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The years teach much which the days never knew.
–Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Regard Not Your Stuff

On my mind lately is the paradox how much I regard my stuff and how much I know this truth: Regard not your stuff!   It’s a common thing, isn’t it—to fret or to fear or to regard our stuff?  We sometimes fear what God might ask of us.  We fear He just may send us to Africa (gasp!) or some other place we know we do not want to go; we fear He may ask us to (gasp!) Homeschool, or to (gasp!) submit to our own husband, have a home business or do things we’ve never done or, never (gasp!) wanted to do.  We may actually have several “never’s” on our list.

We may think not so much of where we’re going or what we’re going to do as what we’ll necessarily have to leave behind.  Consider Joseph:
Genesis 45.17-21
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan;  And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.  Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.  Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.  And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way.

Did you catch a few morsels of truth in that passage?  God uses situations — whomever, whatever and however He wants — for His purposes.  God used Pharaoh to accomplish His purposes and He will use men and women in our lives, situations we face: mission fields or businesses or ministries He’s given us: to accomplish His plans for us.   As wives and mothers, we might not immediately see how He’s using us—it might be years down the road when we get a glimpse of how He’s used/using us.  Note what Pharaoh said – and I think what God says to us in verse 20:  “Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.” 

Regard not your stuff.  But we do regard our stuff, don’t we?!  We think on our stuff, plan for our stuff, guard our stuff and probably often covet even more stuff.   But when God has a plan and that plan calls for action, I think one of the most important decisions we need to make is the decision to NOT regard our stuff.

You know what that “stuff” is in Genesis?  It’s the sort of stuff we have in our lives today.  Strong’s identifies it like this:  from 3615; something prepared, i.e. any apparatus (as an implement, utensil, dress, vessel or weapon):–armour ((-bearer)), artillery, bag, carriage, + furnish, furniture, instrument, jewel, that is made of, X one from another, that which pertaineth, pot, + psaltery, sack, stuff, thing, tool, vessel, ware, weapon, + whatsoever.

Read those words again… you’ll get a better picture of the stuff God doesn’t want you to regard when He places a call for you to do something.  And the next time God asks something of you and you’re tempted to say no or to doubt the plan or God’s design for the next season, regard not your stuff… your  clothes, purses, 15 passenger carriage or your sports car, your furniture, the stuff in your kitchen, the jewels, pictures, the scrapbooks, the plans, the quilts — hopefully, this little message will come back to your remembrance: regard not your stuff.

Maybe God’s calling you to give Him Lordship of your womb and you might fear you can’t handle what He might bring.  Maybe you feel like you cannot take care of many children, or that the needs will be too great.  Maybe you are too highly regarding your husband, his life, health, job, finances, companionship — maybe all of those things prevent you from fully trusting the Lord—that it is Him—the Lord—who provides for you, protects you, comforts you, guides you.  I know I’ve put my husband in the place of the Lord so many times — feeling quite sure I’ll never survive were he to die before me.  Most times, the stuff we’re “regarding” are things we cannot control or are things we fear—things we cannot see.

See? We all have stuff we regard.  God knows all this.  God knows what you’ve got, what you like, what you need, what you think you need and on and on.  God knows it all.  But you know what?  Most important is: that God knows what you really need and He’s already made provision for it.  We, you and I, need to accept His call, accept will, and not regard our stuff so much that we miss it:  God’s marvelous plans. Or, worse, that we reject His marvelous plans.

Remember:  “… regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.”  I think the LORD has this note in Scripture for our good — it’s a reminder to us that we needn’t worry about what we might have to leave behind because He already has a plan for us.  And it is good. And it is for our good!

You know a couple of very familiar passages: Romans 8.28 and Jeremiah 29.11.  Have you thought on them in awhile?   I’d like to say that those two verses, in particular, are very helpful, but I’d like to suggest reading the passages that contain those two verses for tremendous encouragement and blessing.  Here they are in part:

Romans 8.26-28

26  Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I have more assurance of this than I’ve ever had as I edited this post today. Trials and triumphs, sorrow and tears, joys and delights have taught me so much in the 11 years since I initially wrote much of what’s written here today.  And so, I encourage you to rest in the Lord… fret not over what God’s doing in your life or where He’ll call you to go or what He’ll call you to do.  Regard not your stuff.  No matter how things seem to you to be today: God cares for you, the Holy Spirit is ever making intercession for you.  The LORD Jesus has taken care of everything that concerns you.  God says He will be found by you when you call upon His name.

