Sunday, November 25, 2012

Treasure and Ponder

(This post was specifically written for the women who attended the Heart Retreat at Windermere, but even if you didn’t, you are not excluded! Feel free to read and apply this to your own experiences.)
Since my last post about gleaning, you’ve been frozen in my mind like a graceful statue, a bundle of grain in your arms, a wistful smile on your face, and the corner of your dress lifting gently in the breeze. This makes me laugh, because if you are anything like me, you dropped your grain days ago to make room for turkey and pumpkin pie. But that’s okay. The whole point of this little follow-up study is to remember and apply the good things the Lord did in us at the Heart Retreat. We can continue to do that with just a bit of time and effort, even in the midst of recovering from Thanksgiving and preparing for Christmas. Let’s take a look at Mary, the mother of Jesus, as our next inspirational woman.
When they (the shepherds) had seen him (Jesus), they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:17-19)
I like the way the New Living Translation describes Mary’s treasuring and pondering: “…but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often.” Ruth showed us the importance of gleaning the good things the Lord has for us, and I think Mary’s example can teach us how to turn our gleanings into food for our hearts. But how do we treasure and ponder? What does it mean?
treasure:  1: to collect and store up (something of value) for future use: hoard
                 2: to hold or keep as precious: cherish, prize (
ponder:  to weigh carefully in the mind; consider thoughtfully (
The Lord has done many wonderful things in my life, but I have never accidentally kept them in my heart and thought about them often. If I am going to hold on to these precious things and consider them in a thoughtful way, I have to be intentional. Treasuring and pondering is certainly not a strength of mine, but when I do it, I feel like my heart has had a Thanksgiving feast. I really like the first definition of treasure: to store up something of value for future use. I like to think of it as putting my grain into the storehouse of my heart for the lean times that may be ahead of me. Pulling it out and feasting on what the Lord has done in the past will help to see me through those dry seasons. 
So, what did the Lord give to you at the Heart Retreat? Did you make your list of gleanings? If so, let's start storing the grain in our hearts.  
1. Read through your list. If you don't have one, you can still make one! Read this post, called "Glean" for ideas.
2. Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to treasure and ponder the things on your list. (Disregard the rest of this list if you feel He is leading you in a different direction. He is the best teacher!)
3. Consider this verse: "Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them." (Psalm 111:2) Take some time to tell the Lord that the things He gave you at the retreat are great and that you delight in the works He has done for you.
4. Ponder! This comes naturally to some, and for others may be like pulling teeth. I think I fall somewhere in between. Choose one thing from your list to ponder for now. For example, one of the things on my list is that the Lord reminded me at the retreat to let go of the things I can't control. To ponder this particular thing, I chose to dig a little deeper by studying. I looked up the word "control" in my concordance, and I'm so glad I did! For one thing, I found a prayer of Jeremiah's that really spoke to my heart. And I was also reminded of the different kinds of control: self-control, God's control, and also Satan's control. (If you don't have a concordance, you can use one online! Bible Gateway is one that you can use to search in different versions of the Bible.)  
5. Write it down. I wrote what I learned about control in my notebook. I also wrote down my own prayer about it, too. I think this helps get it in my heart a little better.
6. Relax. One of my favorite things to do is to take a nugget from my day and ponder it as I'm falling asleep at night. You might like to try this with one of the things on your list. Put it in the front of your mind as you close your eyes to sleep. Ask the Lord to speak to your heart about it during the night. If it is a verse, dwell on it, saying the words to yourself as you drift away. Don't be surprised if you wake up in the morning, or even the middle of the night with fresh insight on that particular subject. My spiritual ears just seem to be more alert when the rest of me is sleeping.  " I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me." (Psalm 16:7)
7. Repeat for the other items on your list.
I would love to hear of other ways you treasure and ponder, if you'd like to share. I hope you will stick with me for our third inspirational woman, coming soon(ish)!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


(This post was specifically written for the women who attended the Heart Retreat at Windermere, but even if you didn’t, you are not excluded! Feel free to read and apply this to your own experiences.)

