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?

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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: 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?