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the suicide option

rosecolouredglassesThrough our lives we have experiences that are etched on our hearts and minds — experiences that shape our thinking, shape our reactions, shape our responses, shape our decisions — maybe even shape our initial theology or lack thereof.  If these etchings were recorded on 3×5 cards, in time we’d have quite a card file full, wouldn’t we?  Events and experiences, lessons and influences all recorded on cards make up our individual card catalogs.  It’s interesting to me, every now and then, to come across a card I realize has had a profound impact on my life and thinking.  One of the greatest regrets I have from a young age is collecting a couple of influence cards I wish I’d never acquired.  On the cards are written: the suicide option.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently…  deaths of friends and loved ones, news headlines trigger memories… the file drawer opens… the influence cards tumble out.

I was a second grader when my mother got the call that her father had died. A strange disconnect defines that event.  On the one hand, I heard that he never looked better and on the other hand, I saw my grandmother weeping over her loss.  So young I was, so innocent regarding the trials and tragedies that befall people in life — at that point, unaware of what would later be the personal impact of my granddaddy’s death.  When my  mother returned from Texas after his funeral, she gave me one of the few things she brought from his home — a little tin box decorated with flowers containing my granddaddy’s sewing kit and also a package of “moth balls” — not chemical mothballs used in storage containers, but candy… small balls of sweet, nutty deliciousness.

Through the years stories pieced together framed the mental picture of what really happened with my grandfather;  he was an alcoholic who’d come to the end of his options and resources and succumbed to the enticing lie that death was the only way out. On one of the cards in my mental card file is recorded that in a closed garage, carbon monoxide from a car’s exhaust system is a suicide method.   Little more than three years later my mother’s brother would add another suicide option card to my card file. It was August… I was eleven when that card was added.

I’m amazed, through the years, how many times those cards have made their way into my hands… how many times I’ve turned them over in my hands, carried them around, and for a time mulled them over.  Stunned from time to time that I could possibly take those cards out and look at them as options and ever for a moment consider listening to the lies of the devil that my life’s a waste or that everyone would be better off without me or whatever the devil’s lie du jour is.  By the grace of God that’s all… but by the grace of God… I am carried through that darkness.

Throughout time, the devil has been capitalizing on twisting variations of the same lie.  The lie always includes a form of death… death of self, death of relationships, death of purity or innocence, death of faith,  etc.  In the beginning, in subtlety and condescension, taking advantage of her innocent reasoning,  satan challenged God and enticed Eve, saying: …you shall not surely die.  And throughout history he’s played with the emotions of despairing and desperate individuals to persuade them one way or another, but the end is the same: death.  From the beginning, the devil’s been twisting the truth on death.

Like his father before him, I’m sure my uncle felt much the same desperation that hot August day.  He’d run out of options and resources and probably reasoned there’d never be an end to his financial losses and never a solution to his mounting obligations. No amount of reasoning could restore confidences that the financial gains and successes he’d previously enjoyed in life could possibly  be rebuilt or that the losses could be overcome.  Another method was recorded that day — if his life was a mess, his death was more so.  I feel sick every time I hear that song’s refrain: he put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger.  I hate that song.  It’s no lullaby.

The devil’s a master of all or nothing — that whatever’s happening today will be happening forever — the all or nothing that things will always be this way, nothing’s ever going to be any different or any better than it is today — thus, there’s just one solution: death.  Problem is, the devil never gives any warnings about what else really happens when he tempts (or succeeds) with that suicide option.  It’s not a solution—it’s an amplified problem but the despairing one is gone and never sees the enormous ripple of the suicide rock hitting the pond.  Is it desperation that fuels depression or is it depression that fuels desperation?   Eternity will sort this out;  whatever the case, both block out reason — both are blinding.  Both fall into the abyss of great darkness.  And the devil loves darkness — and loves to shroud us in darkness at every turn because his deeds are only evil continually.

His playbook is thin — satan doesn’t need many tricks.  The same traps and tricks have been working for him since he first beguiled Eve and all the others since… the lies he tells you and me… the lies he’s perpetuated from that day to this come from his little playbook. Hath God said?

