Wednesday, May 22, 2019

When Letting Go is the Best Decision

Did you see "To Joey, With Love"?
If you didn't, you should remedy that situation as soon as possible.
And if you did, then you know the beautiful story of Joey and Rory Feek.
Well, one of my Facebook friends posted this video and I couldn't help but watch it. Because I love their story. And now I am really feeling all the feels.
I mean, Rory had no idea that just a few short years after he and Joey made their video - he would be living it. Without her.

Do you realize how very fleeting our lives are?

Sorry. I am not trying to be a downer in the middle of your week, but these thoughts are just flooding my heart right now.
Perhaps because of a conversation I had with a friend yesterday.
She has spent the past 30+ years in a nearly non-existent relationship with her siblings, and yesterday we were talking about it - wondering if there will ever be reconciliation. Thirty plus years! It breaks my heart to consider a life-time of love and family and memories missed because of wrong understandings, stubborn minds, and misguided perspectives.
My friend's heart is broken, too.
Then came this video from Joey and Rory, and the harsh reality that time is shorter than we know.
And the whole package has me wanting to beg the world to forgive and be reconciled to one another.
Because on our last day - or the day after somebody else's last day - I think we're really going to wish we had let go of the burdens, the anger, the pain, even the bitterness onto which we'd been holding.
I believe we will be wishing we had let go of it long, long ago.
In fact, if we're honest, I suspect many of us would like to be free of the load today.
So I have to ask, do you need to seek forgiveness from someone?
Or do you need to extend that grace to another? Even though they don't deserve it???
Oh, would you humble yourself and enter into reconciliation?
Because life is too precious to let resentment rule.


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

HE is with You

In Sunday school this past weekend, we were playing a game to continue our lesson from large group.
The "game" involved rolling a dice to determine how far each person was to move their playing piece on the board, then answering a question from the pile of cards in the middle of the board.
One of the questions chosen was this: What is one thing you would like to tell your friends about God? And the sweet young girl sitting next to me answered, "HE is with you."
She went on to remind us that the Bible says, "HE will never leave you nor forsake you," and told us that means God is always with us.

I was delighted by this young girl's words and the faith she was expressing, but it wasn't until yesterday that the Truth of what she spoke really settled in my heart. It was in the moments, actually, before I sat down to write this post.
I was feeling unsettled about things and circumstances, unsure of what I even wanted to write.
So I came before my Father to talk about it all.
(I was cold, and I had wrapped up in my favorite blanket. As I sat there sung and warm, I imagined myself sitting right on God's lap, with His loving arms gently enfolding me. Ahhhh.)
I just began pouring out my heart - the thoughts and feelings which had been running around and over and through me.
And as I prayed for the frazzled young mother who I had seen earlier in the grocery store I thought, HE sees you, dear one. HE knows your struggle, and HE is with you.
I prayed for a friend who is facing divorce and I realized, HE sees you, my friend. HE has the power to heal, and HE is with you.
Then I began praying for a young man I know who is lost and trying to find his way in this world, and I was comforted to know God sees him, too. Though this young man doesn't yet acknowledge that God is real - God sees him and loves him and is with him, too.
And the prayers kept flowing. For the one who is struggling with depression. For the one who is stepping out into independence in a big world. For the one whose self-confidence is blinding him to his need for a Savior. For the one who knows she desperately needs a Savior, but is struggling to believe HE could possibly love her. I thought of the promise that my Sunday school buddy had espoused just the day before, and I delighted in knowing my Father's faithfulness to be with us.
And then I sighed, as peacefulness enveloped me, with the realization that just as HE is faithful to be with all of these for whom I was praying - so HE is faithful to be with me.
Little ol' me.
In the midst of my own questions and uncertainties and wonderings about what lies ahead of me.
HE is with me. And that's all I really need to know.

How about you, my friend? Do you know with confidence that GOD is with you in the face of whatever comes your way today?


Monday, May 20, 2019

Psalm 66:11

You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.

~Psalm 66:11


Friday, May 17, 2019

It's My Pleasure

Wednesday was an interesting day for me.

That is to say, my heart was feeling heavy because of a couple of interactions I had with not-very-happy people.

The first individual was a woman who came through the drive-thru at work. From the get-go I could tell she was upset about something, because she barely responded to me when I greeted her. She held her lips tightly, she made very little eye contact, and said even less. Everything in me wanted to reach out with grace and encouragement, but her non-verbal communication made it clear that she was not willing to receive any such input from me. So I just took care of her order, and tried to express as much kindness as possible in a situation where communication was all but non-existent.
The second individual was someone I encountered on my way home from work. Actually, we didn't even have a legitimate interaction. It really was just him expressing his feelings to me. That is, I was driving in front of him and - apparently - I did something terribly wrong. Not sure if it was the fact that I had been driving the speed limit, or if I somehow took too long turning into my neighborhood. Either way, when he passed me he cussed me out significantly and thoroughly blasted his car horn.
And since I had been thinking about the first individual while I was driving, my heart felt doubly sad by the anger expressed by individual number 2. Not that I was taking anything personally, mind you.
On a personal level, his actions didn't bother me at all.
Rather, the sadness came from the thought that two people (Likely more than two...) were wandering around town full of so much angst and irritation.
I wondered what burdens they must be carrying which caused them to react so harshly.
What trouble was overwhelming their day?
I deeply wished I could have done something to lighten each of their loads.
But that was not an option.

