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Let it Go!

Anyone younger than 10 years old likely would see the title of my post, and think of the movie Frozen.  Hah!  As a side, I actually really like that movie!  I just think it is a cute kid movie!  This movie came out 7 years ago.  At that time I was a nanny for my niece.  I remember playing with her, and she would have me go into her room and close the door.  She’d then lay down outside the door and put her face to the floor to peek under the door.  “Elsa, Elsa,” she would say.  This was copying a scene in the movie.  And so many little girls love the song Let It Go. In fact my niece and I (when I was her nanny) were inside the store Kidstuff.  This toy and education store is full of fun for children, and many of their items are able to be tried out by the children in the store.  This day we were in this store, and another little girl was belting out Let It Go into a microphone.  Both my niece and I watched her.  I later asked my niece if she’d like to try the microphone out.  She shyly nodded.  She was only willing to whisper the song into the microphone, but it was still cute!  Another day I was walking into the grocery store.  A father was pushing his cart out to the parking lot, and in the front of the cart was his little daughter, probably three or four years old.  She and he were singing Let It Go.  I smiled at the dad as I passed them, as he looked slightly embarrassed to be overheard singing  Let It Go.  I just thought it was cute that he was singing (and connecting) with his daughter!

Letting go — oh wouldn’t it be so nice if we as adult women could let it go as easily as a toddler singing a fun song?  Yet, if you are like me, we don’t tend to let things go easily.  We worry.  We try to fix things.  We try to take control.

I’ve been listening to this podcast on anxiety — if worry is something that you struggle with (which I think most women struggle with this to some level), I highly recommend taking an hour to listen to this:  Strategies for Fighting Anxiety Part 1   and Strategies for Fighting Anxiety Part 2

Just this morning as my husband and I were talking about some things in our lives, I stated, “I don’t know what to do.”  Later in the day, I was alone and thinking about the same things.  I said to God, “I have to give it to You.  I don’t know what else to do.”  And later still, I was getting ready for bed and into my mind came “My Child, What could I do?  You never did let go.”

Those words are part of a poem that I had read and reread years ago.  I’ve since lost the card that had this poem on it, but I used to carry it in my purse way back in high school!  I mulled over this, and my earlier thoughts of giving my situation to God.  Let it go.  Let it go.  Let it go.  My mind mused.  I argued back, “But what if…”

What if?  My mom once asked me in my lonely single years, “What if God never brings you a spouse?”  What if He doesn’t, I had to ask myself.  I had to ask myself that more than once.  Because the easy thing to say is: of course His will is best.  But do I really believe this? In the midst of emotions?  In the midst of wedding announcement number 25 (seriously, my senior year of college I think there were almost 25 engagements at my small Christian college!), in the midst of longings still unmet?

So tonight I looked up this poem (ahh, the benefit of an online database at my fingertips!)

 

Broken Dreams

As children bring their broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my friend.

But then instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.

At last I snatched them back and cried,
“How could you be so slow!”
“My child,” He said, “What could I do?
You never did let go.”            

(Lauretta P. Burns)

 

And, because God loves me and knows I need help hearing Him, as I was typing this post I turned on the radio and “God is in Control” by Twila Paris was just beginning to play.  I haven’t heard that song in ages.  The very next song was “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”  Is God speaking?  You bet!  Am I listening and trusting? That is the better question!

Precious ladies — what do you need to give to God? What is it that makes you say I don’t know what to do?  God is Faithful.  He is Healer. He is Defender. He is Able.  He is the God who Sees. He is Sovereign.  He is Trustworthy.  He can fix anything broken — He can raise the dead, how much more “broken” can something get?  Press on to trust Him! Ask Him what to do.  Give it to Him over and over and over if you need to.  But, precious lady — join me in learning to let it go!

Pruning – A Garden Journey

I LOVE LOVE LOVE flowers! The more I have, the more I like, the more I want next year!  And the thing is, I’m not very sure of what I’m doing.  Some years are more successful.   I actually keep a journal of my flower garden adventures: what I tried, what I like, what happened.  Weird, but it works for me!  I also note the weather conditions, because I have no control over that!  I’d like to share some pictures with you, in my garden journey.

