"Show me Your strong love in wonderful ways, O Savior of all those seeking Your help against their foes. Protect me as You would the pupil of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings as You hover over me." Psalm 17:7-8

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Freed to Be Used

Acorn lesson number two came as a surprise.  Weeks before I had read about the acorn serving as a food source for both man and animal.  In fact, acorns were ground into meal and used in many dishes by early Americans providing needed sustenance.  Acorns must be rendered edible for man’s consumption.  The acorn’s tough shell houses the nut meat and a bitter substance called tannin.  This substance protects the nut, but must be leeched before grinding the nut meat into flour or meal.  Keep in mind tannin is used to tan hides – to turn soft skins into leather.

Given this information, I began to meditate on how this might apply to my life in terms of becoming a source of nourishment for others.  Up until this point, I had thought more about kingdom multiplication, lives being generated both biologically and spiritually through my life and my descendants' lives.  Now a new truth to chew on: God desires my life be made suitable for consumption by others.  With loving determination and at my invitation, God has purposed to leech from my heart every vestige of bitterness so that I might better participate with Him in sustaining life.  Scripture teaches, "To whom much is given, much is required."  In this busy season, I've needed to appreciate afresh God's fervent desire to match my life requirements by continually giving the more needed -- more freedom with more responsibility, more rest in the context of more work.  The Giver of every perfect gift, He lives to give!!

Aware of some bad attitudes with unidentified roots, I had been asking God to “free me up!”  Pleased to oblige, He unearthed a deep and gnarled root this week and began a cleansing, softening process.  Leeching involves a series of “washings” – water baths to draw out undesired sources of bitterness; pleasant bubble baths they are not!!  I have been washed in tubs of tears as God has led me to honestly confess deeply painful feelings, boiling them down to one to be reckoned with:  feeling used, not cared for.  Elaborating would not edify anyone, safe to say that God is at work following my admission, preparing me to be VOLUNTARILY CONSUMED – spent for His glory in the care of others.  I’ve wondered if in the process He might also be preparing me to trust, as a tiny child resting on His strong and mighty arm, and as a woman willing to risk sharing her beauty, free at last from the shell of self-protection, ground into fine nutritious meal at the cross.

Oh the beauty of self-forgetfulness!!

Nourished to Sustain Others,
For more inspirational reading, please visit Spiritual Sundays at www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com

Rest on the Nest

I have missed you, my imagined audience and dear reader of my heart.  Explaining my absence would take up time and ink, thus I’ll jump right in with today’s story.  This past fall while planning for my Thanksgiving table, I came across a large wooden acorn I couldn’t pass up.  Don’t ask me why it drew my eye, it simply did.  To this cute nut I added other oversized fall elements to include a fairytale pumpkin, velvet leaves, and richly colored flowers with fuzzy centers.  A woodland theme sprang to life throughout my home.  I planned all manner of “cutesy” food to make with my family in mind, including acorns made from donut holes.  It seemed acorns were leaping from store shelves into my basket throughout the holidays – ornaments for the tree, ingredients to bake and make acorn cookies, paper to make acorn shaped gift tags, etc.  I began to question if my attraction to (okay, obsession with) this capped little nut might be more than a passing fancy stirred by holiday marketers and Pinterest.  At that point, I decided to read about acorns, and to meditate on the spiritual implications of this symbol of multiplied-life packed tightly into a plain Jane brown seed.  I was hooked!!  God encouraged me to delve deep, to mine throughout the coming year all He had for me in this new symbol.  He gave me a couple of words and a phrase to focus on as well, to look to as new banners waving lovely in Spirit wind over my life.  The words: PEACE, HOPE, and the phrase REST ON THE NEST also dovetail with the symbol, though I only begin to understand how.

