Monday, January 26, 2015

The Little Things May Just be the Big Things

A small prayer — scrawled in one messy paragraph of sincere words — ended with:
“Please, Lord, set me free.”
Specific areas in my life didn't feel free, and I had some big ideas about what that was supposed to look like.
Over the last twelve months, what has actually unfolded has been quite different than I expected.
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Last year I had the honor of joining the beautiful team of women who write at Deeper Waters. I adore the heart of this ministry and I'm so grateful to Denise Hughes the dreamer behind it all, for seeing my heart. 

We are currently going through, The Christian’s Secret to Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith. This book has had a profound impact on my heart, but you don't have to be reading the book to appreciate the insight.  Today I'm sharing some some words at Deeper Waters and hope you will join me.

While you are there, I hope you will take time to visit some of the things offered at Deeper Waters. You can find encouragement in the areas of faith, friendship, marriage, motherhood and creativity. Plus there is a free Bible reading plan that I am personally following this year. 

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Monday, January 19, 2015

A Promise of Love

He bent down on one knee and asked me to promise my heart to him.

It was the part about keeping the promise for the rest of our lives, that scared me.

My heart had built up walls and in the process had become hard. My soul had conditions on how much I would or even could love. 

Have you been there too? When you think there is no way someone could love you like you need and that life has taken too big of a toll on your heart? 

Me too.

But this man of mine, took a chance on me. 
He drew me close, slipped one arm around my waist and with the other laced his fingers into mine as we danced to some ridiculous song. I wasn’t listening to the words of the music, I could only feel the beat of my heart waking up from its shattered slumber.

And before I knew what was happening, love was wreaking my life in the very best kind of way.

Jim made a promise to love me and I had a choice if I would open up my heart to let myself be loved. 

That is the hard part for us all, isn't it? This being brave and seen and known and to allow love to change us. Because all of us have been hurt in some way by loss and broken dreams.

He slipped the band of sapphires and diamonds on my finger and held my heart close. We made a vow to walk together through life, until there was no more life in us. 

He has shown me what love looks like, one selfless act at a time and his promises kept, have rewritten my heart. 

Love cuts through iron shackles that keep us from really living.

This promise he made? It isn’t love that is based on feelings.

Love, like we have lived, is not a contract that has conditions.

Because real love cannot be limited, fueled or filtered by mere emotions. 

Love doesn't have contingencies, like, “I’m too tired, too stressed, too upset.” 

Or, “When you do this, maybe than I’ll do that.” 

And these? “I will respond in love if you say the things I want to hear, or look thin and beautiful and things go okay – yes, then I’ll love you.” 

That is more of an arrangement, with limits and what I know from being married to this man, is that love isn’t like that at all.

Jim has shown me how to live a covenant kind of love. 

A love that promises to stay. 

Even though the valleys of life can be low and the climb to the summit is steep. And some seasons of life can hurt so deep there are not words, but the silence is pierced by the staying.

Feelings can be liars, driven and sifted through the screen of our past pain, our selfishness and the lies we have believed.

I can tell you with a certain degree of authority, that expectations and conditions  – make bad lovers.

This promise that we made, this covenant love, it is based on facts. 

And the fact is, love is a commitment. 

How do you even do that, when all around there are good people who don’t keep their promises? Folks who say they don't feel the love anymore and just move on? People who just walk out of your life because it was easier to go than to stay? 

Well, the only real answer is found in Jesus.

And marriage is a living picture of Christs love for us. 

Jesus has given us a covenant of grace. His love cuts through all that binds us. This love that had no conditions when He gave up everything to walk to the cross to settle all the issues of  this world, once and for all. 

He loved us so much He died for us.

And this?

Jesus whispers – Let me love you.

Let Me love you.

Let Me love you.

Let Me love you.

Let Me love you.

Jesus longs to take every broken place, every bruised heart and make it into a testimony of His unconditional love.

Just a few months before we walked down the aisle, Jim and I took a leap of faith and trusted in this Jesus and His covenant love. 

We believed that His love doesn’t waiver with our lack or abundance. 

We believed that His love in not founded in our performance and good deeds. 

No striving. 

No working to maintain or attain.

The love of Jesus is a gift. 

His gift is free, but like any gift, you have the choice if you will receive it.

When Jim and I believed on Jesus Christ, we became covenant people who are kept by the Promise. 

We bound our hearts to Jesus and then each other. 

Through storms and valleys, sickness and health, our love story has been rewritten in the red ink of God's love.

