Michelle Buck

A little peek at things I love

Falling

winter

I forced myself today (actually yesterday, by the time you read this) to think about things other than work, school, or things I needed to get done. I glanced out the window and saw the snow falling, ever so gently–as if it was dancing in mid air before it fell to the ground. I haven’t written much poetry lately, because at times, I start a poem and can’t seem to finish it. Some sort of perfectionist thing. But today, I wrote this in honor of the falling snow…no, in honor of the Creator of the falling snow. For why worship anything beautiful but Him?

 

Falling

Why do they say she is falling

As if she may be injured or hurt

When she floats ever so mildly

And lands softly upon the earth?

 

Why do they say she is falling

When created, this was her design

Released into the atmosphere

When the Maker said “It is time”?

 

Why do they say she is falling

When her purity buries the land

When upon her backdrop, we see

More clearly the Artist’s hand?

 

© Michelle Buck, 2014

The Joy of Reading

The pile of books next to my bed

The pile of books next to my bed

I have always had a love/hate relationship with reading. When I was growing up, my sister would run circles around me reading every Nancy Drew book she could get her hands on, then on to the Hardy Boys. She read every single book at the book mobile (a library in a big van) that related to mysteries. We’d walk from our house to the back of the school, up the hill, and into the parking lot each week just to get our fix of books, but I was never as excited as my sister about books. My books of choice were always informational. I wanted to learn how to be a vet, how to take care of my dog, or how to garden.  Once in awhile, I’d pick up some teenager-ish book about some mystery/love story and I’d read half way through it, bored to tears. I just have never read for enjoyment–at least not fictional stories. She got into the Judy Blume books and I hated them. (My sister especially liked her book, “Dear God, It’s Me Margaret”–because her name is also Margaret and she got a kick out of that). We were just so different, even in what we read.

When I got married, my husband was into the Left Behind series. I thought those books were ridiculous. I just couldn’t understand how someone could write stories about something that hasn’t happened yet. Further, it bothered me how much money they made off it, but that’s another topic for another day. He read Frank Peretti books and some others similar to those, but I read “The Five Love Languages” or “The Power of Praying Wife”.  I never read for fun. I read so I could fix something, better myself, or learn something new.

I’ve tried over the years to pick up some books that were fictional. It’s just painfully slow. I don’t know why, but I can’t embrace fiction. Even biographies tend to bore me–like all the ones about the missionaries. Maybe I’m just so selfish, I can only think of me. I think there is more to it than that.

From time to time, I’ll read a book to the kids and it will spark an interest that I didn’t have before.  “Treasures in the Snow”, “The Tanglewoods Secret” and “Star of Light” by Patricia St. John are a few of my favorites. I like how the author writes, but also captivates my own heart and leads me to want to change. The stories are truly fictional, but the truths underneath the fiction are not to be ignored.  I can read these books to my kids and I feel as if my own heart is exposed–I’ve felt this way before or I know how that feels and so I can understand for a moment how the heart can bend so easily one way or the other.

Nowdays, I have several books piled up next to my bed. At the top of them is “New Morning Mercies” by Paul David Tripp, my Bible, and 2 small books: “The Precious Promises of God” and “The Gospel Primer for Christians”.  I do still have a few books about how to raise teens and how to live like Christ in this culture (thank you Jeanette for the borrow!) Maybe I’m supposed to read more fiction. Maybe I’d be more better rounded if I did. But I am finding the true stories from scripture more than enough to fulfill that need these days. I don’t need a pile of self-help books nor do I need some tacky romance novels or adventure seeking books, I need the simple words of truth. They have changed my life daily. The real excitement for me comes in knowing that my chapter is yet to be written.

True Worship

Jeremiah 10:23-24

I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me, O Lord, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about idols in my life lately.  I think a lot of people assume that when the Old Testament talks about idols, they are referring to a statue. The truth is that anything that replaces the worship of God is an idol. When we care too much what people think, that is an idol. When we love comfort more than obeying God, that is an idol. When we feel like we deserve something and have earned it, that is putting our wants and needs above what God wants.