You’ll be better off.  It’s your life.  You’re not hurting anyone.  They’ll be better off without you.  This is the only way.  You always do this.  You’ll never change.  Life is only misery, you’ll be in a better place and on and on.  His methods have not changed — his motive has not changed — he hates God and God’s glorious creation and will stop at nothing in his pursuit to steal, kill and destroy life, faith and hope in God — ultimately to persuade individuals to take their eyes off God.  But remember this:  he’s a defeated foe — a lion with no teeth, a roar with no power.  In the end, his challenge is not with you — you’re just a pawn to him.  His challenge is with God.   Remember that: he hates God and doesn’t care a thing about you.

quote…He [the devil] was a murderer from the beginning,
and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie,
he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
john 8.44

If life’s dealt you a suicide option card… remember that it was an option someone else took.  It doesn’t mean it is your option.  You ought to  talk it over and get your mind set on Truth.  Guard your mind, guard your idle thoughts.  Remember, your adversary, the devil, is a thief.  Get  acquainted with, and very familiar with, the Truth.  Know the Truth that the Truth will set you free.  Remember that Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  In Jesus is life.  Abundant life.  He also said, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 10.10 / 16.33)

May the Lord be your peace and comfort if you’re hurting over losses today.  May the Lord be your strength and salvation and source of joy.

[I originally wrote and published this article 8.12.2014]

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The Power of Music

Music. It tells a story, makes us smile, makes us cry, warms our hearts, consoles our hurts, tells our stories. That’s the power of music.

This morning one of my daughters sent a text, a picture of her home’s front flowerbed: hyacinths and dozens of tulips just beginning to bloom. How sweet of the Lord to give her that gift — this is the first Springtime in her new home and so the various plantings done by the previous owner are just coming into view.  This is just an example of so many things the Lord has done for her.

As I was gratefully thanking the Lord for His marvelous works and  gifts in her life, her next text was a link to a powerful  song.

She’s a deep thinker, a planner, a motivator, a passionate worker and overachiever. She takes things very seriously and so when she suggests a method of doing things, or a book to read or a song to hear, I listen.

I pressed ‘play.’  I cried and listened again. The incredible power of music–that is, the power of music with a powerful message. If you’re fearing something today, if you’re fearing what others think of you, if you’re facing a huge tax debt, if you’re suffering financial burdens, job losses, health problems , if you’re lonely, alone — if you’ve lost your way, if you’ve messed up relationships in your life, if you’re covered up in an avalanche of sin, stupid mistakes, if you’ve got heavy regrets:  fear could (probably will) lead you to do, think, say, and/or feel things that aren’t going to end well for you. Fear is a liar. Fear isn’t of the Lord. Fear is of the enemy of your soul.

Fear will work to convince you your life’s not worth living. That’s a lie. Fear is a liar.  Don’t give in. Don’t give up. Watch. Watch and see… the things that are crushing you today will be turned into a powerful testimony of God’s great grace. Watch and see. Trust Him today: He is true.

I hope this powerful song will minister to you today –wherever you are– and I pray, as I press ‘publish’ today, that you’ll turn to the Lord and rest in His love for you, give Him your problems, He’s the only one who can solve them, He’s loved you with an everlasting love and He has perfect plans for you and every single thing that concerns you.  I pray you’ll lay your sorrows and problems at His feet.  I don’t say any of this lightly. It’s true: Taste and see the Lord is good. He hears and He heals.

{Zack Williams – Fear is a Liar – music video}

Call someone. Talk to someone. Tell someone your story. Talk over your problems. Don’t walk your journey alone. Don’t carry your burdens alone.

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Lists Are Tools

After writing last week how I dealt with starting out unprepared, my friend wrote about lists I used to have on my walls. So I thought I’d continue on today sharing about lists and how to use them — remembering: lists are tools, they’re simply tools.

Again, I wasn’t born organized — I’m not a naturally organized girl, but life as a mother to many children gave me much practice and many opportunities to test the results of being disorganized and being organized. And, believe me, organized was better. It’s still better — and it is for so many reasons I actually had no grasp of at the time.

Lists help us to be clear on the concept.  And, as the picture to the left shows, when a child isn’t clear on the concept, what we want to have happen isn’t going to happen!  In this case, I needed the dishwasher to be loaded. And it was.  But what I wanted was clean dishes — that wouldn’t have happened if some instruction, care and attention to detail hadn’t been given.

