Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Distractions can be good things

Here are three definitions of "distraction" according to the Farlex online dictionary:
1. a mental state characterized by a lack of clear and orderly thought and behavior
2. mental turmoil or madness
3. an obstacle to attention

I often think of distraction as a bad thing, and rightly so - I dont want to be distracted from the goal, the path, the vision, the plan, the truth.
And let's not even talk about number two :)

But sometimes I have learned there are God planted and designed distractions that are meant for the other definition I found...
4. an entertainment that provokes pleased interest and distracts you from worries and vexations

I am so glad that God will always make a way to keep me from becoming focused on my own issue, struggle, or concern (of course its my choice to see it and take it and sometimes I can be stubborn... you?)
As I move through a time of distinct and sudden change in my life, where its easy to even focus on concern for others to the point of feeling overwhelmed, my God is gracious to provide me a chance to be distracted by His goodness.
I got to go with my husband Todd tonight as Lonnie Hunley, President of IBEW Local 760 for 25 years, was honored for that service - for his dedication and loyalty, for working to better life for the members and their families, for helping to give back to more than 10 local charities just this year alone.
It was a precious time for him and for the Local 760 members who attended the special resolution passed at the City Council meeting tonight.
And it was a sweet way to have God give me a break too and say - "let go for a few minutes child, look, see what good things I am doing overhere!"

See I know the right verses about not worrying, laying things at His feet, etc etc... but sometimes I'm stubborn, and I need Him to lovingly distract me... you?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Winter Snow

Sitting here on Christmas morning I am a mixed bag of emotions. I am quiet in the moment, realizing how softly (to the world at least), how quietly announced the Christ child's arrival was. Only to a few who watched with eyes and ears and hearts and minds tuned to the cosmos and scriptures understood. The soft coos from the King of Kings lips I am sure soothed the animals back to sleep after His cries as he entered this world shattered the stillness of that night and set them on edge.
But I also feel a churning in my heart with the knowledge of how Heaven and the places in between it and this earth shook with the war of angels and demons to keep Him and His mother safe - and to usher in the deliverance of our Savior! Think of just how closely the evil one must have been watching the events unfold and how frantic he was to stop it!

As I think of the One called Faithful and True, how He will arrive for me one day in His full Glory and Majesty, that He gave up that Glory to become an infant that was inexpressibly Son of God and Son of man in need of food and warmth, as I am... it is beyond my understanding.

But that is, now that I think of it, how I spend most of the days on my journey here - on an exciting swinging pendulum with my God.

I am a back and forth in my thoughts on Him. There are moments of soft murmurs of praise and awe, whispers of love, silent petitions of peace for myself or someone else. Then seemingly within minutes He can reveal Himself in miracles, undeniable grandness, or something rocks me to the core and in the next breathe come my desperate pleas and cries for mercy, movement of mountains, and the question He is big enough to hear and take on Himself - why God????

Moments of quiet sweetness considering the threads He weaves between my life and those around me (and oh my sweet Lord how many go unseen because I am not aware)... slammed up against times of such loud revelations of what He is doing that they demand out loud Hallelujahs from me as He shouts into my life!

I am watching this Christmas snow fall, feeling and hearing the quiet and reverent duet He and I sing to one another. Yet we are also jumping and leaping and dancing with abandonment and joy together, within my heart where He resides this morning!

Merry Christmas Jesus - thank you... its not enough, but Thank You

Dec 25th, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Been a weird day friends...

Ever have a day that feels at moments like its a combination of deja'vu stirred up with what it must be like to be sleep walking - yet you know you are not? Don't know if that accurately describes what this day has been like for me but I don't know what really would anyway... lets just call it 'very weird' why don't we.
I have actually had moments of great clarity today - moments mind you - but they seem to cloud over almost as quickly as they came. And when it happens its almost as if there is a haze that almost has depth and color too just out of my peripheral vision. I think if I could really see it, it might be a blueish green, swirling in and around and settling almost like a light blanket around me... not necessarily touching me or on me but around me very closely.
I'm sitting here now with the tv on, Mr Pickles lounging on the couch, my hubs Todd in his chair eating a bowl of chili, and I somehow don't feel like I'm really even in the room.
I've tried to think on and consider several things of great importance today. In those moments of clarity I managed to settle a few immediate things and address them.
But the other hazy, cloudy, dreamlike moments far outweigh those, and have been so plentiful I almost question now that the clear moments actually existed :)
It's amazing how God has wired us, with protective measures built in, so that if we stay tuned into ourselves closely enough we can recognize the flags that raise themselves up to warn us. Yep, I think He's telling me to get some sleep, sleep that hasn't been plentiful or come easily lately.
So yes, I see the flag.
I think I will eat a bowl of chili next to Mr Pickles, talk with Hubs for a bit to reconnect from spending this day apart, read Jeremiah 32:40-41, then settle down for a long winters nap.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Worshipping While I Wait