Paul David Tripp says this:

The question is not whether you will worship, but rather what you will worship–your glorious Creator or something he created. (New Morning Mercies, November 25)

Good things can replace the Giver of those things in my heart. A desire for a good thing becomes a bad thing when that desire become a ruling thing….we are all still tempted to put the gift in the place that the Giver alone should occupy. (New Morning Mercies, November 19)

Spiritual Fakery is one of the chief tools of the enemy….fear of man can masquerade as a sensitive heart towards the needs of others….bondage to the opinions of others can masquerade as a commitment to community. (New Morning Mercies, October 31)

I went to a marriage conference this weekend and I laughed when the speaker, Dr. Stuart Scott was talking about a husband that thought he was God. He said “He is looking for a vacancy in the trinity.”  Isn’t that true of all of us though? I find myself wanting to control the little kingdoms I’ve created. I am noticing more and more that I am selfish and greedy with my time, my energy, and my things. These are idols. And my heart longs for them if I don’t keep them in check. That is why the hymn says “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love…”  Because without God’s help, we will wander and leave. It’s only by God’s grace that He calls us His own and brings us into the fold.

Jeremiah 17:9 says this about our hearts:

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

And this passage in James 1 sheds light on our hearts further:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

There have been times where I felt like God was hiding something from me. Why is this so hard? Why can’t I “get it”? Yes, I did need Christ to open up my eyes to help me see my sin–all of which were idols and desires that were in my own heart. It was not God’s fault, but my own. Romans 1 explains it further:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness,  since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Frightening. We have no excuses. Even those who are sinning and blinded by their sin–they have zero excuses on Judgment Day. God has made everything plain to them. The reason why we don’t understand is because of our sin. And for us Christians, we are being renewed day by day. We have to put off our old sinful nature and put on the new nature of Christ and His holiness.

Romans 6 instructs us how to live:

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (vs. 11-14)

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (vs. 17-18)

Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (vs. 19-23)

I have idols in my heart and so what do I do with them? How do I rid myself of them? It’s not easy. Romans 6 tells me to not be a slave to those idols. Instead, I need to offer myself to God and become His slave. That sounds like a horrible thing–to be someone’s slave. But when we are slaves of righteousness, we no longer are in bondage to the things that once held us down. I am finding as I let go of these idols, there is real freedom. I am free to love because I don’t have to fear being rejected. I am free to be bold in my faith, because I don’t have to fear or worry about what others will think of me. I can live life knowing that my Creator knows me, loves me, and takes care of everything. When I’m in bondage to my own idols, I am frantic, nervous, and anxious or depressed. My tiny little kingdom of self is suffocating.  God’s kingdom is life-giving.

If you look at the verse I started with (Jeremiah 10), the author’s heart is right where we need to be–asking for God to correct us but knowing He has the power to bring us to nothing, yet He loves us and cares for us enough to want us to be more like Himself.

I’ll conclude with Romans 12:1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Tears and Aspergers

I cried for her today.

path

I wish there was no such thing as Aspergers or ADD or learning disabilities. I wish there was no such thing as motor skill problems and vestibular imbalance. I wish her right and left brain worked in unison. I wish she could climb stairs, tie shoe laces, and speak without anxiety. I wish the rules never changed for her. I wish she always knew what to expect.

I wish she could read facial expressions. I wish she wasn’t naïve. I wish she had one friend…just one. I wish math wasn’t hard and riding a bike was easy. I wish she understood language at grade level. I wish she was aware of her body odors, her tangled hair, and her messy face. I wish she wanted to talk to me more.  I wish we could talk like best friends, or even like mother and daughter. I wish she played with my hair and let me play with hers. I wish while driving, we’d talk about boys. I wish she’d tell me what book she was reading, what her life was like, and who her favorite actor was. I wish she’d sing out loud. I wish she’d ask me how I was doing. I wish she hugged me when I cried.

But even though all those things hurt, there is one thing I wish more than a cure for Aspergers and ADD and a learning disability. I wish she lived in a world where Aspergers wasn’t a bad thing and where she was always accepted and loved. Where I didn’t have to explain things. Where she didn’t have to feel like she didn’t fit in. Because a world without Aspergers is a world without the writers, the thinkers, the poets, the artists, and the problem solvers. And what kind of world would that be?

What I really wish for is this: I wish the world wasn’t so cruel.

Fear not, Little flock

sky

Lately, it is the simple things in scripture that I am finding so comforting. When Jesus speaks in Luke 12:32, I can almost hear his concern and love for his disciples–and for me:

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

It’s as if Jesus wraps his arm around me during one of those moments where I’m just not sure of anything–when my feet feel like they are about to slip from the rocks, when my world seems like it might fall and simply says “Fear not, little flock“.  Yes, I am so small and I lack ability. I don’t know what to do or where to turn and I’m afraid of what might happen next.

He reminds me that I don’t have to know.  I don’t have to try so hard because my Father delights and finds pleasure in giving me the Kingdom–in putting his kingdom before me and taking away my little, tumbling kingdoms. He shows me His Kingdom and it’s beautiful. It’s filled with only good things for me. But in order to take hold of His Kingdom, I have to let go of my own idols and kingdoms that I so easily build up around him.

