Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Promise of a Firm Step



by Danetta Kellar
@DanettaKellar

If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:23

Are you facing a decision today? I am. More than a hundred. 

Will I place others first and see how I can serve them or will I focus on my own need for more rest, my wish that the school year would just be over already? When someone says something I misunderstand, will I assume the worst, judging her? Or will I believe that she too is trying her best and listen again? Will I be a reactor or a responder? 

Each day is comprised of hundreds of little decision-steps. Each one builds on the others, making a pathway through my day. 

I can’t wait until the midst of the busy day to decide my way. I have to do that in time set apart, alone with God, still and listening. It doesn’t really have to take that long. It can be a quiet half hour I take in the evening instead of watching my favorite television show. 

I am so desperate to walk in a way that delights the Lord that I have been known to drop to my knees in prayer in the bathroom, the door locked behind me, in the only place in my house I can get privacy some days. It doesn’t matter what form it takes; what matters is that I pause to seek the Lord’s way for me.

When I have taken time out to do this, both my steps and my stumbling become less stressful. The almost-falls are so much better than the full-on-face-plants. When I have learned the Lord’s way for me, I have His promise of a firm step and His strong arm holding me when I stumble.

Maybe this sounds too esoteric, too vague. How can one know God’s way?

We have been given an instruction manual with all the basics we need to know the way that delights the Lord. 

That manual is the Bible and it shows us the path of life and fulfillment.

If we are not reading it, we won’t walk in it. 

When my steps get shaky and I fall on my face over and over, that’s my cue that I may not be walking in a way that delights the Lord.

I’m believing God’s promises this week. I’m taking time out to put His Word in my heart every day no matter how pressing the crush of busyness is. I am counting on firm steps and a strong hand to catch me when I stumble. (Because I surely will stumble.) How about you? Let’s do it together. 

If you want to join me in #100daysoftruth, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for daily picture posts from God’s Word. 


TWEETABLES

Thursday, May 18, 2017

How to Make It to the End of the Ride (When Life is Moving So Fast You Can Barely Hold On)

By Danetta Kellar

We climbed into the rollercoaster cars, all five of us. I strapped the belt on tight, giving it an extra pull to be sure. The attendant came by and lowered the bar and locked it. Now all I could do was look straight ahead and hold on. 

I was worried about my daughter seated behind me, who was riding a fast coaster for the first time. Her brothers screamed like monkeys, chanting, “Go! Go! Go!” They were ready for a thrill. My husband put his arm protectively around our little girl just as the machine lurched forward with a jolt. 

The next few minutes were a blur as we held on for dear life and hoped our lunch would stay put. The ride was over as quickly as it had begun. I have never been so happy to see the exit.

On our way out, pictures of our terrified faces flashed on a screen. We had survived to tell about it.

Life, especially at the end of a school year, during a big project at work, or a health crisis, can race forward at the speed of a breakneck rollercoaster. 

Everything can become a blur as we hold on for dear life. Concern for others on the ride with us becomes secondary as we try to keep our own selves from being thrown. It’s all we can do to make it to the exit.

Good for us that a hidden camera cannot snap a shot of our terrified faces and post it on a screen in the midst of the high-speed ride of life. (Although I guess anything is possible now.)

The way to hang on in life’s busy seasons is not much different from how we stay put on a rollercoaster ride. 

Secure your belt, and lock the bar. Before any action on any day, secure your heart and mind in the Truth found in God’s Word, the Bible. If you are wondering where to begin, practice reading one Psalm and one Proverb each day. The Psalms teach us how to relate to God. The Proverbs teach us how to relate to each other. 

Lock the bar by reminding yourself who holds your day in His hands. Then look straight ahead and remember to breathe. The exit is coming, and believe it or not, this ride is not as long as it feels.

Hang in there and tell your story when it’s over!

TWEETABLES

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Mother Heart of God

by Danetta Kellar

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord cares for me. Psalm 27:10, HSCB

For those from deeply dysfunctional backgrounds, associating God with father or mother can be repulsive, feel unsafe.

The mere thought of God as a parent can call up memories of abandonment, abuse, and pain. God as Father or Mother can actually be a trigger to those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

These hurting, confused ones often suffer quietly in our churches, or just don’t come at all.

We are trapped in a world of words, and limited by their concepts. 

God, however, is not trapped, confined, nor limited by any language of man nor any gender. He is the original father, mother, and brother. His love existed before the corruption of humanity and the broken path of love it has built over the centuries.

There is redemption for your concept of mother this Mother’s Day. 

