Monday, May 29, 2017

When Trouble Came Knocking

You know, as of late I have been observing things in my life that for some odd reason never occurred to me until now. I don't know if you'd consider me a slow learner or just an eternal optimist with a denial for the obvious. Whichever the case, I am becoming wise to a few things. For instance, last night trouble came knocking at my door and it looked oddly like my husband. Upon arriving home late in the evening, we started arguing about something walking into the front door together. The argument carried itself all the way upstairs as I got ready for bed. He went into another room and I layed down in bed and cried for two hours thinking that he was the biggest jackass in the world. The next morning I was awakened to him asking if I wanted coffee and breakfast and I mumbled " sure" under my breath as I remembered the events of the night before. Hmmmmm, and did he remember the events of the night before? He sure did! It made me have a flashback of when I told my children if they were misbehaving in public that they would be receiving a spanking when we got home. They knew that I meant it so all the way home, they extolled my virtues."You're the best mommy" and "I love you soooooo much mommy" and the best one, "do you love me mommy?". Yeah, smoozing at its finest! That's sort of how I felt with my husband. The breakfast was to smooze me a little to settle me down so that the repercussions of his actions would not be met as severely! Have you ever noticed that in your lives before? Situations that were very troublesome being met with some kind of "peace offering" to make the pill go down easier? I am watching fully now and seem to observe it quite often. Now with children I do understand that it will happen as their little defense/ self preservation mechanisms kick in but adults? I also observed another instance when trouble came knocking with a close friend who for whatever reason misread a text that I had sent her and then continued by texting me back with very harsh words of rebuke and judgement. I felt debased! How could she think that I meant those things that she was saying and how could she not know my heart about the situation? Well, I did what I do best when I feel falsely accused. Yep, cried like a baby. It was not until the next day that she called me and told me that she had indeed read the text wrong and then began to smother me with words of kindness and encouragement and of course apology. The sting of it all was minimized but the pain still lingered a bit. We reconciled any differences and are once more the best of friends and have made a pact that texting is NOT the way to go when we are communicating important subjects. So, what's my "take away" from all these experiences? I have to tell you that I didn't quite frankly know the answer to that one but I did know I had to take it to the one who does have the answers. So, what do you suppose the Lord spoke to me when I asked him what to do when troubles come knocking? Once again it landed back in my lap as to be the one who was to make the changes. Ugh! So, The Lord told me this, that I was to give them a gift! ?????? Ok, so explain Lord. . . . . . Before you give them a piece of your mind, a good thrashing of words, or a mumbling under your breath or even hours of your heartfelt tears, you need to give them a gift simply because it's the way that I want you to react. Take the gift of mercy and tie it up with the most glorious bow of love that you can find and place it in their hands. Already you will have set the mood and the stage for the table of your trouble. It will be met with shock and surprise, maybe even taking them back a bit but it will give you more time at this point to set the rest of the table. In I Thessalonians 5:15 it says, "See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone". So, my table of troubles needs to be set with the tablecloth of love and dishes of goodness. It also says in Colossians 3:15 "and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body and be thankful". II Peter 3 says, ". . . . and count the patience of our Lord as salvation". Beside the dishes of goodness I should place utensils of peace along with serving spoons of thankfulness and then place glasses that will serve endless patience. If your table is set according to my Word the Lord instructed, then the meal that is served from this point on will be so very appetizing. It's all in the preparation of your heart you see. It's all about being ready and not still dressed in your pajamas when trouble comes knocking at your door. So, here we are! MY attitude is the one that has to reflect Christ no matter if I'm very falsely accused or if I'm very right! Doesn't seem "fair" does it? Sigh! But it's really not about fairness or unfairness it IS about right and wrong. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and sup with him and he with me".(Revelations 3) Also, " anyone who loves me will obey my teaching".(John 14) So, my takeaway is this, which just coincidently is my life scripture, (Prov 3: 5,6) " trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths". And when your troubles come knocking. . . . .well, you'll have your best dress and your pearls on and when you open the door that special guest of honor will walk in with your troubles and you will be ready! The meal will surely be delicious as well!

