Warm Wednesday Words: Gap Standers

a word aptly spokenI can remember many special words of encouragement in my life, the people who spoke them, and often even the settings they were spoken in.  Unfortunately, I can also remember words that tore me down. Sometimes the latter were spoken without awareness that I overheard or heard secondhand.  Some left scars and redirected my focus and friendships.  Thankfully the words of encouragement have effected me most.  I am always energized by the knowledge that someone believes in me.  Encouragement is “the wind beneath my wings”.  Encouragers really are heroes, and have a knack at finding the encouragement that belongs with constructive criticism, and they also possess patience, humility, and a desire to listen.

you are the wind beneath my wingsThough I know enough about planes and flying to fill the saddlebags of a flea, I believe that as air currents supply lift to somehow supplement the flight of a plane, so words of encouragement lift us up to do that which God has put in our hearts to do.  Without encouragement, much creativity and revelation sits on the ground waiting for the needed lift, or nosedives shortly after takeoff.  Among  definitions for the word “lift” in the “Free Dictionary” is, “To yield to upward pressure.”  Applying this definition to encouragement, it’s a pleasurable yield and pressure, indeed.

Christopher Crisp, a guest columnist for “The Dispatch” wrote on encouragement in the April 12, 2007 issue.  “I remember sweet people – the people who were non-judgmental.  These ‘sweet people’ have a spirit about them that is infectious to all they come in contact with.  These people put their strength at our disposal.”  They are the “gap standers” in our lives, and demonstrate how we’re to be the same to others.   Since our own burdens are lightened when we bother to encourage others, we miss out when we choose to neglect the ministry of encouragement, or worse, engage in discouragement.  Crisp goes on to say, “There are many ways we can encourage others; a card, hug, handshake, a quiet visit just to listen or just a sincere compliment.”  To a discerning person in need of true encouragement, the detection of fakery, flattery and attention getting scenarios is usually on high alert and they are not taken in by them.

stand in the gap for othersSometimes we just have to find encouragement with our God, whether or not anyone else encourages us.  When disaster struck David and his men by the burning of Ziklag and the heart wrenching scandal of their women having been taken captive, everyone was distraught and blamed David, who was also grief stricken.  “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”

fight aloneEncouragement can definitely be found all alone with our God even if it seems everyone around us is against us, or neglectful, though hopefully that doesn’t happen often. “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.”  (2 Tim. 4:17)

God is fighting for youOur ultimate “Gap Stander” is Christ who is constantly interceding for us, fighting for us, pushing back the darkness, and most amazingly, gave up His life for us so that we could be a joint heir with him and spend eternity with the Father.

Warm Wednesday Words: The Repose of a Rose

11400995_10205619300614671_8431724544511363409_nThere’s lettuce in the garden rows
and herbs in tubs galore.
The raised bed has varied tomatoes
and peppers to chop, freeze and store.

IMG_9816Spikes, celosia, silver dust, and lobelia crowd in planters.
A kaleidoscope of perennials vies for the flower bed.
Pots of dichondra, australis, zinnias, and dragons head
tangle with caladiums, elephant ear and other enchanters.

IMG_9812

IMG_9809But none of those garden wonders
nourish the soul quite like the rose.
When darkness depresses and plunders
the rose gives the spirit repose.

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Like a scented lady dressed in draping folds
the rose wafts her fragrance over the end of the day.
To weariness and discouragement she scolds
and sweetly kisses the stresses away.

11392892_10205618929005381_8445332622084089136_n

11425131_10205612778571624_4036724106705985532_nHer essence is felt in the garden.
Her briers remind us of strength.
Her petals carpet and pardon
and tranquility seeps in at length.