List help us. Lists help us to be careful, thorough, and efficient.  I totally get that lists and schedules are confining — the abstract/random in me knows that feeling very well! But it’s in the confines of the list that our true desires can be laid out.

Lists help us not only do what we ought, but also what we want.  Most of us want a clean house, for example, and more, we ought to have a clean house. But it’s more fun to hang out on the computer, or go to the beach or to the lake or swing in the park. It’s more fun to chat over coffee, read a book, or go window shopping.  Interestingly, lists that help us do what we ought, also help us do what we want — they help us accomplish what we ought to have done so that we can have time to do whatever else we want to do. ~smile~

For years I had lists on the walls of rooms in our home.  Some of the lists detailed, in order, what was entailed in cleaning that room.  In time, these lists became more than cleaning tools.  As I would later learn, they were a discipline tool, a work ethic tool, a negotiating tool, and a great feedback “check-list” for the room when it was pronounced “all clean” by whichever child(ren) doing the job.  Since the list was on the wall, children knew it wasn’t just an arbitrary decision what to do to clean the room. I worked side by side whoever was learning to do a job until I knew they really knew what to do.  I didn’t want to set them up for failure… I wanted them to win. ~smile~ Often, it would have been so much easier and quicker to just do the work myself, but then, that would have defeated my purpose in bringing up children.

So, as an example, on the kitchen wall, (as best I can recall) I had a laminated list something like this:

To Clean This Kitchen

Unload the dishwasher
Clear the table to the kitchen
Wipe the table and the chairs with a clean, damp cloth
Put away the milk and wrap “left-over” foods, etc., into the fridge
Scrape, then Rinse the dishes, load the dishwasher
Wash the pots, pans, griddle, etc., with soap and hot water
Dry them with a clean towel and put them away
Wipe the jars, mixer with a clean dishcloth, rinse the cloth

Wipe all the counters, start at one end, all around the kitchen
Wipe the stove top, rinse the dishcloth
Wipe the drawers, cupboard doors, stove door, refrigerator door
Rinse the dishcloth, hang up the towel
Sweep the floor
Take out the trash (if needed)
Take the dishcloths and towels to the laundry (if needed)

I shared earlier that these lists did much more than outline the job. They helped kids (and myself) see what was expected and gave them opportunity to negotiate who would do what on any given night as there were generally at least a couple of kids doing the work.  Occasionally, I’d be in on a plan where one child offered to do another child’s job if they did their job.  I tried not to be too strict on who was doing what — only that everyone had to contribute what they were capable of doing in one way or another (on that or some other job in the home).  All along the way, they were learning skills, they were learning to work and the repetition helped them learn to be thorough in their work — whatever it was.  And to this day, they, each one, amaze me with their attention to detail on jobs.  It’s one of the “I’m glad we did that” things I look back on.

 

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Unprepared

Just so’s ya know, I’m not a naturally prepared girl — I’m more unprepared than prepared.  But God. It was through many blessings in my life that I learned to be prepared for things. It was through many failures, missed events and opportunities that I had to develop methods to be better prepared for — well, for life.

But I was unprepared. I didn’t come from a large family. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. I didn’t have a great deal of Bible knowledge yet–but I had faith and that faith began to bloom.  And so, that was the foundation of our marriage from the beginning: faith, hope and love.  I didn’t have great homemaking, or cooking, or gardening, or time-management skills.  And while I didn’t have a whole lot of experience, what I did have was a whole lot of want to! I really wanted to be a faithful woman, to have a happy marriage, home, and family.

L
ittle by little, I learned how to plan, how
being a wife, mother, homemaker was everything I never knew I wanted
to work, how to anticipate, how to care for my husband, family, and home. It surely didn’t come naturally to me, but being a wife, mother, homemaker was everything I never knew I wanted. I didn’t just want to be those things… I realized early on that I wanted to be good at those things.