By stepping into God's renewing and transforming love, we began to love differently. We began to find out what real love looks like.

We all, in some way, long to have a love story written from our hearts, but more than that, Jesus wants to come in and write His love story on our hearts.

Jim and I will be celebrating our anniversary in a few days. One of the sweet parts of our story is when Jim whispered to me, “I promise to always love you, ” and I opened my heart to love again.  

And friends, Jesus whispers to all of us – Let me love you.

His is the only love that can heal every place in our souls and He is the One who is the eternal Promise-keeper. 

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are all, "yes" in Christ.

Monday, January 12, 2015

What Does Going Deeper Look Like?

The waves rose in rounded swells, making the small boat rise and fall as we worked our way out to open sea. Just a handful of scuba divers were on this outing. 

We had spent days lounging on the turquoise crystal blue beaches, famous in this area and snorkeling the calm shallow waters inside the massive reef system. The stunning underwater world of corals and seagrass were just as breathtaking as the travel brochure had promised. 

On this day, however, we were heading out for open water on the other side of the reef. It was a completely different experience. One that I was personally unprepared for.

With full wet suits and air tanks, we each took turns holding our breath and taking the plunge into the cool Caribbean water.

Upon entry, there is an equalizing of weight and adjusting equipment. Moments when you are engulfed in the salty water as it trickles into each crevice of the wetsuit. Next comes the adjusting of the face mask and clearing the regulator to get the fresh air streaming in, exhaling out, and being enveloped in the bubbles before they rise to the surface.

It’s a strange transition.

A beautiful miracle how you can move from the land where you breathe without thought, to entering this immersed environment where you are completely aware of the sound of every inhale and exhale.  

You have to learn to move in slow motion. You don’t walk vertically, you propel yourself horizontally. You adjust to this foreign habitat and the weightlessness of being buoyant.

And everything is magnified.

You hang suspend in silence and the beauty that can’t be rightly captured with mere words.

My dive partner was a woman I had only met on this trip.

Even though she was thirty years older than me, I found her to be fun, adventurous and kind.

But on this day, the open water felt overwhelmingly large and deep and wide. 

My dive partner must have felt it too. 

She didn't reveal that until we were forty minutes into the dive and over 90 feet below the surface of the water.

That is when she panicked. And panic doesn’t mix well with deep water.

She began her ascent to the top. The number one rule of having a diving buddy is to stick together so, I followed. 

When our heads popped above the surface of that vast body of water all we could see... was more water. 

We strained to see our boat. We struggled to ride the swells, our bodies being carried along, first low and then lifted. When the boat was spotted it looked like a dot on the horizon. And if the boat was a dot then we were a speck. 

Her panic caused her to hang on to me, grabbing for my air regulator even though her equipment worked. We were both struggling to survive. 

It’s hard to talk or reason with words in a sea of water. All I knew to do was to start moving toward the thing that could rescue us. 

I remember wondering if we would make it. 

To be honest, I have no memory of how we actually got all the way back to the boat.  I only know that suddenly the crew members were yelling for us to grab the life line. 

Once on board, sitting, with arms wrapped around my shaking knees, the reality of what we had just lived began to set in.

Something about the vastness of water, the depth of it, the height of the swells, the expanse of endless sky above us and the distance to the boat on the horizon. Well, it put a few things into perspective. It made me think that something, Someone, much bigger existed.

It would be another decade before I would cry out to God and ask Him to save my soul, but I believe that day as the waters were overtaking me, He cupped me in His hand and spared me. 

And in sparing my life, He revealed some of Himself to me. 

This story has not only became part of my story, I think it was part of what changed my story. 


So I'm embarking on this year 2015. 

It feels like casting out into the open surging sea of unknown.

It's a strange transition. 

I've felt engulfed by life, activities, and interruptions. 

But I remember that when I find myself being tossed on the waves of life, it tends to strip away the fluff and the unnecessary. 

And all I have to do is move toward the One who saves. The one who is changing me. The God who embodies wisdom, knowledge and riches. 

Perhaps my prayer and what 'deeper' means to me, is to delve into things that few people step out to uncover. 

I  want more of the deep things of God. 

Like open water diving, I want to explore places rarely seen, take the plunge and discover where true treasure lies. I want to be brave and move into the places God is taking me and rest in the fact that He. Is. In. Control. 

I want to be passionate, authentic, transparent and move into the truly deep issues of the heart and tend to the hearts that God allows in my life. 

