Archive for April, 2008

Where are you?

April 17, 2008

Where are you?

On any given day, in any given city, there is no shortage of answers to this question.

“Where am I?” – I am between jobs, I am struggling financially, I am sitting in the hospital with a very sick child, I am being served divorce papers, I am in prison, I am experiencing infertility, I am barely clinging to my faith, I am thinking that God has forgotten about me, I am depressed, I am confused . . .

Most of us have been to some of these places or have watched someone go there. Situations like these seem defining. When we look in the mirror – there we are – in that “place” we never dreamed we’d be. And the worst part? When we arrive at that “place” – always unexpectedly – it’s easy to become convinced that we no longer qualify to function in our place in the Body of Christ. We believe the lie that because our situations are not small and insignificant but instead seem to have consumed all of ‘life’ as we know it, that we – by default – must forfeit walking in our kingdom purpose.

We attempt to grasp at scriptures that say our trials will refine us, and mold us into the image of Jesus, yet when we assess our situation, we feel less like Christ than before we first believed. Then we open up and swallow one of our enemy’s favorite lies:

“You are in this “place” because you have failed, and God just can’t use you now.”

The problem with this lie, the reason it is so easy to swallow is because it is accompanied by tons of stinkin’ evidence and facts that are difficult to dispute. In light of this, allow me to offer something that I think God would applaud:

“WHERE you are . . . is not WHO you are!”

(For the rest of this post, follow me to CWO’s Internet Cafe’)

The Basement

April 13, 2008

. . . . The basement was dark. It was always dark. There was no light. There was never light. Those who existed there neither liked nor disliked it – it was simply their reality, and since they weren’t alone, they managed . . . somehow. Not only was the basement always dark, it was also always damp and cold and always smelled of death and decay. Those who existed there no longer noticed the odor. Life in the basement was predictable. Nothing ever changed – not the smell, not the temperature, not the dampness, not the darkness.

Each inhabitant lived in his own corner of the basement and mostly, they kept their faces to the wall. It was comfortable that way. Occasionally the inhabitants discussed things such as “What ‘light’ might be like . . . if it really existed”. But eventually, in the darkness, someone would stub a toe in the darkness or fall on the slimy, wet floor and after that, conversations about “light” seemed irrelevant and childish. Then everyone would slowly meander back to their own corners of the basement where they were accustomed to the surroundings – though they could not see.

Regularly, the basement inhabitants would each feel sharp, gripping pain coming from somewhere in the darkness. Some of the pains were quick. Other pains were slow and very deep and seemed to never end. Because it was dark, those in pain would simply blame the nearest inhabitant for their injury. Because of this, the basement was always filled with anger and disagreement and accusation and denial. Battles with frustration and hopelessness were commonplace.

Such was the life of the inhabitants of the dark basement. None could see, yet all were convinced that those nearest them were the cause of their pain. Because of this, they kept everyone at a distance – it seemed to be a decent enough plan (because of the darkness.) But somehow, despite how careful they were, regardless of how much distance they put between themselves and others, they still felt the occasional stabbing pains in the dark. Over time, the basement inhabitants became hardened and calloused to their surroundings – simply to survive. After all, in the darkness, a person couldn’t change anything, so he always had to be prepared for the next, unavoidable pain.

One day, without warning, a huge door (that no one had ever noticed before) opened into the basement. Suddenly, there was mayhem and confusion! Inhabitants scrambled like frightened bugs, quickly trying to locate their corners. Though their eyes were now stinging and in pain they were desperately trying to make sense of what was happening. Something had entered through the door and was illuminating the basement for the first time. Could this be light? Why was it painful? Why were some attracted to it while others were repulsed? How long had that door been there and what was its purpose?

Most of the basement inhabitants were shouting by now, “Shut the door!” The light was blinding to eyes that had only known darkness and it lit up the basement to expose the vile reality that was their life. Some were angry – others were confused – but a few . . . were intriged.

Next, through the light, stepped someone who called himself “A Servant of the Most High” and a “Bearer of Good News.” He began to announce that anyone who wished to leave the basement could do so at any time. The “Most High” had secured accommodations for them all upstairs in the house and they were to given free reign. “A banquet table awaits you all!” he said. “Let us proceed upstairs where the Lord of the House anxiously awaits your arrival. He desires that you leave this dark, miserable place, open your eyes to the truth and step into what has lovingly been prepared for you!” Having said this, the “Servant” stepped back through the door, into the light and held the door open for any basement inhabitants wishing to leave the basement and enter the “House.”

During the Servant’s announcement, some of the inhabitants began to look around as their eyes adjusted to the light. Most of them were still angry at the intrusion and had already found their way back to their corners of the basement – desperately trying to avoid the light. Most were mumbling things like, “What gives him the right to judge how we live?” and “Who says the house is better than the basement?!” Still others were paralyzed by their pride – a pride which made them too embarrassed to admit that their dark basement corner may not have been as good as they once believed.