So life circumstances developed into “preparedness training” for me. Necessity being the mother of invention, I had to develop methods for keeping some semblance of order (and sanity).  I spent years defining and refining and–decades–preparing each day for the day ahead. I wrote in journals. I kept a notebook/planner that had all sorts of sections for specific information, appointments, shopping lists, kid’s needs- sizes, etc., meal plans and other records–I called it “my mind” and, truly, if I’d misplace it or (seem to) lose it somewhere, I’d sincerely lament: I lost my mind. ~smile~

Life preparations included a large “white-board” on the wall; it had a couple of rows on top and underneath, header columns written in Sharpie: names, chores, assignments, activities, appointments. In the top row (with dry erase markers) I wrote the month, day and year. In the row beneath that, I had seven squares, one for each day of the week and in each of those I wrote the family activity/appointment/whatever for that day.  In long columns, I had sections for chores, schoolwork, etc., and down the left side I had each child’s name (creating a row for each one).   For those who could read, I’d dry-erase write in the information for the day; for those who could not, I had small “chore” pictures for them to see, to do, and to tell me they’d done whatever the little picture indicated each day.

Years went by. More children were born. The whiteboard got bigger — the columns, longer; the days, fuller.  And then the season began to change… a couple of names dropped off the board, but more names began to be added to my notebook.  Then more names dropped off and I was slowly heading into a new role. Kind of unprepared, really.

I don’t have that sort of notebook anymore. The notes I take and the lists I make are nothing like those of days gone by.  I don’t buy ten gallons of milk every week, I don’t do 4 or 5 loads of laundry every day, I don’t pass out chore lists — I don’t have a whiteboard on the wall anymore.

Though I still feel sort of unprepared sometimes in this new-ish season, I looking forward to each day with anticipation. When I get a call from a daughter, a facetime or a recipe request, or a visit with some thrilling news; or daughter in law wanting to visit or wanting care for some littles, or any or all the kids stopping by for a visit, I give thanks to the Lord for all this.  Ironically, each day I prepare for the things that come up for which I might’ve thought I was unprepared, but God!  Then I marvel: in nothing and everything He prepared me for this.

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Jesus Saves

Freedom.

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Keeping a Journal

Keeping a journal is sure a marvelous way to watch for the Hand of the Lord in our lives.  I say marvelous bcz of the many times I’ve seen the “rest of the story” or the completion of the story as I’ve gone back and reread passages written in days gone by.  Had I not kept a note or had I not written a thought, a description of an event, a heartfelt prayer, or lamented a painful sorrow, I’d not have connected the beginning to the end of a trial — an answer to an ache or God’s plan for the experiences of sorrow, regret or pain.

I remember thinking {fearing, really} that I wouldn’t want someone to find my journals, read them and know my deepest thoughts.  I’m not so concerned about all that anymore — probably bcz I can’t imagine why anyone would take the time to read them.  But there’s still an occasional pang in my heart that my journals might be read by others and they’ll misinterpret what’s written, pin me to that entry, miss the bigger picture or misunderstand why I write what I do or how I do.

Keeping a journal is so much more than just documenting events — it’s really an exercise of discerning current “reality” and what I think about it (at the time).  It’s in the writing that we come to grips with what we really feel about a matter as if the instrument of our writing is a spotlight giving clarity or illuminating that current reality. I say this bcz it’s sure interesting how after writing down the thoughts or the feelings of an event/circumstance/season, I’ll look back and reread those thoughts and see that either I feel the same way or I was seeing that circumstance all wrong and am glad for the passage of time to see things differently. This is (or should be) encouraging — encouraging bcz it shows growth — encouraging bcz it shows God is at work — encouraging bcz it reaffirms to me to be teachable, flexible, open to God’s work in my heart and life. And, it’s encouraging to see growth especially if you’re like me, the devil sure attacks by trying to Superglue me to my past failings (and keep me there).

From time to time, rereading what I’ve written in days gone by is really quite humbling.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve opened an old journal and thought:  Omygoodness, I never want to repeat that stupid behaviour, or think/say those self centered things!  Reading past thoughts/feelings reveals a lot of things — helps me to reevaluate my thinking and to, if necessary, realign it with God’s Word and not according to how things seem(ed) at the time.

Another thing that “looking back” does, is to reveal God’s workHis ways and His purposes for various trials and temptations I/we face.  We can’t learn much if we don’t look back and remember what He’s done. It’s in the remembering that our faith is made surer, stronger, more secure. It’s in the looking back that trust is built and/or strengthened. It’s in the remembering that we can give thanks.

Keeping a journal ultimately shows us that God is writing our story. He is working all the stuff — everything — together for His glory and our good. When I write in anguish over an event, it’s almost a blaring signal to me now: watch! wait and see! God’s working! this is so hard! this is so big: God’s surely in it!!