In practical ways this plays out. I’m tired and want to go to sleep, but my son wants a story and to be tucked into bed and a hug. My kingdom shouts for comfort and rest. God’s kingdom whispers love and selflessness. My husband is irritating me and I just want to be right and show him up. My kingdom blasts pride and arrogance. God’s kingdom gently reminds me to love my husband and win him over without a word. I am fearful of not being “good enough”. My kingdom wants to be noticed, to be loved, and to be approved. God’s kingdom swallows up my selfishness and pride and glorifies Christ–who in turn gives me his righteousness and goodness.

Every moment is a moment where I can choose my kingdom or God’s kingdom. God keeps reminding me that I am precious to him. He reminds me that He finds joy in giving me gifts I could never possibly give myself, nor could I ever earn them. Today I read this from Proverbs 4:18-19 and for the first time, I could feel deep inside me what this truly meant:

The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

Let my life shine like the sun–let me continue to be brighter and brighter each new day.

Oceans

I had this song in my head the past 2 days. So much truth in this song. Here are the lyrics:

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep, my faith will stand

Chorus:
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed, and You won’t start now

Chorus:
So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

Bridge:
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior x 3

Ending:
I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine
I am Yours, and You are mine

 

The Bridge of this song is my prayer. I am noticing the more I surrender to Jesus, the more he takes me where I could never go–a place of freedom, a place of complete trust in His mighty power and love. A trust without borders…something I have never known my entire life nor did I ever think was possible. Could this broken heart trust another? Could this broken life be redeemed? Could I ever be loved just as I am? Yes, but so much more than I have ever imagined.

What love is it to be known and loved by Jesus.

 

Slaves to Righteousness

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At times, I have to look back at things I have written and remind myself again of something God is teaching me. Today, I looked back at the blog I wrote, Uncomfortable Grace, and had to think through suffering again–but maybe with a few new layers to it.

I realized something about myself the other day.  I had some hints towards this previously, but it sort of smacked me in the face a few days ago and in a sense, ruined me. I want to be ruined, so trust me, it’s all ok. When God ruins me, it is always a good thing.

In regards to suffering, I have turned it into an idol.  You are probably wondering what that actually means, so let me clarify. I feel like most of my life I have suffered. I have lost people I loved. I have faced different kinds of abuses. I have grown up without knowing love. I have faced the loss of friendships and family. I have suffered the consequences of sin. I have been subjected to other people’s sins. I have dealt with anxiety and depression most of my life. I often feel inadequate and small. And when you deal with all of those kinds of things–and we all do to some degree or another–you know how much it hurts to have to suffer. When you burn yourself on the stove, you are extra careful the next time not to do it again. That’s how I am with suffering.

It plays out like this: While on the computer, I see a news article about a child being abducted, Ebola, ISIS, or any other not-so-random events that take place everyday in which a person suffers. I see the headline and I click to a different page and refuse to read it. I see a prayer request come through a group email and I delete it. I get invited to a persons house, but I know their life is consumed at the moment in drama and suffering and so I turn it down. At church, the Pastor is going to talk about hell so I don’t show up. It’s all just too much for me to handle. I maneuver my life in a way that says “I don’t want to suffer and I don’t want to hear how you suffer either”. And that is how I make suffering into an idol. Or rather, how I live to gain a pain-free life.

I avoid circumstances, people, and events that remind me of my suffering. I see everything as a threat to my comfort. That’s why I’m touchy and overly sensitive and it’s why I demonize the person next to me. I can’t get close to a person if I make them into a horrible human being and so then I will never get hurt by them either. But the truth is, I do hurt. I hurt myself everyday trying to avoid the many ways in which I could be blessed. I am hurting everyone I never minister to. I am making myself into this idol where I play judge and jury over my own life and the lives of those around me. I try to dictate who will hurt me and control every situation so I don’t have to listen to or be a part of pain. Like a movie, I play through scenarios in my head trying to prepare myself for the next disaster as if to somehow make it a little less painful with each anxious thought. And if that doesn’t work, I drown out the pain with silly distractions like TV or social media.

I am a slave to suffering–bound up in chains by every perceived threat to my comfort, every sad story I don’t want to hear, and every relationship that could end in disaster (and in my mind, they all do). I am enslaved so much that I can’t walk through doors God opens, or soar above my suffering to find the real source of all comfort. Slowly the chains of my idols will fall off when I remove the old man and put on the new and ask God to forgive me from making idols out of worldly things. In learning to say no to sin and becoming obedient to righteousness, I don’t have to be a slave to the power of sin and death. Instead, I can be sanctified through the teaching of Jesus, the one I want to be mastered by.

