Create~Five Minute Friday

“God wishes to make your soul pure. He purifies it by his wisdom just as a refiner purifies metal in the furnace. 

Fire is the only thing which can purify gold.”

Jeanne Guyon~100 Days in the Secret Place CreateHe sits across the room, we share smiles, stolen time out of time, a glimpse of holy ground inside this sacred boundary God has placed around us for such a time as this. I watch as he subconsciously rubs his scarred chest. He mumbles to me the pain lies deep within.

I think back to the evening I anxiously awaited him to open his eyes, the surgeon’s patient words as explained the depth of his work. “There was more damage than I anticipated, the scraping of calcium build up, extensive.”

He has a clean heart today, a new valve, a new lease on life. A cleaner diet, new habits, the tools he needs to maintain the work done.

For years I have prayed Psalm 51:10~13.

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. ~NLT

The cleaning and scraping required of our spiritual hearts not so different from the work the surgeon did on my husbands.

The cleansing of my heart can only be done by the hand of God. The surrendering must come from me.

My feet hit the floor every morning carrying a dirty heart, before I make it to the coffee pot,  a myriad of ungracious thoughts have crossed my mind. It’s a daily thing for me, intentional, to stop and whisper the words, “create in me clean heart, O God.” 

To tell the truth, I whisper them countless times throughout my day.

It’s not so different from the work my husband must do to keep his physical heart maintained. A clean diet, a new way of life. Every day.

My heart will never be clean until I come face to face with The One who created me. In the meantime, I press on. Whispering again and again, “create in me a clean heart, O God.”  Every. Day. 

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn

Today I am joining Kate Motaung’s one word free write, where we write five minutes on the one word prompt.

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Sacred Ground

Holding Each Other Up

Let’s be honest which doesn’t mean being harsh, but gentle.

Let’s be clear which doesn’t mean being dispassionate, but holding each other up in the face of what is true.

Let’s be enduring which doesn’t mean being important or famous, but staying useful like a wheel worn by rain in the same place after years of carrying each others burdens.

Let’s be in awe which doesn’t mean anything but the courage to gape like fish at the surface breaking around our mouths as we meet the air.

Mark Neopo  

IMG_2539I came across these words in a treasure of a book tucked away on the used bookshelf in the back of our independent book store. The book, Time is a River , by one of my favorite fiction writers, Mary Alice Monroe. It left a trail of readers from all over our state. I found bookmarks from various independent book stores, the bookmarks themselves telling their own story.

Time is a River has found a home here, lovingly placed on my shelf.

We are celebrating the gift of time today. The sacred ground of marriage. The bends of our own river of life. The twists and turns, the history of twenty~nine years.

The past forty~four days living the unexpected has made this anniversary more poignant. More tender. More sacred.

We look like a wheel worn by rain after years of carrying each others burdens. Each season different. Times we carried the burdens together, some we carried separately, yet bending and winding along the same path, never straying far from one another.

I don’t mean to paint some idyllic picture far removed from real life. We’ve lived the gritty hard. There have been a few tug of wars, occasional disagreements, days sprinkled with few words. Seasons where the work was finding our way back to the same path.

The work of sacred love is to give grace, to serve and honor one another. To build up and not tear down. Holding one another up in times of falling. Strengthening the ties that bind us together.

These are the things you fight for. The grace, the serving, the honoring.

The payoff, sacred ground where marriage grows and flourishes.

Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.

Mathew 19:6 NLT

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn

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Build~Five Minute Friday

~Build~

~Five Minute Friday~

We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. ~Romans 15: 1&2 NLT

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I skirted the edges of last nights fmfparty hosted by Kate Motaung, hanging out long enough to make a connection with FistbumpMedia’s tech guru Dan King. My eyelids fell closed long before Kate shared the one word prompt.

Checking the time this morning I was shocked by the many news alerts crowding my phone.

The word of the day BUILD.

Build and all it encompasses, timely, after the atrocities committed this past week and again last night.

We have spent generations tearing one another down. Tearing down our country. Worse, tearing down our God. The very foundation we were built upon, fractured.