 Before joining in with my daughter, who jokingly commented the acorn fit a nut like me well as a symbol, track with me for a few paragraphs.  Excited by the truth that from my ordinary life God will generate a multitude of life-bearers, I took to the walls of my home and painted not one, but two family trees.  I don’t claim that the past couple of months have been spent engaging in Spirit-inspired decorating, but I have altered my surroundings, and incorporated God’s words to me to serve as reminders of the life-change and blessing He has in store for me, and those whose lives my life affects.  Last year the word was JOY, the symbol the dragonfly – oh and how He did bless me richly through both.  This year He adds to JOY, PEACE, and HOPE, and no doubt more than I begin to imagine or think through a humble member of His creation, the acorn.  I’m all ears!!!

Lesson one came early in the year with the death of one of my dear patients.  The following is an excerpt from a letter written to his family.  Names and a few details have been changed to protect privacy:


About a week before David went home to be with Jesus, we observed from your kitchen window a storm rolling in, the sky turning deep blue in the distance.  In the foreground an assortment of birds scrambled at the feeder – doves, chickadees, sparrows for morsels of food.  They were so close I could have pet their feathered backs were panes of glass not between us.  I thought at the time about God caring for the birds through your family’s loving hands.  You as devoted caregivers taught me much!!  From this window we watched a lot of life during my biweekly visits:  plump rabbits, escapees from a neighbor’s hutch that for weeks ate your roses, a fat black cat lurking, hunting, and squirrels scampering about.  Here at your table we appreciated life, meanwhile on this side of the glass a dying man taught a multitude of lessons often without words as he sojourned home.  Primarily, he taught me to let go and trust, as he demonstrated giving up more and more of this life’s pleasures and freedoms:  independence, privacy, enjoyment of food and drink, restful sleep, a clear-thinking mind, mobility.  And he did so peacefully, calmly, not as one without hope or desire to live fully.

I left your house that day and, for a brief second, thought I heard the wind chimes on your front yard tree playing notes of a hymn.  I realized it was the bell tower of the church up the street chiming a familiar melody.  I rolled down my windows as I slowly made my way through town, trying to make the red lights (instead of the green), pausing to drink in the music and live fully in the moment, sensing the veil between earth and heaven fluttering in the January breeze.  I looked up the side streets and noted the trees lit white from the sun behind me – shining winter glorious against the navy sky.  I thought what a picture of David’s life deep in winter, shining bright against a dark backdrop, waiting patiently for new life spring.  I thought about the music of life and how I must pause more often to listen closely.

God informed me recently that I was to “rest on the nest(s).”  Long story short, He revealed that I not only was to figuratively rest on my own family nest, but that I had many nests to rest quietly upon in my spirit.  Your family, specifically David, represented one of my nests – a person taken into my heart to care for, pray for, nurture, warm, and wait on the Lord over, with trust and peace.  God prepared me for the day soon approaching when David would break free from his prison shell and take flight into the heavens.  There in your driveway the morning we all knew the time was near, I sobbed to think of you and your husband losing your son, to think of no longer coming week after week to the little home with the white picket fence and the wind chimes and birds, the pineapple cake, and the fish stories, and the family I’d come to love.  I grieved my loss and yours too, and then I gave thanks for all God had given me through a quiet soul named David, as I sought to care for and offer hope to him.

I learned in the course of caring for David what hospice means, and provides on all sides – and that it is what I’m made for, and have been groomed by God for in this season.  I embraced fully in my experience with your family joy and sorrow, gain and loss, bitter and sweet rolled into one by the Lord.  I learned to abide more deeply in Jesus and rest upon my nests through our weekly encounters!!

Nesting mama birds and acorns fallen to earth whisper softly, “Rest, wait yielded and still on God to generate life, both new and abundant.”  This flies in the face of culture that screams continually “Hurry up!  Scratch, claw, compete, control, fix, strive to produce the life you desire for yourself and others.”  I am determined to still and align my heart with God’s heart!!

I've been given many nests to rest upon!

Resting in His Shadow,
For more inspirational reading, please visit Spiritual Sundays at www.bloggerspirit.blogspot.com