I love getting away. And I love coming home. But I do not love unpacking or the feeling of being thrown back into the mess of everyday life where any joy or refreshment I received in my time away gets instantly lost under the pile. I know I don’t even have to explain the pile to you. The pile is one of our common bonds as women, right?

I’ve been talking to the Lord about this Heart Retreat we just came home from, not wanting any one of us to lose any good thing under our piles. And you know what? God cares about this, too. After all the inspiring women we were around this weekend, I feel His urging to take a look at three other inspiring women from Scripture and gain some wisdom from them. I thought you might like to come with me and look at one of them now:

As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, "Even if she gathers among the sheaves, don't embarrass her. Rather, pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don't rebuke her." So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. (Ruth 2:15-17)

Ruth gleaned in the barley field because she and her mother-in-law were hungry. She had favor with Boaz, the owner of the field, so that she could follow behind the harvesters and gather stalks of barley that had been dropped. Not only that, Boaz went so far as to ask his men to purposely leave behind some extra stalks for Ruth to gather.

I don’t know about you, but I am hungry for spiritual food, and I believe as a Christian woman, I have favor with my Father. He has stalks of barley for me, but He doesn’t drop them straight into my mouth. It takes some effort on my part. Gleaning is work, but it is worth the bending over.

The Heart Retreat was so packed full of fun, fellowship, tears, laughter, food, activities, music, gifts, testimonies, and teachings! You might have felt energized, overwhelmed, or a little of both. You are not the only one. What can we do to sort through the range of emotions we experienced?  I believe taking the time to glean the stalks that our Heavenly Father left for us is one way. The fun part is that each of us has something different to glean, because our God is a personal God who treats us as unique individuals.

So, how do we glean? I don’t think it needs to be complicated. Here are some simple steps we can take to join our sister Ruth in the field:

1.       Pray. Ask God to show you what specific spiritual food He has for you to glean from your time at the retreat.

2.       Listen. Be quiet for a little while and wait.

3.       When He shows you something, pick it up. Now, don’t start bending over grabbing at imaginary items, or you’re going to get some raised eyebrows. It’s probably better to just make a list. Write down your gleanings.

4.       Now look at your strong arms full of barley. You may have a new friendship lying there, or you might have a Scripture that the Lord used to speak just to you. You may have a new heart(!) or maybe a hope after a time of hopelessness.  Maybe it’s a deeper understanding of God’s love for you, or the healing of a hurt. Perhaps you have fresh vision into a certain situation or a confirming word concerning a God call on your life.  You might have new strength lying there to overcome temptation.  Whatever your gleanings may be, let’s thank the Lord for our harvest! Ruth and Naomi were so grateful for their barley, and we should be, too. Take a few minutes to thank Him for each item on your list.

5.       Share! Ruth shared her gleanings with Naomi. I believe sharing spiritual food with others feeds not only the recipient, but nourishes us as well. There are many ways to share. After you work through this exercise, feel free to come back and share right here in the comments section or on the Inspire Facebook page. Or share with your spouse, friend, co-worker—whoever the Lord puts on your heart. If your gleanings are just too personal, God still did something good for you, and just telling that to someone is enough. We are overcomers by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony! (Revelation 12:11)

And now, a short word about chaff:  Chaff is the debris of harvest. It’s the part we don’t want to eat. Did you just catch some chaff in your stalks like I did? When a group of women get together, you know there is going to be some chaff floating around. That is the work of our enemy, trying to destroy God’s work in us. I’m talking about the chaff of comparisons, inadequacy, self-depreciation, jealousy, pride, unforgiveness, and this list could go on and on. I know I picked up some chaff that God wants to help me throw in the fire. If you picked up some too, pray with me for His help to blow it off and let it burn.