Saturday, May 27, 2017


While I was out walking one day I passed an older car that was obviously out of commission. It was propped up, suspended if you will, on two jacks and the entire front of the body was missing. Believe it or not that image spoke to me in so many ways that are difficult to explain but I will try. The very first thing that I saw was how very ugly it looked. It was old, had been abused and very worn down with the internal workings exposed and now very unable to do what it was made to do. 
This is the first thing that spoke to me. . . . . Our thought processes sometimes can keep us suspended, just like that car, unable to grow or even desiring an attempt to fix the things that are wrong in our lives. We hang there, exposed and suspended, remaining content to stay in the place where we are. As I looked at that old beaten up, worn down car being held up by two metal arms or jacks, it also reminded me of the beautiful responsibility that we have within the body of Christ to use our arms to hold one another up. It says in I Thessalonians 5:11 "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing". Now that is a beautiful image and responsibility to have. It's also absolutely necessary within the kingdom of God. There are times that we are weak and can't seem to stand on our own but God has placed people in our paths, brothers and sisters in the faith, that will hold your arms up and give you added strength to stand during those weak times. We also may see others within the body, possibly young overwhelmed mothers who need a day out but have no one to call on for childcare. Or you may see lonely and hurting people sitting quietly alone on Sunday mornings who may just need a friendly smile and word of encouragement or possibly someone to invite them for a Sunday afternoon lunch. Our arms need to reach out to them. There also may be elderly people who just need a ride to the grocery store or Dr's. office but don't go because they have no one to take them. Arms reaching down to weed the grounds of our house of worship or reach out to say "yes" I can help clean or vacuum or paint! I could go on and on but I'm sure you get the idea and see the great need. Our arms are supposed to look like Jesus' arms. You remember those arms. . . . . . Exposed and suspended for every one of us. This is how we are to be the church in the flesh. If we desire to be a mirror image of the Lord then should we not try and do what He did? This seems to me to be the very core of relationship. Jesus was and always will be our ultimate example. He was around his people, his disciples, all the time. They ate together, they walked great distances traveling together. It's maybe a little more difficult to envision but they probably bathed together in the rivers and streams along the way. They were there for one another, learning together, ministering together, praying together and in relationship learning from the master teacher and in turn teaching others as well later on. This is where it all happened. This is one of the models of the ground work that shaped relationship. We are like those disciples, all students that will ultimately become the teachers. We have to get this thing called relationship! Being Christ to others, his arms extended holding one another up doesn't end outside of the four walls of the places of worship. The kingdom of God is now, forever and always needing to be like outstretched arms of Christ. 

I do realize some of us have large families, busy work schedules, schooling and so on. What if your ministry went beyond the schedules and so on? What if your ministry went beyond the schedules you have set for yourself? What if the gift inside of you was meant to minister to someone and that put you a little out of your comfort zone? Would we still be willing to use our arms to hold others up when they're worn down and defeated? What if the "jacks" in our lives, the things that keep us suspended, were knocked out from under us? What areas of our lives would be exposed? Lots of questions I know but really. . . . . . . What would that look like?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Unimposing Glory

I have this mild obsession with trees! There, I've said it! Some may think it a bit strange or quirky but in many many ways they speak to me. For instance, one day as I
sat looking out at the beauty of nature my eyes kept wondering back and forth but there was a particular tree that in itself was rather plain and looked out of place but I was constantly drawn back to it and couldn't keep my eyes off of it try tho I did, because it certainly wasn't attractive. Sure, it was one of the largest trees in the area with boughs spreading as wide as they were high but still there was nothing else that stood out that would make me desire to look at it. But here I sat fixated on this particular tree. It made me wonder what, in it's unimposing life, had it been privy to. I began to imagine a woman sitting on the ground leaning on its trunk and resting under the shade of its boughs. She had an urn of some type held tightly in her grip and tears streamed down her cheeks. She was speaking words that I couldn't hear and as she spoke she lifted the lid of the urn and poured out ashes of some type onto the ground all around the tree. She replaced the lid on the urn, wiped her eyes and then she was gone. What was she doing I thought? Were they the ashes of someone who was dear to her? As quickly as my thoughts were flooded with questions I again saw a very young couple laughing and dancing around the base of the tree. A few moments later the young man swept the girl up into his arms and sweetly but lovingly kissed her. She blushed as he let her down and together they carved their initials into the trunk of the tree, preserving their love for a lifetime there. Again, questions came and they disappeared. I then saw a tire swing hanging from one of the lowest branches and children were swinging and laughing as they played beneath the limbs. I couldn't take my eyes off of them and it drew me back to my own childhood memories of carefree days when we played under trees out side until darkness began to fall. As quickly as the children had come, they were gone. What was it about this tree that evoked so many visions? In a flash I could see a storm coming with loud bursts of thunder and instantaneously the sound was followed by a burst of lightning. The lightning hit the tree and I heard a loud cracking sound. The light temporarily blinded my sight but in a moment the storm was gone. The tree however was left  with what looked like a huge gash across the middle of its trunk. A direct hit like that would have ordinarily taken any other tree out but this one still stood. What was it about this tree? It had seen sorrow, it had been touched by love, it had seen joy and now it had felt pain if trees could indeed feel pain. It was seemingly just an ordinary tree but in my thoughts and eyes it had seen and lived through every conceivable experience good and bad. How long must it have endured the elements? How many seasons had it seen? Who planted it there? So many questions. . . . . . . . And then. . . . . "For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground;he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,and no beauty that we should desire him." (Isaiah 53)  This wonderful, and unimposing tree had surely reminded me of my Savior. It's majesty wasn't in its appearance it was in its life and what it had been through. It held a Glory that my eyes or anyone's eyes couldn't necessarily see but it's life spoke of anything but the ordinary. It's life had given so much to so many. Even scarred and marred by pain and suffering it's life resounded with joy and laughter. My eyes couldn't turn away from this plain, ordinary and unimposing tree because it was meant to stand as a reminder for me that day of an ordinary life that brought extraordinary love. Yes, I do indeed have this mild obsession with trees but in the case of this one tree, I'm particularly unapologetic about my obsession. You're welcome!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Seeing Glory In The Cracks