And I want to rest in the hands of the Almighty in my weaknesses and live like I know that this is really about His strength and not my strength and that it is all for His glory, not mine.

It could cause terror in my soul if I didn't know the One who, "gathers the waters of the sea into jars and puts the deep into storehouses. "

Since I do know Him, and He knows me, I'm casting out to the deep waters.

Where is the Lord drawing you to friend?

Monday, January 5, 2015

When You Want To Go Deeper

Come sit by me and let’s talk.

Have you been thinking about it too?

This contemplating of moving forward into the noisy, first full week of the brand New Year. And it's already biting at your heels with it's cold wind and crushing demands, but you want to be more intentional than you were last year?

And do you quietly wonder if you will spend the next 360 days caught in the exhausting, monotonous pattern of doing things that don’t spark life in your soul and merely reacting to the daily-ness of your existence with all of its normal pressures?

Yeah, me too.

Just last week I fell in bed, fired up about setting healthy boundaries and not just being the answer to someone else’s current crisis. The next morning the sweetest lady in the whole world called me and asked if her little Chihuahua could come stay with me for a few days.  Just as the words, “I’m sorry, no….,” were leaving my lips she added, “My husband passed away.”

I’ll admit that stuff I wanted to do the night before, just went running out the front door.

So that is the hard thing isn't it? Yes, we all definitely need to say no to some more things that seem like very good commitments. But how do we discern what are God-interruptions from plain old energy consuming distractions?

As you can imagine I don’t have a corner on this, but I do believe that the only way to have wisdom and discernment on any day is to spend time with Jesus.

Long before 2014 had finished, I felt the not-so-subtle moving in my life to release things that were all good, but not the best. Things I have done year after year. Things that quite honestly, are a step of faith to walk away from.

The fact is and will always, always be: every commitment, takes away from something else.

I need wisdom so that at the end of the day, or week, or year, or my whole life….. that I don’t waste it all doing good things, even great things, but miss the very things that God really has for me.

Well, that is my heart anyway. 

I’m feeling the urgency of the hour. And a calling to come into some new territory.

What I have been doing is narrowing the focus of things and going deeper in those things.

It might sound unpleasant, but if I were to go home to heaven this year, there are so many things that really do. not. matter. and that no one, ever, will be impacted by, which I have given great energy, time, and resources to.

No one has time for that.

But what if. 

What if this year were the year that you and I made some small shifts in how we do a few things?

What if we sifted through the rubble of what did not work last year? 

What if we held up to the Light, our thoughts, and motives behind things that drove us a little crazy? 

What if we identified one or two things that stole our energy and our resources?

What if we repented to God about the things that are pouring out of our earnest hearts and start the year, not by ‘hit-the-ground-running,’ mentality that we often think of, but that we would make it a priority to stop, bow down before the Holy God and get quiet.

What if?

What if we started this year, not with resolutions or even One Word, which can be helpful, but they have no power in and of themselves?

The One who has the power is Jesus and He would love for you and me to bring our time and hearts-humbled to Him. There we can lay out our hopes, dreams, and concerns. And when we pray we are talking to the One who can do something about all those details.

The most amazing thing?

God knows what the future holds.

So as we step into the freshness of a new calendar, filled with the hope of brand-new beginnings and glistening with a promise of better things, do you want to join me in writing out a Prayer for 2015?

Prayer is the most intentional, proactive thing we can do and the very best investment in time and eternity we can make.

And if we write out a prayer, we can look back and see how God moves on our behalf.

Before you go, I should tell you. 

In December, I was praying, asking the Lord to give me my One Word for 2015. 

It was early in the month and I thought maybe the word would come to me sometime over the next few weeks. Not even a minute had passed when this word came quietly into my thoughts.


I was instantly telling the Lord that I really didn't like that word.

There were a few things that came immediately to mind. 

None of them were good. 

For example, there was the time I swallowed more chlorinated water than is good for anyone body while taking Lifeguard Training. 

Yeah, I could not drag the #25-pound weight off the drain at the deep end.

Deeper make me think of drowning.

But that morning, as I prepared for the day, it was as if the Lord unpacked why He was giving me that word. 

To sum it up as best I can, it was as if He was telling me to do a few things well instead of doing many things marginally.

So I’m shaking a bit. 

Stepping off the safe shoreline of life and going wherever He takes me in the days ahead, but friends, I am praying up front.

Will you join me?

Please share your One Word for 2015?

If you need some help and inspiration here is a link. 

© Rhonda Quaney