Pour Out Your Heart

As a parent I try, perhaps too much, to address the root issue rather than just the symptoms. 

Bad behavior and poor choices are symptoms of a hurting heart.

I have found it helpful to use word pictures, and as often as possible real objects to draw out what is in the heart of my children. 

This day I only used words. We’ll likely do it again and I’ll try to get pictures.
During our devotion time, on a morning far from ideal, I led my children something like this.

Take 5 minutes and imagine you are a cup. Inside of you, your cup is everything you think and feel right now.

God is holding out his hands, cupped together. Pour your cup into his hands. Give him everything. You can talk to him, you can write it down, or draw if you want to.

After the 5 minutes I continued.

Ask God to fill your cup with himself, his Spirit, his truth, his strength for the day. Again you can write down or draw anything he shows you or tells you.

One of my children was still not on track for a better day. I asked if they had poured out their cup.

I did but some stuff stayed in there.

We talked through what it was – a hurt unforgiven and grief

Grief seems so hard to pour out because it just comes back and you begin to wonder if you ever poured it out at all. I guess that’s why I like to write it down.

We talked about how letting it go gives more room for grace. 

God can only fill the empty places. Only God can fill the empty places completely, eternally.

I shared a little different take on pouring out in previous post.

Let the Wind Blow

I originally posted this in April. I really need the reminder today as the clean up continues. God is faithful, in him I put my trust.

The wind has been howling outside, not just blowing, really strong, destructive winds for much of the winter. My husband farms so he’s out in it all day every day. It really wears him out. The wind makes things so much harder to deal with at the farm. It’s draining just listening to the storm rage, especially at night as the snow blasts the house as another gust strikes.
I felt as I sang that the winds are blowing in our life, too, harsh winds of testing. The song says “I will not be afraid, I will face the wind”. I thought about hiding in the cleft of the rock, sheltered from the wind. The circumstances may howl but I am safe in God. I don’t know if I need to face the wind or simply hang on and thank Him for preserving me through it. 
Then I thought of the house built on the rock. I like to remember that it stood firm. You know you sing the song about the foolish man and the wise man. The wise man’s house stands firm. Firm through what? A storm, a storm strong enough to demolish another house! So in the story, Jesus, His Word, God Himself is our rock upon which we build. Building there ensures our house will stand, not that storms will not blow. I always picture this house on somewhat of a cliff, like bedrock. In an area that gets wind this would get the brunt of it. This morning I could not sing that I would not be afraid. I don’t want to admit it but I am afraid. Not scared, not losing my faith, not in danger of my house falling down, but anxious, worried, confused. Fear sneaks in. Fear is at the root of all those things.
My picture went on. The house is on the rock, solid and safe. Around the house I have put a lot of work, sweat, blood and tears into landscaping. There are beautiful large trees planted specially in just the right spot. There are some shrubs, beautiful with fragrant flowers in the spring. On one side there are more evergreens. These not so old, still many years of growing ahead. Near the house are flower beds, cultivated, planned and collected for years. There are benches near the memory garden for quiet reflection. Last of all are the fruit trees. Loved and longed for fruit trees. They were planted a few years ago, tended and protected until they can mature and bear fruit. They are so close. But now the storm! The winds! The winds are raging. They have been blowing for months. I don’t know when they will stop. I don’t know what will be left of my plans and dreams, all my hard work, when they do.
I know I am safe in my house. I know some of the things that are established and secure in my house, my marriage, my children, all our needs are met. But the storm! I can’t stay inside my house and pretend the wind isn’t blowing. Neither can I go out to protect my trees and flowers, my dreams. The storm is too strong. It seems all I can do is wait out the storm and see what remains. What will God preserve for me?
I am not satisfied with this seemingly helpless waiting. Didn’t God tell me to plant those trees, at least some of them? Why would he send or allow a storm to destroy what I planted in obedience? What would it mean if the big trees are uprooted in this storm? What if my fruit trees die? What if I only heard part of the instructions? What if I planted an English garden and I was supposed to plant an oriental one? If God told me to plant the trees can I rebuke the wind? What do I do until it stops? 
I must rest in the One who holds the future, not even in His promises, just in Him. It may be that everything I planted was in perfect obedience. It may also be that it needs to be uprooted to make room for His plans for the next season. Only what is pleasing to Him will survive the storm. That has to be okay. In my house is praise, peace, and rest as long as I remember and trust who my God is. I must hold to Him, the dream giver, not to the dream.
These winds of testing can be winds of refreshing if I remember God is in control and working all things, even this storm for my good. I will be stronger. I will be more confident of His voice. I will be refined. Perhaps I will face the wind.
The wind is blowing like never before. Even if nothing is recognizable when the storm is over, it will be okay. Everything will be okay.