This is not a political post, discussion, or even my own opinion. It is merely a broken heart at how we treat one another, myself included. How easy it is to pass by the broken, the hungry, those different from us. Intolerant of varied and different opinions. We are all broken. We are all hungry. We are all needy.

Our time would be better spent building one another up. Speaking truth in love rather than harsh, judgmental words.

We are not going to all agree and truly we are not meant to. We are each created in our own unique way, with our own unique gifts, by The Creator, himself.

To not build one another up is to create divisiveness, nurturing an environment where discord grows and festers.

To build is to construct, assemble, and strengthen.

We cannot build one another up when we continue to tear down.

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn 

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A Slice of Everyday Ordinary Life

IMG_2512 “God does not erase our losses, our empty places in our lives, but he does something almost more miraculous. He fills the loss with a sign of his presence. “

Roots & Sky by Christie Purifoy

While others were dipping their toes in the lake, slicing watermelon, possibly preparing for a big barbecue; we have been living the most magical of days.

They were not born from the ordinary, but birthed in the breathtaking hard. The hard stretching our lives beyond comfortable familiar places. Stretching makes room for a holy God to fill our space. Move our days in a slow tempo as if we are dancing to a breezy romantic tune playing softly around us a sacred dance.

The rhythm is teaching me to listen; a common thread weaving in and out of my quiet time. The words scrawled across my journal tell me the same.

He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. 

He restores my soul. ~Psalm 23. 2~3a (a mix of NLT & ESV)

God has given us green meadows in the wilderness place. My man is restored a bit more each day. I rest and keep vigil over him with a keen eye.

The noises and distractions of the world and real life held back, it is peaceful here. Summer’s crescendo strives to her peak. We have slowed and taken notice, flourishing in a softer place.

This has not been our typical summer, spent with family and fourth of July parades. Surrounded by small town flavor, mountain air, banjos and old friends.

Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai in the presence of God, I wonder if he really wanted to leave. To trudge back down the mountain and find God’s people worshiping a golden calf. (Exodus 24 & 32). How hard it must have been to leave perfection and walk up on that scene. 

I speculate, Moses like me, may have wanted to stay on the mountain where he was close to God.

I am prone to stay here, yet we ventured out. It was for us a slice of everyday ordinary life after the thing that has been shaping and molding us in the Potter’s hands.

A slow walk through the farmer’s market. Fresh cut sunflowers, exotic wares, and heirloom tomatoes. Fresh morning air.

From there to the local coffee shop adjacent to our independent bookstore.

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Sipping on a white chocolate frappe, spreading out my journal, scratching words onto the page.

My man walking the downtown square.

Hanging baskets spill over with all manor of bright blooms shading the streets.

I roamed the isles of the bookstore in search of treasure, my search paying off. Two books by one of my favorite fiction writers.  One new and one used.

It has taken me days to write these words. The weight of this sacred time warm and heavy in my hand. When asked how we are doing, to say “okay” does not seem quite enough. To find okay in the midst of this seems out of reach. And maybe it is. To find His presence filling our space is the gift. We are indeed better than okay.

We will lay up this season as treasures in our hearts.

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn

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Protect~Five Minute Friday

~Protect~ ~Protect~

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Discretion will protect you, understanding will guard you. ~Proverbs 2:11

I peeked in to the fmfparty around four am this morning tucking away the word protect. My mind scattered a thousand ways, reminding me of the many firework displays taking place this particular holiday weekend. I read our fearless leader, Kate Motaung’s post, thinking of the many times I pray the same scriptures (Psalm 91) of protection over my own family.

Letting go the words I began to tap them out. My first thought was of our nation and the fearless who serve and protect us. Of my own beautiful niece serving in the Coast Guard.

I think of the mighty hand of God covering me and mine with protection. How I survived the past few weeks leaning into Him, trusting his protection no matter the outcome.

I think of the times I have turned away depending on my own self and the awful wreck of me I became. How much better I am running to Him for shelter, refuge and protection.

Where we are as a nation, a people, as we have stepped out from under His covering. Turned from His wisdom. Denied His ways. Often denying Him.

The tears He must cry on our behalf. How much better we would be, if we would only cry out to Him.