IMG_9810Some favorite rose quotes

“The rose speaks of love silently, in a language known only to the heart.” (Unknown)

“Won’t you come into my garden?  I would like my roses to see you.”  Richard Brinsley Sheridan

“The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.”  George William Curtis

“I’d rather have roses on my table then diamonds on my neck.”  Emma Goldman

“God gave us memories so that we might have roses in December.”  J. M. Barrie

Take time to smell the roses.  (Proverb)

“I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses; and the voice I hear, falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.”  (Hymn)

Warm Wednesday Words: Despising the Shame

scandalDictionary.com – *Shame – 1. The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.  4. A fact or circumstance bringing disgrace or regret.

*Shame  launches us into a sort of sacred suffering that gives us tools, otherwise illusive, that can actually save us.  It can originate in our own conscience, or it can be “assigned” to us by others who are more then willing to serve it up and offer seconds.  Constructively, it can provoke remorse and change, or when felt on behalf of others, comfort, grace and prayer.  Yet it also can circle over our heads with landing gear down, powerless to make its mark, if we aren’t willing to humbly inspect our hearts.

Jesus was no stranger to shame.  He didn’t turn from it, but conquered the sting of it for the joy that came from making a way to save us.  Hebrews 12:2, “Who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame…”  Shame can be a stalker and a haunter, especially if we’re prideful, but when we follow Jesus example and despise it, we shrink it to its rightful place and role and amazing things can happen.

When I worked at a local daycare, we often sang action songs including a favorite “We’re going on a Bear Hunt”.  Within the lyrics, there is a great message, “we’re coming to a wide river, and there’s no bridge going over it, no tunnel going under it, it’s just plain old water, and we’re gonna have to swim…I’m not afraid.  Are you?”

We’re often put in circumstances just like that.  There’s no way around, under, or over.  We just gotta go through and get thicker skin while the elements pelt us.  The ultimate example is Christ on the cross.  John Piper wrote an excellent post on what it means to despise the shame.  He concluded Jesus “despising the shame” was like saying, ‘Listen to me, Shame, do you see that joy in front of me?  Compared to that, you are less then nothing…You think you have power.  Compared to the joy before me, you have none…. You think you can distract me.  I won’t even look at you….You are a fool.  Your filthy hands fulfill holy prophecy.’  There was once a man who over the course of his lifetime had experienced devastating parenting failures with dire consequences, committed adultery, and set up a murder to cover his own mistake.  Yet because he loved God and repented of his sins, he was able to say, “Those who look to Him are radiant with joy.  Their faces will never be ashamed.”  (Ps. 34:10)  If you guessed David, you’re right.  I love reading the Psalms, and am thankful he despised the shame and told his story.

So yeah, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, and so can you.  That includes the boldness to be honest and humble for Christ’s sake, no pun intended.  Some would rather avoid the power tools that can be earned in trials and shame, then admit anything shameful touched them or their families.  Ann Voskamp said in a recent post “the worst grief is a grief that cannot speak…..Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.”  The Bible is rife with examples of the type of guarantee that things are going to get tough, and that there’s no way around but through.   There are no guarantees of turbulent free friendships, marriages, parenting, businesses, health, reputations, etc; only of a Savior who will walk beside us triumphantly through the turbulence and “keep” that which we’ve committed to Him, ultimately souls.  He may allow some deep plunges, shame, grief, or heartache in order to refine and use what is of high value to Him.

For us, the hope and promise is that we have a Savior who showed us how to despise the shame and find joy.   Have the filthy hands of shame and despair propelled you toward a destiny?  Are you willing to share what might be useful to encourage someone?

Despise the Shame

*For the purpose of this post I chose not to split hairs over shame vs. guilt.

Warm Wednesday Words: Acres of Hope

IMG_9703As another Mother’s Day approaches I am leaning into hope and steering clear of man’s conclusions as I prod through my valleys.  I  refuse to compare myself to Mother Theresa, Susanna Wesley, Michelle Dugger, nor any young and idealistic mother full of preconceived notions about life and parenting, though I’m happy for all of them.  But for myself, I’m madly in love with my kids and grandkids no matter what.  Every single one.   The sweetest celebration of my motherhood is not on any one particular day, or in reveling in any one of my children’s successes, though I do that.  It is in the thoughtfulness of each one of them throughout the year.  And then another year and another and another.  It is in cards, calls, visits, and laughter.  For the ones with children (my sweet grands), it is in the effort they put into guiding the grandkids to gift us with sweet indulgences of artwork, notes, hugs and chats.  For seasons when there has been too much gap between visits or too much silence in the conversation, (on either end) it is in the celebration of a God who mends and heals in our lack, our uncertainty, and yes, even in our sin.

