Christian writers · Family · freedom · God · prayer · signs · thinking · writing for children

What is your “Egypt”?

Studying the Old Testament is not always the easiest thing to do. The Lord knows my heart and that I don’t always “get” what He’s trying to tell me. I have to read, read, and read again. Even then, it’s not always clear.

And from what I can tell, I’m not the only one. When God spoke through His prophets, he repeated himself again, and again, and again so His people would get the message. The passage that illustrates this point today is Jeremiah 42.

The Isrealites ask a prophet to pray for them and ask for God’s direction. They say they’ll do whatever He tells them.

God’s answer (paraphrased) — “Stay put in the land I’ve put you. I’m on your side and you have nothing to be afraid of, even though you are living smack dab in the middle of the enemy’s territory. It’s not where you wanted to be, but I put you there and I’ll protect you. I’ve heard your prayer and I’ll deliver you to where you want to go — in my time. But don’t say you want to go back to Egypt. You’ll die there. I’ll bring calamity on you. Again, do as I say and you’ll be blessed. Stick it out and do what I’ve said. You’ve romanticized where you used to be. But I’ve made it clear — DO NOT GO BACK TO EGYPT.”

(I repeat the above is my paraphrase… Read Jeremiah 42 for the actual wordage!)

So, after reading that passage several times, I asked God what He wanted ME to get out of it. I know what he was telling the Israelites. He repeats it more than 3 times in those verses.

God told the Israelites to NOT go back to Egypt — a physical place of perceived and romanticized comfort and ease. The truth is, they’d been slaves in Egypt, but all they remembered was what they wanted to remember — and were tempted to go back to the place God had saved them from. But what did it mean for me?

What in the world could he be telling me?

The exact same thing He was telling them…

Don’t go back to Egypt. 

If I run to places that God has not told me to go – whether they be physical, emotional, spiritual- they are my “Egypt”.

What is yours?

Do you return to old habits that God has freed you from?

Do you run to old relationships that brought “comfort” for a while… but didn’t bring life?

They are your “Egypt”.

When I’m upset, who do I run to? What do I run to? Where does my mind wander when things aren’t going my way? How about you? If it is anywhere other than God — That is an “Egypt”.

When I’m frustrated and angry, do I air my grievances to others before taking them to the throne? Do I try to find comfort in the world’s view of me and get its approval? How about you? That is an “Egypt”.

When I’m in a place of peace and abundance, do I forget where that peace came from and attribute it to some other source? Friends? Money? Status? Good things happening?  Do I forget to praise God in the good times? Or when I have what I need, but not what I want, do I long for something that is not in God’s plan for me? Do you? If so — we’re running away from God and running toward our “Egypt”.

Do you lay awake at night and worry about things, instead of taking them to God – and leaving those cares with Him? Yup… Egypt.

Do you try to manipulate situations so you get what you want, instead of allowing God to work things out in HIS time? That’s an Egypt, too.

I truly believe that true peace, God’s Shalom, can only be found in Him, regardless of my status in life. But does that mean that I am 100% faithful and never turn my eyes to my “Egypt” instead of Him? Nope. Too many times I’ve run back to old ways of thinking/old habits. But running backwards is not way to win the race. Paul slaps down some truth about this very thing in Philippians 3:12-14 (The Message version):

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

That means there’s no time to be running back to Egypt… and no reason to. So why do we keep doing it? Too often we turn back to the things that we used to find comfort in, conveniently forgetting that it is a “right now” comfort, not the “right” comfort.

There is an old Hymn that’s called. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. I  had only heard the chorus, but there is more to it. Take note of the second verse and third verse.  If we believe those words to be true, we can rest assured that we don’t need to run back to our “Egypts”.

Here are the lyrics:

  1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
    No light in the darkness you see?
    There’s light for a look at the Savior,
    And life more abundant and free!

    • Refrain:
      Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
      Look full in His wonderful face,
      And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
      In the light of His glory and grace.
  2. Through death into life everlasting
    He passed, and we follow Him there;
    O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
    For more than conqu’rors we are!
  3. His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
    Believe Him, and all will be well:
    Then go to a world that is dying,
    His perfect salvation to tell!

 

But Jesus is THE comforter. He is THE Healer. He is THE Provider. He is THE Author and Finisher of our faith.

So what are your Egypts? What do you need to leave behind so you can run forward in your faith?