Well, its been a long time since I last posted... and I think I now know why. I kept wondering with as much as I enjoy writing, sharing, and pondering on paper so to speak why is it that God has literally stilled my hands?
To listen more. To learn more. To read, to hear from His Word, from His people, from His music, from His creation... at first I wondered if I did such a great job? I thought if I had that I wouldn't be so taken aback by some things in my life right now, right? Surely He plants signs along the way, right? Or does He let things take us by surprise because if we knew what was coming we would be so anxious and panicked by what was coming down the road toward us we would be frozen in place? Yes, its a mixture in life of both - but either way He knows best. He works things together for our good. He is sovereign. He is orchestrating everything from before today, in this moment, and in days to come to accomplish His Will within the choices I make - be them good or bad.
And I do believe with all my heart all these things and more about my God.
And He certainly has been speaking - through all the ways listed above and more. I am amazed each day when I am available and aware just how sweetly He does this.
And are you like me? Sometimes when He speaks do you wonder, even though you are asking for Him to, 'was I really ready for that'?
9 days ago as I literally found myself face first on the floor crying out to Him with all that is within me for some understanding on what was happening in my life, as my husband quietly played guitar leading a small group in intimate worship, as friends around me sang and prayed, and as my friend Lisa held me in her arms, weeping with me with an equally broken heart for me and my pain, and as we both questioned "Why God?!" I clearly heard Him say "Daughter, loved one, worship me while you wait"...
At first I couldn't believe what I had heard, and I cried all the harder - how could this be??? God how can you say this??? I must be hearing this wrong - my heart and head both could not comprehend it - but then there is was again... His still and calm voice in my head and in my heart again saying "Daughter, loved one, worship me while you wait"... oh my God, what you are asking - its so hard, but then He reminded me of the hard things He has done for me that were asked of Him.
And so I do - I worship while I wait on Him to show me what's next, what the questions mean, what I should do... what choice do I have but be obedient? To do anything else will not bring peace, will not bring comfort, and will not allow me true joyful deep fellowship with Him or His people.
And He is Faithful - He gave me just a clearly on a day when I was faltering badly Jeremiah 32:40-41, and then when I faltered once again He clearly gave me Psalm 27:14... and when I shared them each time the response was immediate.
(I so always love that in each of our lives He is constantly weaving threads of truth that bind us to one another)
It is confirmation that the waiting is purposeful, that it will bring promises kept so sweetly, that I can stand on the firm foundation that He is I AM...

Psalm 27:14
"Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."

Jeremiah 32:40-41
"And I will make an everlasting covenant with them (that's us!) - I will never stop doing good for them.
I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me.
I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land"

Oh Lord I want to be planted with deep roots!

I went in search again in His word on this sleepless night for some peace again, because my flesh is weak... and my need for Him to reassure me was strong - I needed to crawl up in His lap and ask Him again, Lord, when will I know the answers I seek? How will I know when I need to turn to the right or to the left? That it's you who directs me? Lord where are my answers hidden?

It was then He led me to Proverbs 2:1-11 and sinking into a warm bath I soaked in this:
1 My child, listen to what I say,
and treasure my commands.
2 Tune your ears to wisdom,
and concentrate on understanding.
3 Cry out for insight,
and ask for understanding.
4 Search for them as you would for silver;
seek them like hidden treasures.
5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord,
and you will gain knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord grants wisdom!
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
8 He guards the paths of the just
and protects those who are faithful to him.
9 Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair,
and you will find the right way to go.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will fill you with joy.
11 Wise choices will watch over you.
Understanding will keep you safe.

Oh Jesus - how I love how you love me!

So I will ask Him again and again for wisdom and knowledge, seek the counsel of those who walk deeply with Him, cry out to Him daily, search His word for hidden treasures, I will do in the mean time what is right and do it with integrity, and I will treasure His guidance.

What ever is on the other side of my waiting, it will arrive with purpose, I will be replanted in His fertile good soil, in His time, and for His greater Glory. And even while I wait and continue to worship Him, I am still a part of His great story :)

Waiting with Joy,

Friday, April 2, 2010

Easter - You're The Story Too!

(by Marisa Lykins first printed Easter 2008 in Christian Family Magazine)

Envying Mary Magdalene This Easter?