If I have ever doubted the lavishness of my God, and I don’t generally, I have only to feast my eyes on an azalea bush in May to settle the matter.

IMG_9723For my friends who have yearned to have children, but could not, I am sorry.  Truly sorry.  My heart aches for you.  I am also sorry for those who have loved and held a child who passed away.  There are no words to say I understand, because I don’t and can’t.  Your hope for reunion is literally an eternity away.  Then there are heart holes for those who have had to give up a child, parent a child without the parenthood “title” or for those of us who have miscarried without ever holding that child.  As Ann Voskamp said in a recent post, “Grief is the guaranteed price we pay for love.”  She went on to explain that God is the ultimate grief converter because He promises to invade our grief with joy and pour lavish comfort on us in our circumstances.

IMG_9735I hope that God fills your heart with hope in abundance this Mother’s Day…hope that you know how much love God has for you.  If you are a believer in Christ as your Savior who died for you, that makes you a daughter of the King, and a joint heir with Christ.  In other words, you are royalty!    Since God has all the traits that were divided in Adam when He created Eve, He longs to love us and our children with a motherly type love, as well as a fatherly love, and of course, His agape love (which is not based on feelings).  “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” from Luke 13:34.

This Mother’s Day I once again am thankful that God indulgently  allows us to be a miracle in the middle of our circumstances.   Our compass is always pointed to hope, as is beautifully expressed in a song about Christ and the church, “And though you’re in the dark here call me friend…not safe but worth it, so worth it…As you lead us away to valleys low, to acres of hope, acres of hope.”

Do you realize the miracle that He has allowed you to be and the acres of hope that He is leading you in from your “unsafe” valley?

Warm Wednesday Words: Perspective Rescued and Reframed

IMG_9722EditedBecause I believe in God’s sovereignty,  my perspective is constantly being rescued and reframed.  For years I have been closely effected by a roller coaster ride of heartaches due to the addictions and bad choices of a sweet adult child along with turbulence in some of the relationships he became entwined with.  Mixed in with the fun times we all have shared, there have been times that waves of despair have crashed in on our family.  Through it all I believe that God is rescuing and keeping those I have committed to Him, and in fact, our entire family.  (“…and that is why I have suffered these things.  But I am not ashamed because I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.”  2 Tim. 1:12) As Carol Kent points out so well in her book, “When I Lay My Isaac Down”, the entire family suffers when a family member is arrested; i.e. not just with the shock and heartache, but with a taste of the ill treatment that is often dished out liberally to the incarcerated.  From exorbitant phone call charges, visitation lines, changing rules, searches, lies, rudeness, scapegoats, assumption of guilt, etc., we have learned more then we ever wanted to about our system.   As Joseph said to his brothers after his long set of trials at their hands, “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result…”  (Gen. 37-45) Seeing things from God’s perspective caused him to be able to forgive his brothers for the evil scheme they had carried out.  It’s not always an easy thing to keep my eyes focused on God’s perspective, but when I do I see clearly His love and mercy even within difficulties.  Then there are the unexpected moments of God’s grace in the hard places, such as when a friend picks up the corner of our stretcher by encouraging words, cards, prayers, hugs (both virtual and real) or sacrificial actions.  There have been some who have sought us out just to help us stand strong in a hard place; as well as those who have essentially left us alone in it.

IMG_9719That thing that I would most like to erase from my circumstances is often the very thing God will get the most mileage from in His molding makeover plans.  This is something not understood by those who have not put their trust in God.  The lure of success, popularity, and power along with the slippery slope of pride can be too strong to welcome or see the need for a trial to sharpen spiritual perspective and increase trust.   Yet the most humbling things that I would choose to avoid, He uses for His glory and my good.

