Warm Wednesday Words: Friendship: A Divine Work

our hearts - old friendsFriends warm hearts, evoke smiles, and build up souls.  I’ve recently enjoyed some particularly warm words and sweet times with friends.  It feels like an emotional sun bath after a spell of rainy weather.  Though there may be many in the bigger tent of acquaintance type friendships, I am referring to sweet and personal friendship; i.e. the kind that endears and fills the “love tank”.  At the inception of friendship is some kind of commonality, random though it may be, and the time it takes to discover it.

you too Then when two or more hearts make this discovery, words are spoken that settle into a heart, find their place, and no matter what fractures may come, the healthy heart will hold onto the good, and ascribe the most positive motives possible to friendship blunders.

friendships imprintedWhen the blunders occur, and they will in all of us called human, there may be a time to question or confront.  As with any other conversation between friends, it is personal, and a preference of private, rather then public should be assumed.

iron sharpens ironHumility, smiles, hugs, (and maybe even chocolate and coffee) are great accompaniments to any such planned conversation, or a good idea for a follow up, which is an important cusp to transition from possible tension to sweet rejuvenation.

sweet perfumeThis gregarious and humble camaraderie deepens the roots of a friendship, and harmony and amicability are all but pulsing in each tete-a-tete.  Both heartaches and victories are shared with lavish empathy.  Here we feel freedom to breath, to speak, to be oneself just as we have in our friendship with our Lord, Jesus.  (Acts 17:28) Here, pretext melts and love, empathy, and yes, definitely laughter reign and are freely reciprocated.

Winnie the Pooh Friends The old saying holds some truth, “Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other gold.”   And, “When we do the hard intimate work of friendship, we bring a little more of the divine into daily life.”  Do you have friends with whom you feel safely tucked in love and forbearance?  Can you laugh at yourselves as well as weather a rebuke?  If so, treasure these friends as a divine gift.  The hard work of friendship has a divine calling on it straight from the scriptures.  Are you willing?

Warm Wednesday Words: Christmas Letter: Still Alive…Still Trusting

christmas letter templateUnless you count this as one, we won’t be writing a Christmas letter this year.  Come to think of it, it’s been a number of years since I sent a Christmas letter.  But if we did you might be hanging onto your seat.   Then again, in the off paragraphs you might be snoring.  But ultimately what I would want you to know is this:  Even in the hard years, God is good and does exceedingly above all that we ask or think. (Eph. 3:20)  He is to be praised.

Imagine getting a Christmas letter saying that in a fit of jealous rage one of two sons had killed the other, and in another family letter came the news that the husband had risked his wife’s sexual exploitation for his own hide; then a few years later the same wife had gotten so jealous of a relationship that she, herself, had put into place, that she had sent the destitute progeny away forever.  What if your friends wrote you that one child had tricked the near blind, dying father into changing his will.  Now here’s some Christmas letter news: the dad had suffered some devastating consequences in his life for a rooftop peeping tom escapade, and later there were some problems in the blending of the half siblings.  One had raped his half sister and in revenge another had murdered the rapist.  And then later the disowned teen murderer  used his charisma and become popular and powerful enough to try to destroy his father.

Likely responses to such tabloid-like stories from God-fearing families might be shock, gossip and judgement.  The latter springs from our insatiable desire to measure someone’s tragedy against our own life and surmise how that could never happen to us. Thoughts, if not words, might be…”if the parents had just had them in church every Sunday” to “if they had not chosen that school” to “if they had not been so strict”, or “if they had not been so lenient”, or “if they had just went to marriage counseling” and on and on.  We believe in grace, but it often shadows our prideful logic.  The disciples tried to lay blame as well, but received this response…”Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3) The works of God in a life are really so much more refreshing to focus on!  If we could just quickly shift our thoughts to how God may use circumstances, as well as start praying we’d become a part of the miracle of grace, redemption and restoration.

In the above scenarios, God dealt with sin, but saw the heart, (yes, especially the parts that bore His likeness) which is why He could call the fearful husband the father of many nations, the jealous wife a woman to be emulated by all women in regard to respect for her husband, the #1 loser dad a man after God’s own heart in regard to his worshipful and compassionate heart, etc.