Thanks for gleaning with me! If you like, save your lists and bring them along next week as we take a look at another inspiring woman of Scripture!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hi. My Name is Rachelle, and I am Inadequate.

I had agreed to babysit for a friend again. So today I had two preschoolers and a ten-month-old, in addition to my own three. In the afternoon, chaos erupted between the two preschoolers, and I swept them into the backyard to diffuse the situation. As I knelt down, talking calmly to them at their level, I suddenly realized I had left the ten-month-old unattended. So, like the wise mother that I am, I abandoned the little tots in the backyard and ran screaming into the house for the baby. Panicked, I followed his trail out the front door, where I found him operating the leaf blower in the front yard next to the street. Relieved that he was alright, I scooped him up in my arms and held him close. It was then that I noticed the neighbors had gathered around and were casting looks of cold disapproval in my direction. I was an unfit mother. I could see it in their eyes.
And then I woke up. It was only a dream. But the reality of my inadequacy was hovering over me and my pillow like a grey cloud.
The day before had been Orphan Sunday, and despite my fear of public speaking, I could not ignore the intense urging I felt that our church needed to acknowledge this day. So with dry mouth and sweaty palms, I stood before the congregation and shared God's heart and mine for orphans and foster children. I also chose this time to share with our church the decision Bob and I have made to be foster parents with the hope of adopting. At this point, the congregation applauded, which startled me. I had practiced my speech in the shower and in my van, forgetting that I would actually be talking to people who might respond.
Something about the applause bothered me; it made me feel guilty in some twisted way. Perhaps if someone in the crowd had shouted the things I have said to myself, I would have felt better. "Hey! Aren't you the lady who lets your kids run around like maniacs in the parking lot after church?" or, "You can't even control the ones you have! What makes you think you can take on any more?" Great question, blunt, imaginary congregation person! And the answer is, I don't know! We must be crazy.
Try as I might, I could not go back to sleep after my disturbing dream. I lay awake in the five o'clock quiet and wondered how I was going to have enough time, love, patience, wisdom, and strength for a child I don't even know. I thought of the hours of training we have received, the mounds of paperwork we have completed, and the thorough going-over of our house by outsiders. We have been finger-printed, background checked, and questioned about our personal lives. But the truth is, we fall short.
In my heart, in the dark, I began the conversation. "Lord! I fall short as a wife and mother. I fall short as a teacher and housekeeper. I fall short as a friend and as a Christian. I fall short as a person. I am woefully inadequate."
Like a best friend who lovingly tells me the truth, and not just what I want to hear, I felt Him answer me: "I know, and that is exactly where I want you to be. I use people who know they are inadequate, because they are the ones who know how much they need Me. Don't let your inadequacy discourage you--let it drive you to complete dependency on Me. Cling to Me. Let My strength be made perfect in your weakness."
I thought of Peter, the Lord's disciple who is well-known for his epic failure--denying even knowing his beloved Christ. Poor Peter. His weakness is remembered every Easter and any time we need a good example of someone who fell short miserably. But the conversation Peter and Jesus have after the resurrection is revealing and redeeming. Jesus simply wants to know where Peter's heart is. "Do you love me?" At Peter's affirmative response, Jesus replies, "Feed my sheep."

Jesus doesn't want or need to spend time hashing and rehashing my past mistakes and the many ways I fall short daily. He knows getting to the heart of the matter--loving God and loving others--is the sun around which everything else either revolves or flies out of orbit into the void.

So what now? Shall I embrace my inadequacy? I think I won't. I think I will embrace the Saviour who loves me in spite of it, and who requires loving Him and His sheep as the basis for everything else I do. I will embrace the One whose glory shines through all my weak spots, cracks, and holes. I will not despair. I will depend on the One who gives me everything I need to do what He asks of me.

( And...I will remember to read this if any child in my care ever ends up by the street with the leaf blower.)

avandia recall