We all have Ladies. Admit it, we wish we knew what she saw, felt, experienced. She was in the very presence of Christ! You’ve imagined what it was like, right?
Come on, at least once you’ve tried to…
Imagine how blessed she was to be a woman in His presence.
Imagine seeing miracles performed by a Savior you know can change more than the sight of that man, the legs of that child – He can change the world.
Imagine personally seeing YOUR life made whole out of complete brokenness by the one you call Savior.
Imagine being someone He enjoys being around, talking with, and sharing life with.
Imagine righteous anger at someone questioning His Deity as he stands with those who try to twist His words.
Imagine the pain of realizing He is being mocked, hurt, and dishonored.
Imagine the horror of what they did to Him, at His death, and the ultimate sacrifice He makes even for those who don’t believe yet.
Imagine being so excited and anxious as you contemplate His triumphant return that He told you about!
Imagine being aware that He is Risen!!
Imagine realizing all things are made new – He said it’s why He came!!!
Imagine realizing that this means you, yes even you, will be with Him for Eternity!!!!

Wait a minute… it’s not over 2,000 years ago. You’re you. This is today. You know every bit of what you just read to be as true at this very moment as it was that day she found the tomb empty and then beheld her Lord.
You know the tomb is empty, you behold him in your heart, your spirit. You see miracles every day though the lives around you he changes, in your own brokenness that He healed and make whole. You know righteous anger when others don’t see Him as the Son of God, when they don’t recognize or believe His Sacrifice. You too can know Him intimately if you want. He loves spending time with you. He loves talking with you. He has told you of His triumphant return and given you His Promises, are you not excited and anxious for them?
Then get out there “Mary”, you too can share with the world that you know the Risen Savior Jesus Christ, you know the Truth of what He did… you don’t have to imagine you’re part of the greatest story ever told!

Marisa Lykins
April 2008

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shaken Not Stirred

When is the last time you were afraid? Worried?
Last night at our lifegroup we began the evening just sort of chatting and IT quickly and naturally because of all the media coverage came up – what did we think about the new healthcare plan… were we worried? Afraid? How did we think it would affect us and our families? Then we easily got into the heart of our discussion based on the series our pastor has been doing this month – an unshakable faith.
Some of what causes us to fear something is sometimes known facts, but I venture to guess for most of us (if you’re like me and I think you are) it’s the “unknown”.
Isn’t that what usually causes fear to grip our heart? Keeps us up at night? Give us high blood pressure? Anxiety attacks? Stresses us out?
When was the last time you were really afraid? Is it something happening right now? It is a possible loss of a job? Your health? A rebellious child? A rocky marriage? It’s usually most often because of the unknown and because there are unknowns we begin to work through scenarios of just how bad a situation might be or become – and that always somehow ends up being on the “worse” end of the spectrum, right? We rarely imagine the best possible scenario when there is an unknown. :)
That’s letting fear decide what our perspective is.
We let fear and uncertainty convince us something will go wrong - if not that something is wrong - and that if it does go wrong we let it convince us something is true when it isn't, or that it will be very likely the most horrible thing that could ever possibly happen! Sometimes we rush to judgment and end up even taking someone else down with us in that fear and despair over an end result we cannot begin to predict or know!

It even causes us to decide to judge others situations, or what kind of people they are just because we know so very little about them. When we judge our own situation or others like this we made drastic mistakes. And the results? Well, they are anything but prayerful or discerning reactions. Fear of the unknown distorts our vision and our reactions.

Psalm 112:7
They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.

Psalm 118:6
The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?

Proverbs 1:33
But all who listen to me will live in peace, untroubled by fear of harm.”

Proverbs 3:24
You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly.

Jeremiah 39:17
but I will rescue you from those you fear so much

Might we consider this thought… that whatever the situation may be in actuality or what it may become, and even if it does end up being extremely difficult and causes all sorts of fall out in our lives – that maybe it’s STILL not really all about us?
That the bigger plan may just be about someone else’s needs more than our own, more than about us – that’s even if it’s hard to get through that we are meant to serve someone else in the process that may or may not ever become evident later?
Can we live with that? We should be able to if we truly accept and believe we have a loving faithful God that is never shaken, is never taken, is never sleeping, and if we understand that Romans 11:36 is truth and is the release we need to be unafraid and have an unshakable faith in our God “For from Him, through Him, and to Him are all things.”