As I come back to this a few weeks later the winds have lessened. The severe storm is over. I can begin to survey the wreckage. Some things are destroyed. It will be a long hard clean-up process. Some things were badly damaged and only time and faith will tell how they can be repaired and survive. There is hope under the destruction. The rock is still there, and the house is fine. The greatest hope comes from knowing God will work it all for my good as I continue to seek Him. As I go about cleaning up I will uncover new growth. There will be new dreams. The clean-up will be painful at times. My faith will be stronger because I have endured the wind.
“Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” Song of Solomon 4:16 KJV
I found this verse when I was looking for the title and artist for the song. What a good reminder that it is His garden after all. What does it matter to me what He does with it? I planted it all for Him anyway.

Awake, awake o north wind,

Awake awake o south wind

Blow over me

Come o winds of testing

Come winds of refreshing

Blow over me

Let the winds blow

I won’t be afraid

I will face the wind

I won’t be afraid

Excerpts from Fling Wide by Misty Edwards

Christmas is About Jesus Birthday Party

Christmas is About Jesus is 2! 
Please help me celebrate! 

Interview by Elaine Littau on October 17 and Eliza Earsman on October 20.

I’m guest posting about “Redeeming the Sights of Christmas” on Little Life Lessons October 18.

Working Writers and Bloggers is hosting us on October 19. I’ll tell you about where this idea of a virtual birthday party started. 

Also on October 20, two years since Christmas is About Jesus was released I’ll be hanging out on Facebook to chat with anyone who can stop by. I would love to visit with you if you have read my book or not. I hope you will join me along the way!

Gifts – What’s a birthday party without gifts! Here’s how to get yours:
For the printable coloring pages and ornaments to match the devotions email me @ mukkove@kovescove.com with “gifts” in the subject line. I’ll get them to your inbox.

I’m giving away one Christmas is About Jesus gift set. Gift set includes 1 paperback, 1 matching journal, and 1 printed and hung set of ornaments. You can enter as many times as you like. 
Enter by commenting between October 17 and 20 on any of my co-hosts blogs for the birthday party: Elaine LittauLittle Life Lessons, Working Writers and Bloggers, and Eliza Earsman.

Leave a comment on this blog, Christmas is About Jesus or my website, Kove’s Cove.

Like Mukkove Johnson – Christian Author on Facebook & Christmas is About Jesus on Facebook.

And finally sign up for Encouragement from Kove’s Cove.

Many ways to enter. I hope you enjoy the party and take home something worth keeping as well!

Pastor Dennis “Joy – Fruit of Righteousness”

From John 15:1-15

v11 Jesus joy in us

Jesus was very joyful – Hebrews 1:8b, 9 oil of gladness above all others

We may have to smileby faith.

Psalm 16 say sin the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy

Kingdom is Love, joyand righteousness

John 14 ended with Jesus saying it was time to leave the upper room. Likely the group was walking toward Gethsemane during the conversation in John 15.

 Points from v 1 -8, 16

1)   Jesus is the Vine – source of everything good2)   The Father is the vinedresser, the fruit inspector

          Vinedressers prune for more productivity, pruning redirects the energy of the plant toward bearing fruit.3)   Believers are branches

4)   We are chosen to bear eternal fruit

          What is eternal fruit?Righteousness(Phil 1:9-11 & Heb 12:11), Fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22, 23) Influencing the world for good to God’s glory.

We are to imitate the Father and inspect fruit as well.

How we respond to discipline will determine how much fruit we produce.

Leaves are impressive and showy, but they are not fruit, not eternal. Even if the leaves are serving your whole life, healing the sick and raising the dead, if it is not done for the glory of God it is not righteous and not eternal.

How do I become more fruitful?

Abide in the Word of God, words and person – connected to the Vine

          Meditate on, take in, act on, and speak

The Father is speaking and directing, we must listen and obey.

Abide in his love

          Meditate on, take in, act on, and speak

God wants to talk to me about me, not only things to do, things to change or work on, but me. I am a child and he wants a Father/child relationship not a master/servant relationship. God speaks good things, life giving words.

An abiding relationship with the Father equips us to advance the Kingdom.

Promised Land * Part 3

We left Moses in chapter 5 complaining to God about how things turned out when he requested a break for the Hebrews. I too often find myself inwardly complaining about how things are turning out. I’d like it to be so much easier. Much more immediate.
 In Exodus 6 God restates to Moses his covenant to Abraham and his promise to bring Israel from Egypt to make them his people.
    And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage. Exodus 6:9 

I regret to say I have often responded to truth and God’s promises that way- unable to listen because I was too focused on my hurt, confusion, or whatever form of “anguish of spirit”. I frequently deal with that in my son as well. It makes wish I had learned my lessons better and sooner. It also makes me more determined to learn them now and to train him with the foundation to stand on God’s promises despite feelings and perspective.
  And Moses spake before the LORD, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?  Exodus 6:12

Moses is discouraged when the people don’t listen to him. I always understood that until studying this time when I realized God had already told Moses the plan was not going to work right away. Why was he surprised or discouraged by the trouble he knew was coming? Why am I? Focus. When I focus on my feelings, my wishes, my way, my whatever, I lose sight of God and that opens me to discouragement. I easily forget that Jesus told us we would have trouble, enemies, and hard times. I don’t want any of that. When I remember it not all about me and focus on God I get a very different picture. How can I relate with compassion to someone who is grieving if I have had no loss myself? I have to value others enough to pay the price to identify with them. Jesus did.