The sun is up and in its place after a night which brought to us a long soaking rain. I love hearing rain on the roof and knowing that it's Gods way of taking care of his garden. Lately, there has been such a hot and dry season and the rain brings much needed refreshing. When I walked out on the deck this morning to enjoy my morning coffee I noticed that a typically mischievous morning glory had poked it's head up through the crack of the deck boards. Usually this would have annoyed me but as I sat there looking at it I found it to be quite beautiful and of course the reason I am inspired in this writing. You see, we all have cracks that open up in our lives from time to time and to me they are not usually anything that you would desire but they still happen. They generally look like troubles or sadness or fatigue/exhaustion and nobody likes those things. But when the cracks come, what do you do? The usual response is an unwelcome one but I do have to admit that lately my vision of them or at least my response to cracks has changed. Cracks always remind me of a weakness; a crack in the foundation of a house or a crack in the driveway tells me that there is something going on underneath that needs attention and suring up. Cracks remind us that weak areas will get exposed and we need to be motivated to repair them so that more damage does not happen. Cracks aren't welcomed but maybe they happen so that things can be restored to the healthier state of being. If cracks look like depression, an argument with someone you love or even a death of someone you care for deeply, I'm here to tell you that you need to cry out to the only one who can give you what you need to overcome your adversity; to repair your crack. Psalm 3:4 says, "I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and He heard me out of his holy hill". God will respond to the cries of his children when they suffer! He hears us when we cry out to Him. Cracks may bring us to our knees and that's a good place to be believe it or not. Cracks or "the trying of your faith", work for your good if you can see it that way. We pray those trials of our faith, as Peter says, "might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ". They can help to purify us and to develop in us the very nature and likeness of Christ. So, if you are looking at a crack in your life today, count it all joy if you will and know that the God in heaven who loves you is indeed working all things for your good. And "that you may be (made) perfect and entire, wanting nothing". Watch and see if the glory of God won't poke it's head through your adversity (crack) and make you smile again! 

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Remains Of My Days

Many times I have found myself looking at an old photo of myself in the very prime of my life at age 16. Those were indeed days when I felt the best about myself. My weight had not skyrocketed, my hair was long and healthy and of course the wrinkles that now define my face were simply non-existent. That picture hangs on my fridge with many other friends and family loved ones. I see it every day and I have to admit that most of the time it draws me back to 1970 and I sharply feel the sting of those days gone by and what "isnt" anymore. You know it is impossible to return to those times and feelings and dwelling on them most of the time only brings anguish and a sense of loss. My journey has brought me a very long way from that place and there have been many many wonderful moments and memories made since then that would be worth lingering on however, lingering is the key word here. To linger means " to stay, remain, persist, endure or spend a long time over something. Having memories, good or bad is one thing, but lingering on them is quite another. It's not a place that is good for us to stay too long because we can easily get caught up in " what once was" or "what could have been" and that luggage is too heavy for us to carry around. All of us could most likely say that we have enough on our plates on a day to day basis that would keep our minds and bodies racing. Our lives are usually filled with a multitude of thoughts, choices and decisions to be made on a regular basis and there is simply no time to linger over what once was, at least not stay in that lingering state too long. Choices to keep drifting backwards in our minds will only hinder our journey. Two steps forward, one step back. . . . Can't make much progress that way. It doesn't simply slow us down in our daily walk it also hinders our mental capacity to work through our problems and issues. If we are always hauling around thoughts and memories and regrets of what could have been it greatly hampers what could be on the path of today's destination. I for one profess to be a new creation in Christ, old things have passed away and all things have become new. It is a new path that I am on. I have a very new destination and my luggage or old wardrobe will not work at all for where He is taking me now. I now am packing so light these days that I'm down to one bag of necessary items and here's the best part of all. . . . . . He even carries THAT bag for me! it says in Matthew 16:24 Jesus said,  "if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it". We must lay down those old burdens, those old pieces of luggage that weighed us down. It is very selfish and self indulgent to want to hold onto the old things that we thought made us feel complete or we cherished more than we cherished Christ. Those things were who we were, who we used to be. To hold onto them says that what Christ did on the cross for us was not enough, it says " I need Christ but I need these things too!" You can't have both! He is either all we need or his sacrifice of love means nothing. It is not the Fathers desire for us to carry anything. His son carried it all! In Gods word we are promised healing and restoration and through salvation our journeys' luggage has been loaded on the back of our Savior and he deposited it into the Sea of Forgetfulness. We are new creations and are now no longer required to carry the remains of who we once were. So, today I walked past my old photo on the fridge, smiled and thanked the Lord for giving me good days and thanked him as well for the better days that are coming. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Reflection Of A Robin