It is found in the mother heart of God, the One who knew you before you were born (Psalm 139:16), who wove you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:15), who knows the plans designed for just you (Jeremiah 29:11), all the days of your life (Psalm 139:16). 

God is the One who knows how many hairs are on your head (Matthew 10:30), the One who sings over you while you sleep (Zephaniah 3:17). The Lord keeps vigil over you while you rest, watching and protecting (Psalm 121). God is a Comforter, a Counselor, and a Teacher (John 14:16, 26, Isaiah 9:6). The mothering love of God binds up your wounds and makes you a daisy chain crown of joy instead of sorrow (Isaiah 61:3). God adorns you with a new dress of white (Isaiah 61:10, Revelation 7:9), and calls you a jewel on a necklace (Malachi 3:17). 

This is the God who cares for the little birds but cares so much more for you (Matthew 10:29,31), the One who wants to hear your heart and never tires of listening (Psalm 22:14). 

Come to the Lord this Mother’s Day, and be comforted.

For all the broken mothers and broken children who have failed and are hurting, God waits. Let God our Mother heal all our broken places, mothers and children. And let the concept of Mother be redeemed by the One who mothers our souls.

This is the mother heart of God for you and for me this Mother’s Day.

Take time out to look up each of the verses cited above. Underline them in your Bible as a reminder of how God mothers our hearts. And may you experience the mother love of God on Mother’s Day.


TWEETABLES



Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Difficult (And Inevitable) Place of Disappointment in Marriage


by Danetta Kellar

Disappointment in one another is a difficult place to navigate in marriage.

The pressures of life encroach upon this sacred relationship, changing well-worn paths into treacherous passages. The familiar can become unpredictable, and doubt in each other crouches at the door.

I once hiked a mountain deep in Africa. Along its heights we reached a boggy path along the edge of a cliff, treacherous and slippery. 

The terrain which had at the base been solid and immoveable now transformed to secret pockets of sinking mud and insecure footing. Tufts of moss spotted the way providing the only possible passageway. 

Step by unstable step we climbed. No one spoke. Every eye was fixed upon the precarious footpath, hearts in our throats as we wondered if we would make it to solid ground once again.

Images of the stories I had heard of deaths on this cliffside rose up in my mind like specters of doom. I pushed them away, focusing on my own two feet. 

If I had not seen with my own eyes, climbed with my own feet the secure paths we walked on only yesterday, I would have despaired. 

Reality would have been distorted in my mind, and I would have been sure that no stable ground ever had existed, only mud and mire. 

Marriage can be like that. There are passageways that seem unrecognizable to us, so different they are from the start of the journey. We could swear that the mountain has melted beneath us, the steadiness and hope of earlier days a mirage, a wish.

Has the mountain changed? Does it no longer want to be a mountain? Will we make it? Is there a path anymore? 

If we peer closely, we will find there is a Rock beneath the mountain that never moves. 

It is unchangeable, and it is steadfast. It is the Lord Himself, and He promises to be our sure footing though the way is no longer visible to our eyes. 

We will find this sure footing when we step forward in faith, placing our foot upon the promise. God is the promise. He promises to be the Rock in our marriages and our lives.

When everything else looks, sounds, and feels unstable, we must strengthen our souls by remembering the promise of security upon the only immovable Rock. God, not our spouse, is our Rock and our Redeemer. 

The instant our foot is placed firmly in belief on the ground before us, we find the welcoming strength of the immovable rock holding us steady. Then we do it again. And again. And again. Step by faith-filled, courageous step, we reach the heights. From that vantage point we will gaze on the slippery slope behind us and marvel that we survived.

If your marriage is hurting today and the way seems lost, look for the Rock beneath the mountain. 

There is sure footing for you today, though the way may seem hidden. Step out in faith and stand upon the promise, one stride at a time.


Lord, be the Rock beneath my feet in my marriage today. Be the steadfastness of my feelings and thoughts, and keep me climbing higher. Amen.

TWEETABLES


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Letting Go of What Won’t Grow

by Danetta Kellar

It seems cruel to me to toss aside any little flower, any leaf, any growing thing unless it is truly withered and dead. As a result, my garden is a friend to weeds. 

It is also a place where shrubs grow stunted with strange leaf diseases that have slowed their growth. Alongside the voluptuous and fragrant peonies grow the never-blooming lilacs, slumped in the hard clay, refusing to display. I keep hoping they will one day decide to defy the challenges of their environment, their diseases, and explode in color and life.

But I don’t have time these days to make them flourish. No time to amend the soil, apply the special nutrients that might strengthen them against fungus. On their own they remain, struggling to grow. They are limited, and I am too. And so we are at a stand-off.