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.  (Romans 6:16-19)

In becoming Christ’s slave, you and I are completely free–free to love, to feel pain, to embrace forgiveness, and to go after holiness with wild abandon. Jesus removes the blinders and opens the doors, revealing himself to us in such a loving way. I’m thankful for how He loves me.

What Can Stand Against Us

Singing this song today with the windows open. Because I’m an adult and I do what I want :)

The Voice

radiance

It’s strange how sometimes everything ties into a theme of what I’m learning–what Jesus is teaching me. It’s like a thousand little messages soaring into my heart and they are all saying the same things–reminders, of what I need to know in this moment.

For the kids school, we are reading a book called “The Tanglewood’s Secret”. I remember reading this to my kids about 5 years ago, when my girls were little. Every time I read it, I am reminded of the Good Shepherd who loves and cares for me. It is a message I need to hear over and over, but as things change, it means something different to me than it did 5 years ago. It means more.

In the book, Ruth asks the shepherd Mr. Tandy how he hears God’s voice. She says that she tries and tries to hear it, but she hears nothing. Mr. Tandy calls his sheep but tells Ruth to look at the ones by the hedge. He calls the sheep and all but the ones by the hedge come to him. The ones by the hedge were new to the fold and were once shepherded by another. So Mr. Tandy says this:

They’ve only joined my flock two days ago. But let them walk in the pastures with me for a week or two, and let me put them in my fold and let me put my hands on their heads and feed them, and they’ll soon come to know my voice…Now, there are many voices speaking to your heart, Ruth…

And this is where I am learning too. There are many voices and which one do I listen to most? I’m not a new Christian, but in many ways, I feel like I have just only scratched the surface of the Christian life. I am learning to listen to that still, small voice and to say “no” to ungodliness. It’s amazing what I thought I knew about God, when I knew so little. He’s a wonderful mystery just waiting to be heard and if I open my eyes and ears to Him, what will He say?

I’m reading another book to my older girls entitled, “What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?” by Ed Welch. It’s written for teens, but goodness–it speaks volumes to me. In it, Welch talks about how life comes down to three questions: Who is God? Who am I? Who are these other people?

We all want to think the best of ourselves, but when it comes down to it, I find myself blaming God, using others, and thinking way too highly of myself. In the book, he talks about prayers we might pray like “Lord, please let me be normal”.  But he continues, “Lord, please don’t let me be normal”.  This has been my prayer. My reason is that everyone “normal” is hurtful. I don’t want to be like them. He goes on, “If I can’t fit in, then I’ll be a vampire.” That might sound strange to some people, but to me–it sounded about right. I’d rather be this ugly person who no one likes and make myself mean and spiteful than be “normal” and abused and walked all over. I’d rather have an ugly heart than let someone screw me over. That’s where I have been at in the past 4 years of my life.

Lately, that has been changing. I find unlovable people more lovable. I don’t hate myself so much. I have grace for my kids and family (not always, but that is the goal).  I can take a deep breath and let God’s words soothe me. I stood outside today on my deck thinking, “I don’t belong here” but then closed my eyes and remembered I do because God put me here. He gives me peace in storms. The other night we had a disheartening incident occur and I simply closed my eyes and asked God to help me. It would be easy for me to just fall apart. I did end up feeling sad about it all, but I just kept asking God to help me. It’s his voice that I want to hear.

The world lies to me every chance it gets. It tells me I deserve something I don’t. It puffs up my pride. It makes me think less of humanity and more of myself. Meanwhile, it tells me to think so little of God. It turns my feelings, my pain, my own self into an idol. But while doing that, I become a stone. My heart can’t love. I wallow in my feelings. I am useless as a person. I can’t help those around me. I can’t be anything to anyone. This is why I need God so much. This is why He is so beautiful to me. That was me. But that isn’t me. Rather, that’s not who He intended me to be.

I have so far to go in this Christian life, but when I sit back and think of how God can take someone like me and make them beautiful, lovely, and a blessing to other people despite all of what I have experienced and all of what my sin has done to me, I am thankful. And now my prayer is, “Lord, make me more like you.” And I know He will.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.  Titus 3:3-8 (NIV)

Farewell Facebook

I deleted facebook last night. I had a few statuses that were fairly comical or cute. I thought I’d share them here:

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It’s been fun, but goodbye facebook friends. I will miss you :)

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