The picture on the left is the end of August last year. I had planted 3 plants in the planter: 2 red calibrachoas (million bells, a cousin of the petunia) surrounding a purple calibrachoa.  You can see some flowers, some growth, some brown.   The right picture is the beginning of this summer.  This time I switched it up and tried 2 yellow bidens with 6 wave petunias.  The bottom picture shows the same planter 13 weeks later.  You’ll notice the bidens barely show, the petunias have taken over en mass!

And I love how full that planter is!  It makes me happy to see pink flowers.  When the yellow ones poke through I love it even more to see the cheeriness of yellow with the prettiness of pink!  And yet these little flowers are teaching me a lesson.

You see, I am not a very good gardener.  I try hard though.  I read about proper care. I have researched planting and the flowers.  I have tried several times, and several combinations.  And I’m getting better!

Are you wanting to say, “who cares?”  Unless you love details of flowers, or my flowers in particular, this could be a so – what post!  I get it!  But let’s get into what God has been teaching me this summer as I care for my little plants. And hopefully you’ll be encouraged as I have been!

One:  God gives beauty on this earth!  I have been struck afresh with the brightness of color, and the pleasant sweet smell of the petunias (which smell more than calibrachoas by the way!).  I have found myself really enjoying the moments of watering these flowers in either the morning hours with birds screeching around, or in the evening with neighbor kids riding bikes down the street.

Two:  Gardening is not hands off.  And that matters a lot.

So last summer, the flowers grew, and did ok.  The end of August they had flowers.  They looked fine, but they were simply fine – not spectacular!  This summer the flowers are much improved in terms of fullness, and it is not even the end of the summer yet!

Lessons: I have had to readjust what I plant based on what I want.  I have had to learn to prune.  The flowers last year maybe had one trim halfway through July.  That’s it. I watered them.  I fed them.  And it was cooler and rainier.  This year I read up on pinching back the petunias, and on the importance of deadheading.  So I stuck with it, pinching and deadheading all through June.  In the beginning of July I decided they needed a trim, so I cut a bunch off.  Two weeks later I cut MORE off, which you see below is no small amount.  I even cut off full blossoms – not with the intent to enjoy them in a vase, but with the full intent to prune my plant!  And I hope you can see: this final picture is 2 weeks ago, and the one above is now.  Do you see the difference in the amount of flowers and growth today verses two weeks ago?  It was when I was re-trimming that God begin to whisper to my soul.

He begin to explain some things to me about my life (and yours). He has an idea of what He wants our lives to look like.  He wants our lives to be eye catching, and sweet aromas of Him so that we point others to Him.  He carefully plants things in our lives here and there.  Sometimes He plants more, sometimes less, all based on the result He is wanting in that season.  And if He knows something can be better, He prunes.  Pruning might hurt, it might include suffering — He might ask a lot to be given up.  He might have to cut out things that shouldn’t be in our lives.  He might even prune areas that look good already so that in a while more growth and beauty appears.  And sometimes He prunes again just when you thought He was done for a while!  He is The Master Gardener!  His hand and work in our lives to prune us will make us better –if we yield ourselves under His perfect (sovereign) green thumb over the garden of our lives!

Precious Sisters — let’s see what God is doing this season in our lives! Is He pruning?  Is He watering and fertilizing?  He knows just what is needed, and what is not, to produce the best crop in each of us.  His goal is that we would showcase Him! And just like these flowers — we might not see the growth until later!

Brad and I like to walk down along some gardens in St. Cloud. ( The Munsinger-Clemens Gardens.  We highly recommend this little day trip!)  We’ve gone several times this Spring and Summer, more so than other years –just to get out.  We marvel at how much time and effort is put into those gardens.  We delight in all we see and smell — which changes throughout the season.  We talk of how that beautiful place pales in comparison to what Heaven will be like.

Ladies, God wants our lives to be beautiful–just as the most wonderful garden.  He wants our lives to showcase Him and His glory.  He cuts, He prunes, He weeds, He waters, He fertilizes, He plants new or different things.  And then He repeats this over, and over, and over with such love and precision.  Oh Ladies — press on, even through the pruning of your life!

His Kingdom is Forever!