IMG_9707EditedLast fall I planted bulbs, which, like cocoons and butterflies, wombs and babies, and so many other design marvels, illustrate the amazing skill of a Master Weaver to use the dark and hidden places to yield something no less then splendid.  His transforming powers are not at all affected by my ideas of where they should occur, whether behind prison walls built by men or those constructed within hearts encased in a fine exterior in denial of the slavery within.  Meantime, true heart freedom is being forged in the hard places not the easy ones.

IMG_9706The beauty of flowers and spring is like a visual banner shouting God’s handiwork that was done in the hard and hidden places.  I am thankful for following through with the instinctive nudging to plant more bulbs last fall in addition to other landscape specimens already here. Beginning with helleborus, Magnolia Jane and white forsythia defying winter in the midst of freezing temps, the floral processional has begun.  Moving on from  hyacinths, viburnums and daisies to tulips, flowering almonds, spireas, Japanese Maple, lilacs, azaleas, and the unfurling of peonies, I’m feasting on an array of visionary and olfactory reminders of God’s creativity, faithfulness and love.

IMG_9708If the kaleidoscope of colors doesn’t settle the matter, there is the intoxicating aroma of hyacinths, Korean Spice Viburnum and lilacs to further prove He does exceedingly above all that we ask or think.  In “Eyes Wide Open:  Enjoying God in Everything”, author Steve DeWitt says, ‘…every created beauty was created by God to lead our affections to Him.  That’s why He made the pleasures of earthly beauty so fleeting – so that on the other side of the pleasure we might experience either wonder and worship and ultimate satisfaction in God or the pursuit of the pleasure that beauty provides for its own sake.  If we choose the latter, we will only be disappointed again.’

IMG_9701As one wave of blooms fades and another comes on, there is a rhythmic reminder that, like the blooms that come and go, my life, too is a vapor to be poured out in whatever channel He desires.  My response to the course He chose for me is sweet surrender, and yes, even gratefulness.  Since nothing happens to me outside of His permission, He must have confidence that I will  display His glory even in arid places.  Perhaps He has handpicked you for a hard place as well.

IMG_9718A sweet friend encouraged me after a recent turning point in my family’s heartbreaking saga of the loss of a family member to incarceration, “Now you have the framework for the future.”  Her words were comforting and also reminded me that I’ve always had the framework for the future from the time I turned my life over to Christ at age nine.  Through ups and downs, valleys and “mountaintops”, seasons of drought and seasons of showers, God has always been there and been my Savior and my friend.  The gardens have not failed to rescue and reframe my perspective!

IMG_9693How about you?  What hard place are you in right now and how is God reframing your perspective through it?

Warm Wednesday Words: Margin for the Other Side Journey

BeFunky_IMG_20150315_081054430.jpgThe pendulum has swung wide for me recently on life events, and there have been moments in the stormy times, I’ve lost sight of the other side.  Because stresses and griefs tug at the heart even through the elation of miracles, I’ve had a time of it.  Yet the recent warmth of personal kindnesses and encounters threatens to thaw the icy numbness that settles and resettles in my arms.

I will highlight a few, but not all, of the weekend warmths God sent my way.  On Saturday, a friend and marathon runner committed one of her many miles she runs to praying for our family.  She says she likes to pick a friend and devote a mile to them in prayer.  I’m humbled, honored. and grateful.

Sunday I received a “random” message from an out of state friend who I have not been in touch with for months.   Among many other encouraging words, she said, ‘I am praying that the Lord carry you through the storms and calm the waves. May you always remember that the Lord is in the boat with you and that because He is, you will make it to the other side. When the Lord went into the boat with the disciples, he said to them “let us go to the other side“.  There was no doubt that they would make it to the other side.even in the storm…even though they were afraid when the storm came…because Jesus was with them and He knew they would make it, it was not yet His time. It is hard to Trust in the storms that shake us, but Jesus says “Do not be afraid, Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth….” ‘ 

Again on Sunday (after church and a deeply satisfying nap) I did some catching up in the “Breathe” Bible study (by Priscilla Shirer) that I am in, on making room for the Sabbath, boundaries, etc.  After discussing boundaries and margin, Shirer quotes Brad Lomenick, respected innovator and leader of the Catalyst Movement in America as saying several things about the powerful concept of ‘margin’ in several areas of life, including this quote, “Margin in our friendships creates significance and impact.”