I finally gave up last week and pulled up the Indian Hawthorne, putting it out of its misery. In its place, we planted healthy azaleas who love the partial shade. They are happy there and shout in the sunbeams, “What took you so long?”.

As I survey my garden, assessing what is truly thriving and what is not, I can clearly see another landscape, the garden of my life. 

In that garden too there are weeds and well-intended plantings, things which bow low with neglect. I realize it is time to uproot those things which have ceased to thrive. The season is here to make room for new dreams and endeavors. 

It is not cruel to remove that which drains life of its energy and potential. Such a task is wise and leads to joy.

I am doing spring gardening both in my own garden and in my heart. The old is going, and the new is coming. You can do it too, and here is how.

Step back and take a good look.


Take some intentional time apart from the hustle and bustle and carefully survey all that takes your time, energy, and resources. Make a list. Be creative. I use colored pencils and make a visual of all I am carrying, doing, being. 

There are those things that anchor your life like a tree anchors soil; primary relationships, work, rest. They are essential. But then there are those other things. At one time in my life, I had an abundance of time commitments that were like pretty potted flowers that catch the eye and lead to impulse buying. Like those impulse flowers that ended up frying in the sun, my over-commitments withered in the heat of my burn-out.  

Take time to evaluate the big picture from a healthy distance.

Bring it all before God.


Now talk to God about all you identified. Every part, even the little things that nag. Bring it all before Him, and ask the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to guide your thoughts and counsel you about what to keep and what to eliminate. Ask Him to help you put what’s left in order according to priority and purpose. Make a plan in this space alone with God for what changes need to be made. 

I find that when I do this, there are many things that simply need to be mentally and emotionally released to God. After I yield them to Him, they suddenly shrink in size and urgency. Some disappear altogether.

Bring everything before God and make a plan with Him.

Uproot.


Eliminate all that is unnecessary. Be relentless and creative. Are you in a busy season? Is it really necessary to spend three hours each week grocery shopping? Use a free grocery pick-up service without guilt. If it’s available and frees your time up to be with loved ones, rejoice and do it. 

At one busy season living in Africa in my early parenting years, I hired a young man to deliver my vegetables every day. The trek by foot across town every three days for fresh food defeated me and I needed help. As a result, we made new friends with his family and this bone-tired mom received much-needed assistance.

Somehow, women, in particular, have believed the lie that getting help or seeking shortcuts is not spiritual, or strong, or whatever. Let go of that attitude. Look around you at the season you are in. We know you are Wonderwoman. But even she needs to balance her conquests and rest occasionally.

What about relationships? Are you so busy mentoring and helping others that your well has run dry? Be honest about your need for rest and recharging with those who count on you. Then take care of yourself and do what’s necessary to give again when you are stronger.

Eliminate what you can, even if it is just for a while.

Wait. 


Don’t replant right away. Wait and watch what God will do in the space you have opened up in your life. He is the planter and the grower of good things in our lives. If there is something new that can fill that space, it will be clear and not stressful. It will be accompanied by a sense of relief, not strain. This is peace.

Wait patiently on the Lord and let Him fill your new spaces with what is needed.


There are times when my life stretches at the seams like an old black suitcase I once dragged around to the other side of the world. Full of treasures and necessities, it was about to bust wide open. I couldn’t do without a single one of those special things and kept finding more to stuff in. I didn’t mind dragging it so much because everything it contained was so important, and the trip had a foreseeable end. 

But most times, I find life is better when I travel light. My journey through the seasons is much easier when my bag is small and efficient. I get less achy and tired that way, and moreover, I can happily help others with their baggage when mine is not so heavy. 

Take some time out with me this week and let go. Then share your story with me!

TWEETABLES



Thursday, April 20, 2017

When Your Child is Ready to Leave

by Danetta Kellar

Kids leaving home is the topic of discussion at the coffee shop this afternoon. 

A group of friends is settled comfortably into leather couches, chattering about the zeal with which their college students do laundry as soon as they arrive home on the weekend. 

“I don’t even have to touch the laundry! They don’t say hello when they arrive- their laundry is sorted into piles of darks and lights on their beds and they are tackling the job first thing!”

“I taught mine well. They learned to do their laundry while they were still at home. I prepared them to leave! No way did they want to mix colors in the wash and have pink underwear at college!” another chimes in.

One lady, who has been quieter than the others, softly says, “I have to drive four hours to have dinner with him.”

Another pipes up, “Well at least it’s not Connecticut.”

The Quiet One curls her hands around her mug of steaming latte and intensely studies the rip in her jeans.