And, then?
Then I got home and found a message in my email which reminded me that God's love "should motivate us to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."
It said, "This is the clothing culture He wants us to adopt and wear every single day. And the most important article of clothing? Love." (Colossians 3:12-14)
With those words God's Spirit reminded me that although I may not always be able to say the words or do the things which will alleviate a person's pain, I can always - always! - treat them with love as I wear Him. He reminded me that when I respond with grace, others may get a glimpse of Him - and that matters so much more than anything I can say or do.

Yes, Lord. Please make me more like YOU so my little corner of the world may experience the goodness of your love.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Refine Me, LORD

For you, O God, tested us,
You refined us like silver.

~Psalm 66:10
As I mentioned in my video Monday, I am well aware that virtually NOBODY likes to be tested.
Myself, included!
However, sometime back in 2004/2005 God used Psalm 66:10 to convince me that being tested by Him is, in fact, a very good thing. HE used this verse - and the image of a silversmith refining silver over a fire - to set me on a course of trusting Him, even when times are hard. God spoke to my spirit through Psalm 66:10, and brought hope to a woman who - most of the time - felt utterly hopeless.
And today I would like to spend time with you studying two other passages from scripture which speak to the hope we can have in the midst of hard times.

First, let's look at Romans 5.
3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope.

~Romans 5:3-4
These two verses are short, but there is so much good stuff packed into them! And I love this passage because it has me going from, What??? to, Ohhh! to, Ahhhh.
I mean, that first statement. What does Paul suggest we should do?
Does it strike you as strange that we would rejoice in our sufferings?
It is that concept which first had me asking, What???
But a bit of digging led me to better understanding. I think we all know what "hope" means - expectation of what is certain. But do you know what Paul was talking about when he mentioned "character"? Strong's Concordance defines the Greek word for "character" in this verse this way: the process or result of trial, proving, approval. A commentary I read years ago explained "character" as referring to "the quality of a person who has been tested - and has passed the test!"
And I - in the midst of intense mothering struggles - thought, Ohhhh! How I would like to have that quality! But, according to the text, from where does character come?
And what produces that perseverance?
Sooooo, if we're going to have the quality of being one who has passed the test, what is going to be necessary in our lives?
Thus we can say, Ahhhh. Yes. I will rejoice in suffering. Because in the end I will have proven character. I will have passed the test!

So, that's Paul.
James says a similar thing.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

~James 1:2-4
This passage, like the Romans verses, begins with a bit of a difficult statement. Because, do we really consider our trials with joy? Especially pure joy???
But, also like the Romans passage, we learn about perseverance.
What do these verses tell us about perseverance? What is its result?
You might be interested to know that "mature" as it is used in this verse refers to the completeness of Christian character. It is the end-goal of a spiritual journey.
And, "complete"? Get this!
It is "divinely-allotted wholeness".
It's like God saying, Yes! This is just the way I wanted it (her!) to be.

Do you see the hope in these verses?
Can you understand why the psalmist was rejoicing in the testing through which God took him?
Think about the allure of silver. The truth is, Christ-like character - God's desire for each of us - is infinitely more beautiful than silver. And that beauty is what God's testing aims to produce in us.
So I say, Yes! Refine me, LORD.
How about you?


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

I am a Blessed Mom

A lot has changed in our home since Mother's Day 2018.
That is to say, 2/3 of our children no longer call our house "home".
And the difference in the life circumstances of my children led me to have very low expectations for Mother's Day.
I don't say that to communicate that I had bitter feelings about how I anticipated the day would go.
I truly wasn't concerned about it.
In fact, I had found a new recipe which I was looking forward to trying for dinner.
In previous years, when all the kids were home, I *might* have been known to leave Sunday "blank" on the menu during the second week in May. Just so they knew I wasn't planning on cooking for Mother's Day. But this year I was aware that life has taken new directions, and I was ready to bend with it.

My kids, however, had different plans.

They connected with each other and made plans to converge on our house Sunday evening to prepare a wonderful dinner and dessert. (Keto-approved, nonetheless!)
And this is what happened when their plans came to fruition:

After a delicious dinner we sat around the table and talked. (One of my favorite things to do!)
And then, we played several rounds of Spicy Uno. (Another one of my favorite things!)

So, for Mother's Day 2019: I didn't have to make dinner, all my kids were home, and we had a blast enjoying one another's company.
It was a great day!


Monday, May 13, 2019

Psalm 66:10

For you, O God, tested us,
You refined us like silver.

~Psalm 66:10