And, what do you know? It’s always true. God’s at work. He’s in the big things. He’s in the little things. He’s working for His glory and my good.  And I’ve got His Word on it.  And, to God be the Glory:  I’ve got my own words to remind me of this incomprehensible truth.

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Welcome Home

Welcome Home. Some of the sweetest words we all long to hear, long to read, long to know: Welcome Home.

Some of you have been reading pages of my journal for many years — some, perhaps, for the first time today.  I’m glad you’re here — I’m glad you’ve been here.  I’m a sporadic blogger but a daily reader and writer, and, this being the case, it’s probably disconcerting to readers to wonder when/if another entry will be written — I know it is to me. ~smile~
This past season’s been strangely tough for me – tough to figure out, tough to define, tough to understand. But I’m thankful for this past season of wondering, wandering, meandering. I’m thankful for what I’ve learned — learned about myself, learned about others, learned about the Lord.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that with God, it’s always: Welcome Home. It may not be so with others and it may not feel so with myself, but with God, it’s always: Welcome Home.  Others may reject you, mock you, shame you, judge you, walk away from you.  But not God. God’s always: Welcome Home. You may destroy your message, destroy your days with regret, destroy your hopes for a better tomorrow by dwelling on hoping for a better past — your regrets are Super-gluing your there.  But not God. God’s always: Welcome Home.

Had I not spent the last 8 years in and out of emotional turmoil, I’d not be able to surely tell you this today. I’d not be convinced that I know that I know that I know: God’s always: Welcome Home and the devil is always the super-gluing deceiver.  There’s no hope for a better past, but the devil will preoccupy you with your failings so that you have no hope of a better future.  So preoccupied have I been with my failings, disappointments, regrets, that I’ve been largely ineffective to “occupy till He comes.”

I’ve thought I need to daily admit to my failings as a distracted mother, wife, friend, follower of Jesus, so that no one will think I’ve forgotten my failings. Even my children who say, What are you talking about? I don’t remember that. So I remind them. I’ve thought I need to regularly rehearse them so that it won’t seem like I’m pretending I wasn’t distracted, never failed, or that I’ve forgotten.  That’s a lot of focusing on me, isn’t it?  That’s heavy self-centered burden, isn’t it?  And, it’s contrary to the message of the Cross, isn’t it?

I should have done better. I could have done better.  I would have done better had I realized I shouldda, couldda. But that’s not the reality. In reality, I didn’t.  And there’s not a single thing I can do about any of it. At all.  So… I’ve been doing differently.  And by the grace of God, I can see it’s all been to His glory.

And the thing I know is: God. God is always: Welcome Home.  The focus is on Him. The focus is Him. The focus is from Him.  So wherever you are today, reading the pages of my journal, I pray you too will know the freedom to go on, from today, knowing the Welcome Home of God. In Him is forgiveness. In Him is life–real life. And in Him is fullness of joy. There is NOthing you can do about your yesterdays and how you spent them. But there is something you can do about today.

Today, you can confess your sorrow, sin and regrets — and lay them all down — lay all your regrets/burdens down at the foot of the Cross (and say Thank You, Lord), and walk through the door of God’s Welcome Home and see what He wants you to do today.  Just do that.

Welcome Home.

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Seasons End In Various Stages Of Bloom

I’ve been mulling over the thought of seasons ending in various stages of bloom.  It was below freezing through the night and this morning and as I look out the windows of my warm home, I see all around, summer is falling to the ground. The trees are losing their leaves, many fewer on the trees today than yesterday… more all over the lawn and field. The roses, hydrangeas and other flowering plants are losing their beauty, ending in various stages of bloom.

The wood burns hot in my woodstove… wood cut from huge trees that still had more life in them, but instead of standing to provide shade, they were cut down to provide heat.  The seasons of those trees came to an end.

The beautiful rosebuds on sturdy bushes remind me there’s still more life in those canes. The tender new hydrangea mopheads amidst hundreds of large, dry flowers affirm life in the woody canes.  In a matter days, these freezing nights will signal an end to this season of blooms and left behind will be brown, dry flowers and leaves on the ground.