Unfortunately, God’s grace and redemption are sometimes not as convincing in humans, and on occasion even purposely omitted, leaving many of us trudging uphill through the storms of life with social apathy (not to be confused with spiritual apathy) as our trail guide.  A friend of ours and midwife for two of our childbirths years ago, blogged recently on  Christmas letters.  “The fact of the matter is, any time any of us have a bad year, we aren’t as likely to send out Christmas cards or a Christmas letter.  If we’ve experienced a death in the family, struggled financially, had medical issues, serious kid problems, emotional trauma, a divorce, church drama, or just a year where everything seemed to go wrong, we don’t really feel like sharing.  Those things don’t go as well in the end of year brag letter as do educational accomplishments, travel, promotions and awards.”  You’ll likely be blessed and entertained if you take time to read her entire post @ the above link.  You might even change the way you write next year’s Christmas card or letter.

But meantime, if you didn’t hear much from us, neither did most.  Like Roxanne and many of you, we’re still here, still alive, still trusting, hoping, and finding healing in the time out.

 

 

 

Warm Wednesday Words: The Healer on the Journey

Lately I’m latching on to my healer a little tighter, and He has me securely in His Hand and under His wing on this lap of my journey, as always.  There is an incredible peace that is present in a relationship with a Heavenly Father who knows and loves me.  “He wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.”  Job 5:17-18 (NIV)   Whether we suffer physically or emotionally, in our weakness, He is made strong.  When I’m misunderstood or misunderstand someone else, I can still trust Him… “Hallelujah!… for true and righteous are his judgments.” Rev 19:1-2 (NIV)  I “remember there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1), and I’m patient with myself because God is completing the work in me that He began and has a few prayer warriors praying for me prolifically with joy and the affection of Christ Jesus  and who value my particular contribution to the gospel.  Thus I can grow in wisdom and discernment and overflow with the same kinds of prayers for others partnering in the gospel.

encouragementIn Ps. 3:3, David, who experienced a wide gamut of “good” and “bad” from the Lord,  recorded that feeling of being protected by God, “But You, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts up my head.” (Ps. 3:3)  Zephaniah also spoke, not only of the knowing of a mighty Savior, but of a tender and personal love; i.e. the kind of love that warms a heart and prompts goodwill.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  (Zeph. 3:17)

As long as I remember whose offspring I am, and receive whatever He has in His hand for me with the grace and truth He has lavished on me, then I can live and move and exist freely and fully loved in Him.

Are you under His wing in your journey?  It’s a “safe” place to be.  Have you a few prayer warriors who value you?  Are you that for at least a few others?

Warm Wednesday Words: The Heart of the Matter

the heart of the matter

I am so thankful Jesus gets to the heart of every matter.  When I let His Words be driven deep into my heart, the burden will be personal and, in the end light, as I respond to Him in obedience.   (Matt. 11:30)   When I keep my eyes focused on Him, and my heart tuned to His, then I am eager to carry out His mission, which is tailored for me and also interested to hear the unique mission He has given you.  We then can celebrate His glory in unison, even if He displayed it quite differently in each of us.

don't waste a minute comparingThe Pharisees of Jesus day were forever trying to appear one up on their Jewish counterparts and even on Jesus.  Even the disciples fell into the temptation to one up their performance above others on occasion.  Jesus told them the folks they were concerned about would surely be changed by His own powerful name, which they were proclaiming.  He went around their argument to the heart of the matter.  He made it clear that His divine Words to the heart of each matter were superior to anything they had ever heard before.

come to meTo really allow God to get to my heart is a far different matter then tritely saying He does, and He certainly knows the difference.  To allow His Holy Spirit to soften my heart means allowing His hands, in effect, to take a hardened portion and squeeze it back to mold-ability and usefulness.  It may mean  a layer is pulled back to expose something starkly in need of correction.  It means I will be willing to accept His challenge to do more for Him.  It means I will be thinking on what He is trying to say to me, and praying for further revelation.  It means I will be open to wise counsel that embraces God’s creativity in accomplishing His purposes in myriads of ways, and that I will not feel peer pressure to compare with anyone else, nor impatience to run ahead of Him.  Peer pressure can be a good thing, if it wakes us up to what we’re to be doing and inspires us to get on with it, while giving us support.  Yet, as long as we are truly seeking God’s will and striving to perform it and support others as they do they same in whatever way they are inspired, there really is something to the strange saying, “There’s more then one way to skin a cat.”

responding to God's challengesResponding to God’s heart work means I will be putting into practice His mission in me that “fits” with my unique circumstances that I am in, unless He sees fit to change them.  When God gets to the heart of my matters, it changes me.  I am restless to hear more from Him.  What about you?  How does it change you when He softens an area of your heart?  Do you find it hard to press in to His will that is tailor made for you?  Do you feel the excitement of His personal revelation to you?  Is waiting for further direction hard for you, as it is for me?