Are the ones Jesus died for worth my inconvenience? Too often my attitude says “no, not really”. I’m hurting. This is hard for me. They just don’t understand.

Drawing close to the Father is the only answer. Close enough to feel his heartbeat, to cherish his love. When I receive his love how can I not love those he loves? How can I not be willing to sacrifice everything for them to know his love as well?

Promised Land – Part 1

Promised Land – Part 2

How I See Others

How I see people has so much bearing on how they see themselves. There is so much I can learn from this, letting someone know that they matter, and meaning it.                                      
It’s easy to do if I ask for the heart of the Father. Each one matters to him. Jesus died for each one – how’s that for significance and value? God created each in his image, there is good to call out in each one I meet from the total stranger I will never see again to the child who is expertly trying to push my buttons, yet again.                                                                                                                  Janet Callaway shared a powerful message about this in her post 2 Words to Change the WorldThe video Janet shares is powerful and worth watching, contemplating, and mostly putting into practice. It will make a difference because you matter, too.

Pastor Dennis September 25, 2011

The Helper – John 14:16-18

The one who strengthens, comes alongside

*Challenge to read John 13 on Mondays, 14 on Tuesdays, 15 on Wednesdays, 16 on Thursdays, and 17 on Fridays for the next 5 weeks

God’s commands are not a burden when we love him. Obeying brings blessings.

We need a greater revelation of God’s love (meditate on John 14:21, 15:10)

What was Jesus last command to his disciples? Wait in Jerusalem for power from Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:8)

          Be led by the Spirit with the Word. (Rom 8:14)

          The Holy Spirit baptized us into God’s family (1 Cor 14:12)

          We are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13)

          John the Baptist said we would be baptized with Spirit and fire (Matt 3:11)

          Holy Spirit to teach us all things (John 14:26)

Is the boldness of the Lord upon me? Can people look at my works and see the Father, see Holy Spirit working?

The Spirit is in me to bear fruit to the glory of the Father. (John 14:11-13)

My name is in the Book of Life. What am I risking to help others get their name in the Book of Life?

Am I available to use for his purposes?

What has gotten in the way of saying “yes” to God in any way?

In Old Testament times the priests were responsible to keep the fire always burning in the temple. As a Christian I am responsible to keep my fire burning.

Spoons of Grace

A friend shared this article with me a while back on The Spoon Theory by Christine Miserandino. It is well worth the read. Christine has Lupus and created The Spoon Theory to answer a friends inquiries about life with Lupus. A handful of spoons begins to represent the resources available for the day. It is a powerful illustration of the choices and mindset of someone with health issues.

While I have never had a serious illness or disability The Spoon Theory made me think about how we all need to guard our time and emotional resources instead of taking so much for granted. This came to me again as our family is dealing with some big losses. One morning when my second son was having a particularly hard time I introduced the idea of emotional spoons. Each day we start with a certain number of spoons (emotional energy, capacity). Normally we have more than enough to get through a day.

With a handful of spoons we went through a day talking about what would normally use a spoon or gain one. I took spoons away for school work, chores, and arguing. I showed when we are grieving we may be short some spoons, or they may be harder for us to hang on to. Every day is different.

Since I was using the spoons to represent emotional capacity we talked about ways to preserve spoons and to get spoons back. Being kind. Patient. Remember others are hurting, too – even if it looks different for them. Being in a family that is all grieving it is a relief that not everyone experiences the same emotions at the same time. What a wreck we would be then.

Keeping the grief inside costs you a spoon. Sharing someone else’s grief helps you both hang on to one.  

I considered having everyone actually have a container of spoons they could take from to show how they were doing. I really like the idea. It would be a great visual. However the chances of me following through to have it be meaningful are not very good. I decided we would each decorate a spoon to hang on the family board as a reminder that we all need more grace, for ourselves and each other.

While they finished their spoons I read to them from A Time to Grieve by Kenneth C. Haugk. It was helpful to hear what grief is. They felt better knowing their questions and emotions were normal and would get better. As we do more reading I’ll be posting other books we find helpful. Tear Soup by Pat Schwiebertis one I really like. It puts the process of grieving in a story that is more relatable to children.

On the Family Board