If there’s anything new I’ve concluded about friendships over the past year or so, it’s that in my own strength, I might be able to encourage and pass along the love of Christ to someone on occasion, but any consistency is lost on me without some margin in my  life for such efforts.  To have margin requires that I set boundaries.  To set wise boundaries necessitates time in prayer to be sensitive to what parameters I need in order to keep the proper things in their place, and to be guided to friendship as the Lord would lead.

Hebrews 4 says “for the person who has entered  his rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His.  Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience.”  Entering into a “rest”, or a cessation of normal activity, and especially to focus on God, counters the physical world and is the beginning of true freedom and blessing.

Oswald Chambers says, “are these things crushing us? Are they badgering us out of the presence of God and leaving us no time for worship? Then let us call a halt, and get into such living relationship with God that our relationship to others may be maintained on the line of intercession whereby God works His marvels.”

Today, I was blessed with a friend who I haven’t seen for weeks coming by my place of work just for a quick hug.  And then blessed again with a good ole chat with my mom, who I will never stop needing.  I’m touched in those moments and more recently by many around me who get off the merry go round of their normal activities and in effect, say, ‘Let’s go to the other side.  I’m with you.  And, oh, yes, there IS another side and we’re headed there together!’   I’m so thankful to God because He sends those who would speak His Words, and actively care the way He does.  That is what points to Him and reminds me what I momentarily forgot about the other side.

Warm Wednesday Words: Not so Steady Sentiments

Me and TonyExuberant (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary) very lively, happy or energetic:  filled with energy and enthusiasm.
Passion (Dictionary.com) Any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
Grief (Dictionary.com) A cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.

It can be a blessing and a curse to feel strongly.   I’d  rather dwell on the fun and happy…better yet, joyous, side of things, especially since what we feel deeply must be expressed some way or another.  When I was growing up, Donna Fargo’s lyrics, “Shine on me sunshine, walk with me world, it’s a skippidity do-da-day, I’m the happiest girl in the whole U.S.A”  resonated with me.  My mom loved to tell stories and laugh and joke while we cleared the dinner table and wound down most evenings.  Like anybody, I love the fun times but can embrace the occasional heartbreak, too, and sometimes even in the same general time frame.

To both soar high and plunge deep is the personality God gifted me with and its bane is restrained by the Christ who lives in me.  Unfortunately, that restraint is an ongoing and unfinished process.  But for most folks,  honest humility necessitates reciprocal forbearance.  I find comfort in the Biblical David, and many other Biblical characters who felt deeply.  As obvious from the Psalms, David dealt with a restlessness and a range of emotions.  Yet his confident expectation was in God that without a doubt all would be made right.  (Ps. 63:1-11)  He was hidden in Christ and an avid worshiper.  And so am I.

open my mouth wide enoughGuy Brown, Ph.D., commenting on Kay Jamison’s book,  “Exuberance:  The Passion for Life”, says that ‘exuberance appears to feed off social interaction…and in adults exuberant behavior can be regarded as youthful playing or “kidding around”…exuberance is a behavior or mode of interaction, rather than an emotion …Exuberance keeps occasional company with grief, though grief may command the greater mention.’  It is here that passion, with its’ long suffering tendency, may over ride the sometimes more flitty exuberance.  While talking at length on exuberance and all its pros and cons, Brown says, “Yet exuberance and joy are fragile matter.  Bubbles burst; a wince of disapproval can cut dead a whistle or abort a cartwheel.  The exuberant move about the horizon, exposed and vulnerable.’  There was a curious request made of God in an Anglican prayer, he says.  ‘Shield your joyous ones.’  Everyone asks God to watch over the sick, the despairing, the suffering; as well we should.  Yet, I’m thankful someone thought fit to pray for divine protection for the exuberant ones normally left to their own devices, and the misunderstandings and judgments that cloud their paths.