Marisa Lykins
March 25, 2010

Sunday, January 17, 2010

a flash of yellow

This morning my own flesh screamed to stay in bed. Then it became my head, overwhelmed with thoughts to distraction for the last 24 hours or so, about the world around me. I feel caged yet the need to be alone.
But the obvious is the easiest to deal with. It's the less obvious, the deeper stuff that's the hardest to deal with when you can't even define it. There has been an underlying buzzing that has been working its way up, louder and louder underneath obvious layers... but what is it? Where is it coming from? Is it real? Imagined? It's driving me crazy I do know that. Making me want to pace this morning.

Finally I recognized it. It's coming from within. Within myself. It's my heart, my heart is working its way from buzzing into a full blown scream... to scream for relief from what is happening around me - it feels as if it it will burst!

It's not the first time.
My heart was screaming when my dad was lying with his hand in mine in the process of death, struggling to breathe, before he finally heard me say go home and breathed his last in my arms and the peace of God washed over me. My heart sang then finally!

When I first beheld the poverty of Columbia on my very first trip with Compassion International it was in the eyes of a young girl named Evelyne, telling me of being raped and beaten by an uncle numerous times, her fear, hurt, despair... then she sang me and the Compassion International team I was with her own song she had wrote about her Redeemer that she saw in the stars as she looked up each night from her bed while it happened and how He saved her, and how His peace washed over her. My heart sang then in that moment and the screaming stopped!

I know what I need. Him. I dig out my laptop and began opening my favorite sites holding Gods Word. Looking for comfort. I couldn't concentrate. Weird I thought, God's Word brings comfort, yes, but today I still felt like pacing.
Then I heard Him whisper, just sit and talk with me.

So I do and I start with the flash of yellow I saw two days ago in footage from Haiti I cannot get past. I cannot get it out of my head. A yellow shirt on a small body underneath the grey block 5 times bigger than her. My heart vibrates.
The grey is everywhere. Stone, mortar, dirt, sand, lack of life.
So much grey it hurts my eyes to look at it. How? Grey by its definition is a "lack of colorfulness", but it hurts, literally hurts my head and my eyes when I look at the photos and reports
Then that flash of yellow on the news video that caught my eye.
Yellow is such a cheerful color... sunshine, daisies, smooth sweet butter, warmth... my granny Reva showed me how to hold buttercups under a chin and see a reflection of that color underneath.
A little yellow shirt, so bright against the grey. I have not been able to get that little flash of yellow out of my mind. Its beginning to whine, my heart.

I wonder if she felt happier that morning just by putting it on. It looked amazingly clean and bright. Maybe it was new, new to her at least.
She looked size wise to be about 4, but size in Haiti in regards to age is not an easy thing to discern.
Malnutrition has made some children so small for their age, their development process very slow and off somehow.
It doesn't matter I guess in the grand scheme of things that I wonder about.

How did her day begin? You might say it doesn't matter in perspective to how it ended, but it does. How her day began, how every child's day began and begins in Haiti matters, as much there as it does for any child here.
I want to the flash of yellow to go away. I want just as much to never forget it. I want my heart to stop screaming. His peace is at the edges, I feel it like a far away outline of a huge bubble so I know its there. But maybe I am meant to hear the screaming for awhile longer.

The flash of yellow I cannot forget, never will. Her little body was silent and unmoving, grey too with the dust of the rubble on and around her.
That yellow shirt... had her mom or dad, maybe a big sister dressed her, maybe lovingly helped her fix her hair in sassy little braids of sorts sticking up all over her head? Were they alive? Did she die alone?
And my heart is not silenced at all - it is writhing as it screams!

But here's what my God shared with me as we talked this morning.
My heart still moves and screams because it needs and desires His comfort and presence, to be closer to Him in this time, and that is my own dance with Him... It is my Lord drawing me to His heart!
To discover His purpose in the goodness that will come of this is the continuation of the dance. And that takes time. How best to walk through something with someone than to hurt for them, with them, even past them. To be a follower of Christ means to follow Him to where He is needed and to see and feel as He does as much as we can. He feels the hurt, the pain, the loss, and as His we should too. Thank you that I feel you God - that you want to dance with me!

I just read a Twitter post that a baby girl was born safely this morning in Port Au Prince Haiti... in the midst of destruction, life begins anew, life goes on.

2 Corinthian 4:8-10 NLT
8 We (they) are pressed on every side by troubles, but we (they) are not crushed. We (they) are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We (They) are hunted down, but we (they) are never abandoned by God. We (they) get knocked down, but we (they)are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our (their) bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our (their) bodies.

My heart screams so yours won't scream alone, so that new born Haitian baby's heart will not scream alone, and so that other hearts may begin to hear and not remain silent for "them".

screaming in love!

Marisa Lykins