 

Children's writers conference · Christian Writers Conference · conferences in NC · Family · time management · Write2Ignite · writing for children · writing in NC

Monday, Monday…

skies opening upA new song on the horizon

the melody is drawing near

the harmony of dawn approaching

the rhythm’s beating in my ear

                         —— me

It’s Monday! And guess what? I love Mondays. Yes…I do! I know it’s weird. Most folks hate them.

But for me, Monday is like a mini-New Year’s Day. I love waking up and knowing that I have a brand new week ahead of me. I also love that Monday is the one day of the week I don’t have a full plate. I can stay home (and catch up on laundry, blogs, Monk and dishes) or I can gather up my little chickadees and take them where we decide to go. If I’m feeling extra spunky, I’ll do both!  So what will I do today? I’m sure you’re dying to find out.  Here’s my plan:

  1. Promote Write2Ignite and our new blog, Fire It Up!  Kristi Butler is our blogger today. I hope you’ll head over and check it out!  (promo? check!)
  2. Fold mini-mountain of clothes on my bed and pair up socks while catching up on Monk (and maybe Psych).
  3. Celebrate Columbus Day with my kiddos by chatting about all the OTHER folks that discovered our country first. We’ll also chat about the real Columbus versus the watered down version we read about in history books.
  4. Make out a menu for the week. (White chicken chili is at the top o’the list!)
  5. Make out an exercise routine for the week on my new Wii fit Plus game. That thing rocks!
  6. Enjoy the rain!

What do you have on your plate for this beautiful Monday?

Family · freedom · living according to priorities · time management · writing for children

Quiet

Some days, I long for QUIET. If you know me personally, you might find that hard to believe as I tend to talk more than Oprah, Tyra and Dr. Phil put together.

However odd it may sound…it’s true.

There are days when I don’t even want to talk. I’m not upset. I’m not depressed. I just like the sound of silence. I like to turn off the radio, tv, video games and even the computer and just sit and listen. It’s amazing.

A few months ago, our entire block had a power outage.  It was after 9pm and the power wasn’t back on until well after 3am. There was complete silence (except for the sound of my hubby and children snoring).  I listened to the crickets singing, the frogs calling and all the other nighttime music I seem to miss most other evenings.   IM000232

I wonder what would happen if we shut off all our electronic equipment for just a few hours a day? I’m not suggesting we deliberately cause food to spoil by turning off the fridge. (That’s crazy talk, anyway…I have cheesecake in there!) But I am suggesting a time of unplugging from the electronic and virtual world and plugging INTO the beautiful world around us.

Even if you can’t bring yourself to unplug everything in the house, how about just unplugging yourself for a day or two? Don’t check your email, twitter, myspace or facebook account. Go silent for a while and just breathe.

(and when you get back from your “breather”, check out this article. Then go breathe some more! 🙂 http://www.childrenshealthblog.com/2009/02/09/you-cant-smell-the-roses-if-youre-too-plugged-in/)

Family · living according to priorities · Tennessee · Townsend · Tuckaleechee · WonderWorks · writing

Stalagmites, stalactites and Bears…oh my!

I’m…

Refreshed
Rejuvenated and
Revived

And what, you ask, did I do on this fabulous vacation?

Explored, examined and altogether enjoyed:

A visit to Cades Cove (more on that later)
Spotting a Mama Bear and cub (out in the wild!)
standing half a foot from sleeping bats (hanging out in an old church)
avoiding snakes (too close for comfort – ugh!)
spying Deer (everywhere!)
Touring Tuckaleechee Caverns and learning the difference between stalagmites, stalactites and chandeliers(more on that later, too)
Swimming in a cold, clear, mountain stream in Townsend
hiking up to a small, but beautiful, waterfall behind the Sugarland Welcome center
visiting the Cherokee Museum (broke my heart. seriously)

So….what didn’t I do on this fabulous vacation?

write
blog or
“do” email (okay, I did “do” email…my hubby took HIS computers. But I only read and/or responded to 10 of the 500 emails in my inbox. the rest I marked “as read”. I did NOT want to come home to that!)

We had a wonderful time. I had a chance to just “be”. (more on that later, too, I’m sure!)

Oh yeah — and we went to a place called WonderWorks. Wow. It wasn’t exactly “out in nature” like our other adventures…but it rocked, nonetheless. We need one here!!!

I’m ready to write — but my priorities are now in order (you guessed it, more on that later, too)

What did I bring back from this trip besides a deeper longing for cabin nestled in the woods?

A reminder that every good gift is a gift from the Lord.
And He has given us the gift of life.
Soooo…. I better Live life like I mean it!

Are you living life like YOU mean it?? If not – what are you waiting for?