There are many things in this life that simply "catch my attention" on a day to day basis. Hardly a day goes by that something doesn't happen that causes me to pause and think about how much meaning there is in that moment. Today as I was standing looking out of my kitchen window a robin was hopping around the yard and I noticed that he kept hopping up and down on and off of the running board of my truck parked in the driveway. He was captured by his own reflection, it seemed, from the chrome plate on the side of my truck. He sat and watched the other bird in the reflection and seemed comforted to just be there beside it. At first a fleeting thought came of how vain that little fellow was that he had to sit and look at himself so long but upon further observation I don't think it was a case of vanity at all. I noticed that he still had the look of a very young bird who was possibly not long out of the nest. He sat on that running board and was simply comforted by the other bird being next to him. Well, I thought, that's just what he had in the nest as he was growing up. He was surrounded by a nest of siblings that were close to him doing the same thing he was, just doing life and growing, being fed and existing. The next thing he knew he was thrust into a world all on his own out of that place of relationship and comfort and here he was now sitting on my running board finding some comfort once more in the company of another who looked very much like him. That's the way it is in a robins' world.
     Well, that's the way it is in our world too I'm here to tell you. We were created for relationship. It brings us what we need in this life, each other. We were never meant to be alone. That companionship of others was ordained by God himself. It's the thing that makes us thrive! Haven't you ever noticed that when people are alone and shut off from others that it sometimes opens a wide door of loneliness and depression and purely a feeling of darkness. That's because we were never meant to be alone. When God created this world and saw that "it was good" and then created Adam, He also realized at that point that something was not good. So, He fixed it and did something really good and He created
Eve. A thought that came to me was that 'being alone is not a good thing for anyone', God made us in His image and that makes us relational beings. All of the loneliness and depression and anxiety and fear and darkness came into being in that perfect garden when sin entered in through Eves choice. She began to believe that to live for herself and her own gain was more important than living to love God and Adam. The other bad choice was made by Adam when he chose to join her. Here's the lesson I believe. . . . Living for what's "best for me" while ignoring everyone else and closing yourself off will always bring alienation and aloneness. We must choose to be with others, around others and most importantly in relationship with others doing life, growing and being fed just like that little robin. We cannot be content by being alone and shut off. Our reflections will NEVER be an answer to true relationship or companionship. We also have to go further and reach out to others that are around us. There is a term that is so full of truth and most often you may hear it from someone who is suffering with loneliness. It says ' I can feel so alone even in a crowded room'. That is so true and I'm here to tell you that happens all the time with people who are feeling the sting of loneliness. The answer lies in the reaching out to others. You can have acquaintances and not have relationship. Relationship is deeper, deeper than the robins reflection in the chrome. It is an actual "intimacy" with another person. Not in a husband/wife intimate way but in a way that you get to know the very deepest things about another person that goes beyond just recognizing their face and knowing their name. It's requires more of us, more of them and time invested. It's a VERY NECESSARY thing to have for us to thrive the way God intended us to thrive. 
     So, two hours later, my little robin is still hopping up and down on the running board trying to figure out why his companion isn't very hospitable. I wonder how long it will take him to figure out  that his new acquaintance is just him! I think I'll move my truck and allow him to find some real friends. 😊