A few days ago, our daughter and grandbaby moved to their own home.  Another season ended.  At the end of that day, Proverbs 14.4 came to mind: “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean…”  That night, as I stood in the empty room, I surveyed the white walls, white curtains, and the bed with no linens, I marveled at the starkness of a season that had come to an end.  It was good for me to see it. This is not meant to be a maudlin commentary, but to just reflect that the busyness of the care and feeding and dressing of babies, the cooing, oohing and aahing, the furniture, the fixtures, toys, the crawling and climbing, the laundry and blankets are the things of a particular season.

I’d never, ever have imagined the season that just passed — that we’d have a granddaughter growing up in our home (albeit, yes, 9 months is a very short while).   The Lord was sure sweet to give us the 9 months on either side of her birth.  I can say that with sincerity and gratitude now.  I’m keenly aware that I had no grasp of what that season of bloom would be like or how it would feel.

Reflecting on seasons that have passed, some in bloom, some far spent, I’m reminded how brief each season actually was.  Hard? Yes. Arduous? Yes.  Thrilling and new? Yes.  Tiring, yet rewarding?  Yes.  Tender and sweet? Yes.  Cold and dreary? Yes.  Sunny and breezy? Yes.  But the interesting thing common to all the seasons that’ve passed?  They’ve all passed in what felt like the midst of them.  By this, I mean, seasons have ended before we thought they would’ve (or should’ve). I’ll bet it’s been the same for you, hasn’t it?

Today, the cold breeze signals change, a season ending in bloom in the midst of the next one in bud.
I stand in the midst of melancholy memories and happy plans for days ahead: anniversaries, weddings, birthdays and family gatherings intermingled with a whole bunch of dailies.

Seasons end in various stages of bloom.
Seasons overlapping seasons. Some still in bloom.  Some will seem to be arduously endless and some will seem to end too soon.  But each will have served its purpose.

To every thing there is a season
and a time to every purpose under heaven…
He hath made everything beautiful in His time…
Ecclesiastes 3.1, 11

 

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Faith Made Surer In Trials

It’s not in the bright, carefree summer days that faith’s made sure, it’s in the rain, the cloudy days, and cold, sleepless nights, it’s in waiting rooms, empty mailboxes, sorrowful news that faith’s made surer. Faith is made surer in times of great alone-ness, struggle, steep climbs — uncharted territory.  Faith made surer isn’t cheap, fleeting, emotional, cushy, easy.

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ore and more that it’s surer faith I desperately want — it’s surer faith I need day by day.  And as I read the Word and as I read years of yesterday’s journal entries, faith is surer than when I first believed.  The humbling thing is that when I first believed, the promises of God — the promises of God that are yea and amen — were all mine.  They were all mine when as yet I had no sure faith — the only faith I had was the gift of faith to believe on the Name of Jesus.  The gift of faith that led me to stand up, go forward, to lay my life at the foot of the Cross. The great exchange had occurred and all the promises of God in Christ Jesus were mine.  And they were yea; and they were amen.

So then… why all the hardships, struggles, tears, losses, scoffers, failures, wanderings? All these and more have been of the Lord to give me His faith — surer faith.

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ere it not for my trials, hardships, failings, I’d have taken credit for — and thought my great ha! accomplishments, works, children, possessions, etc., etc., were my doing!  That’s not to say that many of  my trials, hardships, failings, etc., were not my doing — quite the contrary — but to say that in innumerable ways, they’re all used of the Lord to make surer faith.  Often now, in the midst of a trial, I smile to think and to see that Lord is working — that no matter how painful, disappointing, hurtful, embarrassing, regretful a trial is — the signature of the Lord is unmistakable.  I may not see the purposes, I may never know they why’s, but this I know: The Lord is good all the time.

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o the pain that’s to try me, the disappointment or loss that seems to break me, the long nights, the wasted years, the seemingly senseless choices of others, the regrets… these all are refining fires.  When a crucible is placed in the fire and the dross is removed, the vessel reflects the image of the refiner.  I look around me and wonder: do I want all these things that try me to define me? Or do I want all these things (the things that try me) to refine me and make me fit for the Master’s use?  So I have choice: will I allow or continue to allow these present trials to define me? Or, will I willingly yield them all to the Lord — seeking Him to use them to refine me?

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aith’s a long walk… I’m reminded, again today. I want to be found standing in the Son in faith made surer day by day.

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Thank you for joining me here today, may the Lord bless you and your home.