 

I recently watched a favorite movie of mine from my younger years, Ever After.  The last lines of this Cinderella like movie made me smile.  Danielle, the now princess, says to her new husband, “You, Sir, are supposed to be charming.”  He replies, “And we are supposed to live happily ever after.”  “Says who,” Danielle queries back.  The Prince pauses and says, “I don’t know.”  They smile at each other, and the movie fades away and on the screen we read, “and they lived happily ever after.”

Ahh.  Remember watching the Disney channel?  It used to be on Sunday nights, and I liked when our family occasionally watched together in the living room, gathered around our small television.  Mom would sometimes make us a decidedly unhealthy dinner of pizza burgers and chocolate milkshakes.  (This was a vast change from our normal meals!)  Afterwards, The Lawrence Welk Show would continue the evening television lineup.  My brother always left at that point!  But I liked to watch some of it.  The ladies were dressed up pretty, the music was jazzy and fun, and even though it could be a bit more boring than the previous Disney selection, it was fun in it’s own rights, especially since we didn’t watch a lot of tv in our family.  Some of the sets were enchanting, the dancing was graceful or fun, and they always ended with a waltz. Ahh.

Happily ever after.  The end. Princesses.  Charming knights.  It is the stuff of fairy tales.

Another favorite movie of mine from my childhood is Rigoletto.  Do you know this one?  It was produced by Feature Films for Families.  The young heroine, Bonnie, is daughter of a widow.  The town is poor, many people have great needs.  A wealthy man buys and fixes up an old mansion. Bonnie ends up going to work for him, but is instructed to never go into his study, ever.  One day she hears beautiful singing and can’t help but go in. Ribaldi, “the Master,” gets angry.  Ribaldi’s face is scarred and he limps. Gabriella, “a princess” with an angelic voice, soothes Bonnie and after that an unlikely friendship strikes up as Bonnie asks Ribaldi to teach her to sing too, as he taught Gabriella.  Ribaldi loves the town, especially the children. The townsfolk are given large amounts of money anonymously by Ribaldi, but they don’t know it is from him.  The banker is selling their property, but they think Ribaldi is buying them out. The movie ends with the townsfolk hurting and killing Ribaldi in anger, thinking he is taking their homes, all while Bonnie is singing beautifully at a national contest that she was able to go to because of Ribaldi.  She wins, and returns home only to find Ribaldi is gone.  Yet, inside his home, she finds a man.  He looks like Ribaldi, but he is not scarred and doesn’t limp.  He says he is from a far away land, and is just passing through.  He says to Bonnie, “But you don’t believe that do you?”

The move is a mix of reality and fantasy, and at one point Bonnie sings these words (Let Me In by Kurt Bestor and Sam Cardon):

I love the part in fairy tales
That’s very near the end
When all the kingdom cheers for this new queen;
And all is well and all is good
And everyone belongs,
And happily they’re ever-aftering.

Ahh.  Doesn’t it sound magical?  Doesn’t it make you really want that?  But look around us.  Life is not happily ever after right now.  Hatred, racism, extremists, terrorism, a pandemic, child abuse, sex trafficking, domestic violence, cancer, suffering, pain.  I don’t need continue, though many more could be noted.  Why does happily ever after call to us?   Especially, when our reality seems that happily ever after is not possible.

Our hearts long for this elusive ending, I believe, because that is what we were created for and it is what is to come!  Why do I think this?  Because I just read Daniel.  Because I’m studying my way through the Old Testament.  The Old Testament tells a beautiful story of God and His plan and mankind’s fall into sin and their struggle to find that perfect unity that was lost when sin entered.  The story begins in an utopia — a garden of delight and perfectness, and where Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the evening.  Ahh, lovely– right!  But sin and Satan entered and drew people away from God.  Adam and Eve sinned and perfect union with God was marred; pain, suffering, and all sorts of evil now engrain human kind. (Genesis 2-3)  Sin entered all aspects of humanity and all creation even groans under the weight of it.  By the time you get to Daniel in the Old Testament, the Bible has already shown sin and the depraved mind of man.  God grieved over the evil of mankind, so much that he had the intent to wipe out humanity. (Genesis 6:5-7).  However, God saw something different in Noah.  He sent a flood, but in kindness He spared Noah, and therefore, man.  From that man, all people of the earth came to be. One group of people showcased in the Old Testament are the Jews, those of Israeli heritage.  In continuing through the Old Testament the reader learns how God sustained them, blessed them, how they followed after other gods, how God rescued them, how He led them. It is seen over an over how they continually sought after something other than God alone.  God, in justice, had to punish their sins.  Yet again and again, in love, God rescued them, brought them back to Himself, and retaught them His ways.  Now, Israel is “God’s chosen people” and they represent God’s plan and walk with all people.  Praise God in the New Testament when Jesus comes, He dies for all people, even if not a Jew by blood!  (This is hinted at all through the Old Testament too! Praise God!)