I am sitting apart, not one of this group. I am a stranger, but their conversation is striking me in a tender and highly personal place today. 

I will be one of them in just a few months. Will he remember how to do his laundry properly, separating the darks and lights like I taught him? Will he want to come home on free weekends, or will he choose to be with friends instead?

Oh no! Time is almost out! HAVE I TAUGHT HIM ENOUGH? DID I COVER EVERYTHING? WILL HE BE OKAY?

…will I be okay?

Images of his tiny toes kicking in the air as I changed his diaper parade across my memory. His squeals of delight as he discovered his first crested chameleon in North Africa peal through my mind. 

I see my wild man racing madly around the courtyard on roller blades while we cheer. I watch my big boy running with all his might down the cobblestoned hill of the old city as I pray silently that when he falls, he will not land head first. 

I feel the mix of annoyance and pride as I discover that frustrating, amazing inventor who turned my dining room table into an engineer’s shop, scattered with bits of wire, tools, super glue, tape, and wood. The boy who decided to trim his bushy eyebrows only to need to steal my eyebrow liner to draw them back in.

That boy.

That young man.

He is ready to leave, but I am not ready to let him go. 

Mothers must suffer this quiet, screaming pain as their goals are realized; the ones they nurtured grow up. All my other feats seem so small next to that exquisite responsibility of raising a boy to become a man, tenderly holding on and knowing when to bravely let go.

He is ready to fly. I will not stand landlocked, holding his wings down. I will open my palm, and I will cheer him on. 

Fly! Fly, my wonderful, amazing Gift-Boy! I will be here when you come home.

Lord, please do not let me stand in the way of this great work you are doing in my child. I see it and I see You in it. But hold the broken pieces of my heart as I watch him go. Amen.


How have you managed to let go, dear reader?

TWEETABLES


Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Synergy of Joy and Sorrow

by Danetta Kellar

I am filled with encouragement; I am overflowing with joy in the midst of all our suffering. 2 Corinthians 7:4

synergy: the interaction or cooperation of two or more agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

When I left him two days before, he was sitting in his leather recliner, giving careful instructions about exactly how he would like his turkey sandwich. Now I found him lying weakly on his back in bed, barely able to gather enough air in his lungs to speak to me. His decline was startling. 

He gallantly whispered, “I’m still fighting.”

I looked into his blue eyes and tried to think of what to say to encourage him. I had just returned from leading a women’s conference in a beautiful mountain inn. He had been so proud of me, so encouraging of my writing and teaching. I decided to do the only thing I could in that moment and began to declare to him the praises of all God had done over the weekend in our hearts. 

As I shared, his struggle to breathe grew noticeably more difficult, his face reddening. With alarm, I exclaimed, “I am so sorry! Am I upsetting you?”

Tears flowed from his eyes as he fought to form the words, “No, I’m not upset. I am rejoicing!” 

I stood there unable to speak for a long time, my young hand holding his old one, our tear soaked faces beaming with joy while our hearts disintegrated with grief.

It is a terrible mystery how we can feel both shattering pain and overflowing joy at the same time. Sorrow alone can drain all life from us, all hope. Joy alone can make us idealists, aloof to the pain of others. But together, sorrow and joy create something more. Something beyond. Something different than they ever can independently be. 

Together, joy and sorrow create a synergy, a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. 

I experienced it poignantly that day standing by the bedside of my father who was transitioning from this world to heaven. His body remained, but his heart and mind were set on the Country to which he would soon go. 

That in-between place, the spiritual terminal where we travel from one dwelling place to another, is a fitting illustration of the synergy of joy and sorrow. When joy and sorrow mingle, we find ourselves in-between. When the two combine, we glimpse both worlds; the one we will all eventually leave behind, and the one to which we may one day go. 

Knowing Christ is the only path to that Greater Country.

Jesus understood the powerful synergy of joy and sorrow the day He took our shame, sin, and fear upon Himself and died in our place on the cross. 

I am certain he hung between this country and the one to come on that volatile day. As He stretched His hands across those wooden beams, Jesus conjoined joy and sorrow once and for all. With His last breath, He declared, It is finished. Jesus finished the joy-sorrow task of bringing all of us Home. 

We see only in part this Resurrection Day. Our suffering, our joy, they are all but glimpses beyond the cross to the place where one day all will be complete and clear.

In the meantime, we are caressed by the mysterious hands of sorrow and joy as they intermingle in our lives. They are ministers of encouragement, cheering us on to Hope, bidding us look upward to that other Country where we will know joy in its fullness one day.

TWEETABLES





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