Brown and Jamison allow that the exuberant types can be “silly, juvenile, annoying, and disruptive”.   But thankfully, Jamison added a saving grace, “Potentially, they may be more creative, because they generate random, playful ideas.”  Though Brown was somewhat searing on the exuberant types and admitted to being more of an “Eeyore” than a “Tigger”, he did offer food for thought.

Meantime, I tend to ere more on the lighter side and find lengthy cut and dry, “left brain” centered engagements like a stuffy room, drastically in need of a breath of fresh air.  In one of my favorite Oswald Chambers devotionals (and there are many), he says, “Beware of allowing yourself to think that the shallow aspects of life are not ordained by God; they are ordained by Him equally as much as the profound.  We sometimes refuse to be shallow not out of deep devotion to God but because we wish to impress….And it causes us to be a walking rebuke to other people.” (Nov. 22 My Utmost for His Highest)

humor, faith, laughter, prayerJesus promised those of us who grieve are blessed, because we will also laugh.  We are told that laughter is good medicine.  I personally think that should include belly laughter, and definitely should include a trust in God despite circumstances.  God tells us quite simply how to live:  “Be fair and just to others, compassionate and loyal in our love, and don’t take ourselves too seriously, but always, always take God seriously.”  (Micah 6:8 The Message).  Along with being Holy, Just, Mighty, Fearsome and many other things, God is also Compassionate and has a sense of Humor.  On the exuberance scale are you more the Tigger or the Eeyore?  What characteristic do you have that vacillates between a blessing and a curse?  How do you keep on the positive end of the spectrum?  How forgiving are you with failures, both in yourself and others?

Warm Wednesday Words: Inside Out

insideout.jpgSitting in church Sunday, I glanced at my husband and was dismayed to notice that his shirt was inside out.  Surprised, but not too ruffled, he exited out the side door right by him and made the switch.  That was actually the second time my dear husband has been an inside out shirt trend setter at church.  The first time I noticed it after we returned to our seats from the alter where we had stood, back to congregation, and prayed for our youngest son on Graduation Sunday, while sporting “Faded Glory” washing instructions across his back for anyone with a keen eye.  While laughing at work the next day about our mishap, a sweet boss told me that it is the sign of a lucky man to find his shirt on inside out.  I don’t know, but I was thinking about the inside out business of being a Christian.

His strength in our weaknessWhen life seems overwhelming, I run to the Rock that is higher then I, and (sometimes after kicking and screaming inside first), I usually find this inside out truth – that His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  I make it my goal to…” take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures because of Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Cor. 12:9-10 HCSB) When I forgive others with the same grace I’ve received, knowing the ground is equal at the foot of the cross, and when I trust God to turn a situation around for the good, He is then willing to go to work on my behalf.

possible with HimHe picks up right where my weakness and faith invite Him in to take over.  Nothing is impossible with Him.

do not be anxiousMost everybody knows worry is a bad thing even in the most upsetting of circumstances.  It might take me a little while to get to a place of peace.  But the most inside out thing of all is to give thanks for my upsets and tragedies.  Not that I am glad for tragedies, but that God can be glorified through them.  For that I can give thanks with His help.

more blessed to give then receiveHere’s another inside out principle….storing up and  coveting more and better without thought for the poor (and that is not necessarily defined by government) can make a selfish and hardened heart, yet generous sharing enriches a soul.  God warns not to live in selfish  luxury and indulgence.  Giving, especially sacrificial giving, definitely softens the heart and just plain feels good.  In another inside out twist, God has actually chosen the poor who love Him to be rich in faith.