So in studying Daniel, I was supposed to come up with a theme for the book.  I sometimes think this is a hard task to condense a book of the Bible into a main sentence.  Daniel is full of prophecy.  Many people would say that is the theme.  But as I thought, this is what I wrote: God is the Most High God, the Ruler of Heaven and all of the earth.  His Kingdom will endure forever!

Ahh!  I went back and looked at who God is as noted in the book of Daniel.  God is the Most High God, the Living God, the Ancient of Days, the Highest One, the Lord, the Great and Awesome God.  He is righteous, compassionate, just.  Ahh! Oh don’t you love it!  God rules over all of heaven and all of earth.  Sin is present right now in astonishing ways, but only for a time!  In Daniel we see prophecy, yes, and in the middle of the predetermined time the Messiah comes!  (Messiah, Savior, Jesus!  Jesus died on the cross to remove our sin and restore right relationship with God!)  And then, after that at the end of the predetermined time the Ancient of Days, God Himself, reigns and His kindgom will never end!  Ahh!!  Do you see?  The fairy tale is in us.  We long for happily ever after, because God has set eternity in our hearts!  Oh precious sisters in God — press on to know this God of Heaven who rules supreme!  His love for you is unfathomable!  Sin’s effects of suffering and pain are great, and our world is in a topsy turvy because of this sin.   But, we know the end!  Praise God, happily ever after is coming!

Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,  for wisdom and power belong to Him.  It is He who changes the times and epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding.  It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness and the light dwells in Him.  The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind. … I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever; For His dominion is an everlasting dominion.  For He is the living God and enduring forever.  O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, the Lord our God is righteous with respect to all His deeds which He has done.  (Daniel 2:20-22, 4:25 & 34, 6:26, 9:4 &14 )

 

*This is the song Ancient of Days that I grew up listening to (if you want another version of song that puts praise into words!)

 

Happy Summer!

 

Hello friends!

I am on my 10th week of furlough.  Summer is here.  And I’m taking some time to be thankful for lots of little things! While I find myself not always with enough to do (productively at least), I’m finding myself enjoying the slow pace of living and the ability to rest.  Today I’m listening to birds sing outside.  I’m mowing the yard. And I’m watering flowers.  Ahh — summer!  I love it! (Although I admit I like the look of a freshly mowed yard — the actual work of mowing is hard!  My husband normally does this task, and I’m grateful he does!)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! (Ps. 34:8)  Yesterday my mom and I shared flower pictures. It’s fun to watch our plantings fill in and grow.  It’s fun to see perennials come up year after year, just because that is how God made them!  We mentioned that they make our yards look pretty, and bring joy!  Oh, see that the Lord is good!  Look around at the beauty of creation!  My husband and I have taken several walks along a lake in the last couple of weeks.  We sometimes just stop and sit and watch out the on water for awhile.  It’s refreshing!  Look at the gift of colors and variety as seen in flowers!

 

 

 

 

 

Oh taste that the Lord is good!  As a kid we had several rhubarb plants.  As a kid I didn’t appreciate rhubarb to the full extent!  Now, I miss rhubarb!  I have been craving it this season, as it seems to be a seasonal treat for the most part.  The other week my husband and I were going to make a run to Bakers Square, just to satisfy my craving of rhubarb — a piece of their pie should do!  However, due to the riots in our city they were closing extra early, and when I called to ask about picking up some pie they let me know their modified hours for the day, and we couldn’t make it there in time.  Oh well!  I did not want to buy rhubarb (why is it so expensive for something most growers give away with abandon!), and mom is too far away (I think she still has a plant!).  But then later when I was at my sister-in-law’s she had some to share!  I came home and the following day went to pick up some juicy strawberries, and the next day –pie!  Isn’t God gracious and good to give taste-buds and flavors in so many varieties!  Since my husband is not a fan of rhubarb, and since I do not want to tempt my lack of self control with a whole pie, I cut the recipe and used these cute little pie plates we got for our wedding! (Please don’t feel bad my husband won’t get any!  I already am planning another dessert that he does like! Plus, I’m the one who craves baked goods.  He doesn’t tend to!)  I heard a lady say the other day, “I don’t know why but it gives me great joy that it is cute!”  I agree!  For some reason I really like these cute pie plates!  It is just another gift from a good God — little cute things that bring enjoyment!