Warm Wednesday Words: For the Love of Naps!

nice long napI love a good nap.  There are several kinds of naps, beginning at a few seconds, a couple minutes, twenty minutes, and my favorite…the lazy nap, which is nearly an hour or more.  The lazy nap is the only one that gets one into the REM sleep, which is the most purifying and restorative sleep.   If I can’t make it to the REM stage before household noise prevails, then I easily wake and am frustrated and groggy; not refreshed and energized!   My children can attest to my attempts at naps when they were young and I desperately needed a little extra shut eye.  They remember well the verbal threats of near “torture” if they could not be quiet for one measly hour.  On such occasions their giggles and sometimes mini wars usually began about the time I would lay down and the noise would increase at a steady crescendo until I would give up and perhaps try coffee instead.

going to bedI admire the folks able to micro nap and hope to acquire that skill someday.  It could really come in handy for those days when just a few seconds of stolen sleep could make all the difference.  My dad was well known for taking all sorts of naps in all sorts of places, even occasionally public places!

But meantime, I’m resigned to try to speed up the onslaught of REM sleep sooner then average when attempting to engage in a “legal” nap in my own noisy home.  My favorite day of the week for this luxury is Sunday, usually no sooner then 2:30 p.m., since we often have casual lunch company after church.  Then, with dishes cleaned up, and everyone about their own hobby or nap, off I go to a cozy pile of pillows on a bed with one special pillow to cover my head and muffle noises.  Sunday afternoon naps and quiet times date back to my childhood, where we often read books, snacked on bananas or cookies and sometimes fell asleep, even before the age of real nap appreciation had set in.

busy doing SundayOther nap deterrents is accidentally ending up with our cat or one or both of the Bostons in the room with me.  These furry companions can be quite cozy when they want to be, but they have many clever ways of ruining a perfect nap for me.   First their route to the doggy door, which is in the master bedroom, becomes like a rush hour thoroughfare, with the Bostons suddenly needing to bark to protect me from every bird tweet or leaf blowing.  When they feel they’ve got all the scarey things outside the french doors under control they scratch on the side of the bed to be lifted back up (never mind that if they wanted to they could jump it easily).  I reluctantly lift them up, and they turn circles and finally settle down just upwind of my nose.  At this point, they begin to relax and so does their intestinal stress!

boston noseAt some point during the Boston fiasco, the geriatric cat has decided she needs to scratch her head on the pillow that I have over my own head.  This is not a gentle scratch.  I think she believes she has antlers that need the velvet removed and my pillow is the perfect tree.  After I shove her away, she instead decides she would like to sleep on my arm and quite determinedly settles down to nap nose-to-one inch from my nose with whiskers supplying the final ticklish touch.

catThis is usually about the time that the phone rings and if I forgot to bring it back with me to the bedroom, I practice my 50 yard dash from the tangled zoo on my bed, open the door, dash around the corner to the end table at the far end of the couch where usually sit one or more oblivious teenagers engrossed in their laptops or other gizmos.

IMG_6593Coming from the recliner at the other end of the living room sounds like the rhythmic noise of a freight train, but is actually the snores of my husband, who is deep in REM.  Meantime the Bostons have followed me out and cozy up on the recliner with him.

IMG_5080I make a beeline back to the bedroom shutting myself in without one live, breathing creature other then myself.   Ahh…zzzz

a girl and her bed on SundaysFinally, in no time, I sink into a deep sleep.  I hear tell there is often the sound of a second freight train, but I don’t believe it.  Sometime later I wake up.  Is it minutes, hours or days?  Where am I?  What am I supposed to be doing?  What day is this?  I momentarily think Rip Van Winkle has nothing on me.  I look out the french doors and let my brain cells gather data for a few seconds.  I’m still not sure about anything, but head out to see the clock and the coffee pot.  Now that, at last, is a perfect Sunday nap!  According to Wikipedia, “Napping was found to be both physiologically and psychologically beneficial. Napping for 20 minutes can help refresh the mind, improve overall alertness, boost mood and increase productivity. Napping may benefit the heart. In a six-year study of Greek adults, researchers found that men who took naps at least three times a week had a 37 percent lower risk of heart-related death.”  What is your best method of rest and rejuvenation?  Have you nailed down a regular method?  Did you know March 10 is National Napping Day?