rejoice in insults I have been on both ends of rudeness and mistreatment before, (whether intentional or not) as likely anyone whose honest has.  It happens, though the persecutions spoken of here are more serious and horrific around the globe, and on the increase even in our country.  But the inside out perspective is this.  There’s a reward waiting when I leave it in God’s hands and refuse bitterness.

treasures in clay jarsThe cool thing about being a child of God is the enemy can’t win.  He’s already lost.  Even when I’m down.  God rushes to  rescue (soul first and foremost) and uses it all.  When I rally in my own strength this promise does not apply.

those who exalt themselvesWith God, the way up is down...bowed down in prayer that is.  Praying His promises, believing He will fulfill them because I have died to self and live for Him.  Just as a flower dies to drop it’s seed before renewal, so I have to leave my vision in His hands to fulfill or not, according to His best plan.

we look at what can't be seenHere’s a great inside out truth.  I look at what can’t be seen.  But actually, in my faith, it can be seen and I hold onto it through His promises.   Because of this I can let go and worship while still in the storm.  I can “see” with my faith vision, and because of His love for me that I know so well, I know that I know that He is at work.

we fight on our kneesIn my prayers, I go to war with the most powerful weapons not generally known to man.  They are mighty weapons that demolish “invisible”, but very real, strongholds.  They are the weapons of the name of Jesus, my faith in Him, and the Scripture promises that I stand on!  There is nothing on this earth so effective as a devoted child of God praying with “clean hands” and a pure heart (because of Christ) and childlike trust.  It’s here that often dismal circumstances turn with God’s miraculous touch, but whether or not, I definitely abide in His presence and know His love.  No matter how my life is going here, where I am just a stranger, I long for the day I am with Him in eternity and these present sufferings behind me.  I know it’s just ahead and I keep my eye on the prize.

faithful to death - crown of lifeThat seems to be the ultimate inside out deal.  Faithful unto death, gets the crown of life.  Whether it’s death to a thousand little selfish things, or choosing death over denying Christ for eternity’s sake, this is the ultimate call.  So next time you find your shirt on inside out, consider yourself “lucky” to be reminded that we live inside out.  What have you worn inside out or turned around?   Please tell me it’s not just at our house.  What “lucky” application fits?

 

Warm Wednesday Words: Hope in the Night

joyful in hopeLast fall I was well into a dark and difficult season of my life in which I needed to cling to every scrap of hope just to function.   I longed for a time machine to jump in and travel to a few years from now and skip this season.  Since that didn’t happen, I did the next best thing and purchased several bags of beautiful bulbs and crammed them in every available flower bed and pot around the house.  Other then the times I was buoyed with the lifeline of empathy, encouragement and time out with family and friends (who are cemented in my personal hall of fame),  my “recreation” centered on bulb catalogs and wondering what mile marker I would be passed when each variety bloomed.  Bulbs symbolize what God, in His Divine Providence, is doing in the hidden realms that we don’t see.  Yet for those who love Him, He is faithful to work all the intricate details out and use them for His glory and our good.  He is a master weaver of our circumstances, even though we can’t see the finished tapestry yet.

pain prefaces birthAmaryllis  gave me just what I needed during the dead of winter to hold me over until spring and outdoors.  It was fun to buy several and share them with some family and a mentor who has stood staunchly on faith and determinedly propped me up a few times, as well.   Our faith filled prayers for God’s glory to be evidenced in difficult circumstances are synchronized as we tend to our amaryllis bulbs and watch their beauty unfold.

BeFunky_IMG_9104.jpgHis creation of the flowering bulb holds striking symbolism of my faith and trust in Him even when I can’t see what He’s doing.  Even the bulb, itself, holds symbolism.  While it is in the cold, dark, earth, it finds it’s sustenance from within to send forth the new growth.  While I am in the dark trial, I must find strength from my inner most core; i.e. the Lord and His Spirit and the comfort, direction, and even sure promises that I can only get from time spent alone with Him

hope that is not seenWhat do you hope for and how long term is it?  What visual reminders do you place in your life to help you hang on to hope?