A few began to notice, however, that someone was trying desperately to find a place to hide in the unexpected light — darting from place to place to conceal his presence. And as he darted, he poked and stabbed at any inhabitant he could reach, causing them each great pain. Even in the presence of light, some of the inhabitants continued to blame anyone near them for the pain. Most of them, even in the presence of the light, had put their faces back into their dark corners and therefore were unaware of who was actually causing the pain.

As minutes passed, a few inhabitants began to realize that this evil creature had fooled everyone in the basement all of their lives. He had been sneaking around in the dark causing pain. HE KNEW that as long as he kept them busy blaming one another, busy being angry, busy being hurt, disappointed and prideful – that they would never accept the invitation of the Lord of the House and therefore they would miss everything prepared for them (and since HE wasn’t invited upstairs, he did not want them to go!)

Once these few basement inhabitants realized how they had been deceived and what they had been missing, they began to step toward the door, into the light. Some of the others mocked them and even tried to stop them. But their eyes had been opened by the words of the “Servant” and they would no longer be content with the stinking, wet, dark basement now that they knew that the house existed and that they had been invited.

They stepped toward the light and the door, leaving the pain, confusion, despair, anger and deception of the darkness behind them, to receive all that the “Servant” spoke of . . . and then some.


. . . . . . . . . back in the basement, the door was shut and the miserable, burning light was gone. Some inhabitants were already arguing over a couple of recently vacated dark corners. Others were sure that those who had left the basement were certainly sorry by now for leaving such comfortable, predictable surroundings. And meanwhile . . . . . those unexpected, sharp, lingering pains in the darkness continued, and the inhabitants blamed one another.

Mommy!

April 11, 2008

Mother’s Day is fast approaching and we wanted to take this opportunity to bless one really special mom this year. In order to do that, we’ve teamed up with some fabulous companies who have that same desire. The package that has been put together will give Mom everything she needs for the up and coming school year PLUS MORE!

Now, we fully believe that every mom deserves this package but since we can only give it to one mom, here is what needs to be done….

Nominate the mom you believe deserves it the most. Is she a single mom? a military mom? a widow? a mom of a child with special needs? Has she overcome certain obstacles? Let us know her story. Why does she deserve this package? What would it do for her family? Let us know and she could be the recipient of this amazing package and the person who nominates her will also receive a gift! Your nominations must be electronically mailed to: homeschoolinghearts@gmail.com with “Nomination for Mother’s Day” in the subject line.

You have from now until May 7th at midnight to submit your nomination. Our staff and writers will then collectively consider, pray, and talk it over to decide who will receive it. The decisions will be posted on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 11, 2008.

We will also post a “Tribute” of sorts to all the moms who were nominated. Simply sharing encouraging bits that will honor them as well. You may nominate more than one person but the nominations must be in separate emails.

All nominations will be considered and prizes cannot be exchanged. Please place the button on your blog to spread the word. Let’s bless some Moms this year!

Click on over to Heart of the Matter online to check out the prizes

God is not into labels

April 5, 2008
Because I only had a small finishing touch (a signature) to put on the devotional I had already written, I waited until late last night to do it. It’s a two minute job even for my techo-challenged self. So, some time around 11pm-ish, I sat down to ‘sign’ and post it. Two minutes later, the post disappeared. Seriously.
The disappearing post was about how I occasionally ask God to “label” my trials. I sometimes tell Him that if He labeled them, and I had some kind of warning – before the tough situation hit – I might possibly be equipped to react . . . better. (Something like, “Darnelle, pay attention, fiery darts up ahead!!”) So far He’s not gotten on board.

Most of the time when I encounter some trial, some unexpected difficulty, I often catch myself falling into ‘default’ mode. Default mode for me is generally a mixture of anxious thoughts and a sizable portion of fear/doubt. It’s not where I want to be. It’s certainly not where I should be and yet, before I have a chance to think, there I am. Default mode. Eventually I make my way back to thankfulness and praise mode, but usually only after the detour.

Now, I invite you to enjoy the humor with me. I sat down to publish this post – about how I wish God would label my trials to give me some warning and:

#1 – The post disappeared. (then minutes later)
#2 – My husband injured his back (history says – days in bed for him) and all of the over-time dinero he was going to make this weekend – out the window. He is very disappointed and in pain. (then minutes later)
#3 – I walked into the kitchen only to find our income tax bill that states we owe thousands in taxes – (because of the mismanagement of a former – not so ethical – employer)

Strike 3 . . . And not one of them with a label or warning.

The longer I sit here, the more I realize that a few folks reading this, right now, may be sitting at the top of the slide with me, ready to slip on down to default mode. The place where the enemy causes us to forget who we are and more importantly, Who we serve. The place where fear and doubt reign – and not our King. The place where our (un-announced) trials seem bigger than our God.

Maybe today could be a new day. Maybe today, we just skip default mode, and go directly to thankfulness and praise. Maybe today we just trust what we KNOW about Him and not what we think we SEE . Maybe we could stretch ourselves to believe that, really and truly, ALL THINGS, in God’s hands, work together for good.

That’s my plan. Though the trials of today, the ones with no labels or warnings, were a surprise to me, they were not, to Him. That’s good enough. Join me?

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation; My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior . . . (2 Samuel 22:2-3)


Also posted at CWO’s Internet Cafe