I turn to the mundane of everyday and the things that protect me here. A good man, a faithful dog, a cane, the medic alert button hanging around my neck. In the big picture, they are seemingly the little things, yet they protect and comfort.

 How thankful I am for the many ways God protects. How I long for all to seek and find. Experience Him and His protection.

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t been broken.

2Corinthians 2:7~9 ~The Message

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn

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What I Learned in June

June came with life altering unexpected. In the midst of all the bad there was good. Miracles, gifts of grace, community, a covering of His hand.

What I learned, I am sharing here today, linking up with Emily P. Freeman’s What I learned in June.

“…God was good in the midst of all the bad.” 

Christa Black Gifford from Heart Made Whole
Honeycomb-8One~ I survived the unthinkable. The one~two punch. Within weeks my precious husband underwent open heart surgery, my sweet Mama broke her hip. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. The need, the desire to be in two places at one time, great. By the Grace of God, I walked through the darkness and waded through the deep. My hand tightly held by the hand of Jesus. A lesson I have learned in five plus decades and one I will continue to learn ’till I see the Forger’s face.

“Oh, how many times the gold is plunged back into the fire~far, far more times than seem necessary. Yet you can be sure the Forger sees impurities no one else can see. The gold must return to the fire again and again until positive proof has been established that it can be no further purified.” Jeanne Guyon from 100 Days in the Secret Place

Two~ We are blessed with community. When we moved to the Wilderness Place, found a church home (View Church), we were intentional in building community. These past weeks we have been provided for, loved on, held up, and prayed over by our community. Community that shows up in big and mighty ways. I knew this and now I have lived this, experienced it. We are blessed.

Three~ Lola is a well known hero now and living large. Lola, our precious rescue dog, part Welsh Corgi, part long hair Dachshund, is famous in these parts. Credited for saving her Papa’s life, Lola led him on the chase that led to his collapse sending us to the emergency room into the surgeon’s hands. We were told had it not been for Lola, my sweet man most likely would not have survived his unknown condition much longer. Needless to say, Lola has risen to hero status in our hearts, our family, our community, and through out the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. PS: she’s quite puffed up and demanding extra cookies as she walks along beside him, building back up his stamina. Happily wagging what we call her “golden tail.” 

Four~ I love Instagram. Instagram has intimidated me from the day I allowed my delightful granddaughter to set up my account. Thanks to Hope*Writers I am learning more and more how to use it. Unlike other social media platforms that feel too much like work, Instagram is just plain fun. I love sitting with a cup of coffee, slowly savoring beautiful pictures and short stories.

I have learned lot in June. Mostly hard, with a little fun sprinkled in. I have grown in my walk with God. I have seen the hands and feet of Jesus at work.

Gifts of Grace

Tammy Mashburn

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Rest~Five Minute Friday

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~Rest~
Five Minute Friday
In that wonderful day when the lord gives his people rest from sorrow and fear, from slavery and chains… 
Isaiah 14:3 NLT
Between desperate prayers and text updates I scrolled the Twitter feed searching out today’s Five Minute Friday prompt from Kate Motaung.
Rest.
This word. This week. This day. Rest has not been anywhere near my grasp. I am overwhelmed, weary to the bone. Fatigue running heavy through my veins. Raw and edgy. Unsettled.
When my body is seemingly at rest, my mind chases thoughts of fear, the what if’s, the what else, and where in this unholy world will we be taken next.
I opened the Bible app and typed in rest. Scripture after scripture scrolled up the page. I wrap my mind around all that life has heaped on us these past days, stepping into the early morning dawn. The air heavy with humidity and heat.
Beneath my feet lies the promise of my favorite yellow blooms. I haven’t tended them, or watered them. Others have stepped up to nurture in my place. I whisper “Lord you are good and you are here in this place.” The promise of beauty beneath my feet, night peels back revealing morning light. I lean into these promises, tucking them away in my heart.
Coming back in I pull out the words that speak personal to me.
In that wonderful day when the lord gives his people rest from sorrow and fear, from slavery and chains… 
Isaiah 14:3 NLT
I pray the words, “Lord give me rest from sorrow and fear, from slavery and chains. You are good. You are here. I am yours.”
Rest comes through quiet whispers of love.
Gifts of Grace
Tammy Mashburn