requires the basket be put in a certain way — it seems there is a little notch on the basket that must be “just so” — It was then I realized how stuck into old habits and views I had become in my relationship to my old coffee pot — Did anyone else buy this model?

Which brings me to my first blog subject. 

I ministered at a dear friend’s church yesterday; much larger than my husband’s and mine.  We met at 6:00am for prayer and worship — I got to lead the worship segment — it was wonderful. It was more wonderful because the morning began with failure. Early planner/detailer that I am, I had set my alarm for 4:30, giving myself time to get ready and drive the 25-40 minutes to her door from my home.  Anticipating the early morning, I found I couldn’t sleep the night before.  Well, as you might guess, my alarm didn’t go off — don’t even know why — perhaps its getting older like me. I awoke with a start at 5:20am — soundcheck was supposed to happen at 5:30am — not happening today folks….

She called me at 5:32 — “Are you okay?” (Yes, I said, as I was rushing around — pulling on my dress pants — I’ll be there…this really is important to me…. ) She couldn’t have been kinder.

Long story short, they prayed without me til 6:15, when I walked in the door. No one panicked, or was in a hurry. In fact, I was hugged and greeted.  When I walked into the sanctuary, my friend hugged me, and said “Relax — just go up there and let God use you.”  (Did I tell you she was a dear friend?)   Her assistant took the time to pour bottled water into a goblet… they acted as if it was part of the program for the worship leader to arrive after the meeting had begun… I went right to the piano, and then looked out. (They had more intercessors gathered than Bill and I have in our congregation — at 6:00AM!– and all of those wonderful people had probably been early to the meeting!)

The Lord met us — Our time extended, and I stayed at the piano. Afterwards, my friend and I went out for breakfast — and then, at her invitation, we came back and spent some time in her office together, – meeting a publications representative, and talking about the differences in our ministries.  We live in two completely different worlds — my friend and I — serving the same Lord, and the same family.  Her church runs several thousand. Ours runs 100 or so (I say the “or so” because we are growing, ever so slowly). Her church ministers to the urban community and has two campuses.  Ours ministers to the suburban culture and has two buildings.

As I looked around her office, I gained an insight and an education about her world.  I am gaining new understanding on my eternal family.  Her African-American culture has a beautiful and painful history.  The images on her walls hold more color than those on my walls.  There is a different understanding about the world’s ways that is part of her environment….. Things I thought I knew….  I have so far to go — How badly I want to be effective in all of the cultures around me…

It’s kind of like working with a new coffeepot.

(C)2010 DG — awakenedtogrow.com

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.