Oh ladies, God is so good to us!  Little blessings abound!  Color, taste, pleasures, and so many more!  May you take some time to delight in little gifts — in the normal mundane of each day where we take so much for granted.  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.  Praise the Lord! (Ps. 150:6)  (And if you want this classic summer pie recipe – here it is from one of my favorite cooking blogs!)

 

“Then they will know that I am the Lord”

Hello friends and fellow women of God!

What strange times we find ourselves in!  No one will forget the year of 2020 as it is the year of the coronavirus pandemic.  So far, with all things happening in our nation and world, it is a year when fear, anxiety, stress, living on less, questions of what is next or what God is doing, and so many other thoughts vie for our attention.  Words with new meanings have become normal to us: social distancing, quarantined, unemployment, masks, temporarily closed, and out of stock.  It is a year so far when we as Christians can not worship God together in our churches, and not due to government restrictions based on persecuting Christians, but because of health restrictions.  It is therefore a year when we as Christians have battled with the thoughts of “if God protects, why not gather,” and yet the wisdom He calls us to employ of submitting to our proper authorities (presidents, governors and health officials) and of not being foolish with the known health risks, have competed within us and caused church leaders likely much prayer and conversations.  It is a year of drive-by parades to celebrate birthdays and graduations.  It is a year where Zoom becomes a way of interacting with people and celebrating weddings, when we’d rather sit across the table from friends and share a cake or a game board.

And it has effected every single person on the planet in some way or another.

God has led me to study through the Old Testament these last couple of years.  It is a slow process for me, and at times I find myself eating up God’s Word as my favorite chocolate cake — more please, and a larger slice tomorrow!  At other times I find myself chewing and swallowing out of sheer willpower – such as the time I ate goat at a friend’s house!  I’m sorry to any of you who regularly eat and like goat.  I found it chewy and hard to get down!

Now, I love the whole Word of God.  But I admit when I hit Isaiah I found a bit of “here we go” coming into my brain.  The major prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are long books!  I persevered through Isaiah and Jeremiah and ordered my next study of Ezekiel.  It happened to be the beginning of March.  Throughout March and April I found myself forcing myself to read, and sometimes rereading and redoing my lesson because I just couldn’t get through the chapters.  I’ve discovered the more you read God’s Word, the more engaging it becomes, and the more you want to be in it.  It’s because it is living and active!  And Ezekiel is no different, it is easier to understand and digest as I keep going, it just is a slow go!  That’s ok!  God is speaking, and His Word can not return void!

So, today in my lesson I hit, “The more you read Ezekiel, linger in its message, and meditate on its precepts, the better you will understand your God and His purpose for placing you in this book at this time in your life.”  Hmm.  I pondered this.  I reread this sentence several more times. Hmm.

March and April 2020.  Covid 19.  Furlough.  My husband getting a night job because we don’t know what’s next and therefore he sleeps when I’m awake and vice versa — I miss him.  Combine that with no work of my own, staying at home, and all else that is going on.  Hmm.

So as I’m going through Ezekiel there is one phrase on repeat.  Whether God is talking to or about Israel (His people), or to and about the nations (those who don’t believe in God), God repeats this phrase: then they will know that I am the Lord (their) God.  His purpose in warnings, in dealing with sin, and even in rest and redemption is so that God’s people and those watching might know that He is the Lord.

Hmm.  Why am I reading Ezekiel right now?  Why indeed?  I believe that during this pandemic God is speaking to both believers and nonbelievers all over the world.  Some will come to know God, others will turn back to God, and some will go on as before not knowing God.  God knows all this.  God allows and controls all things — even calamities.  And His purpose is always His renown.  He will one day send Jesus back to earth — will we be ready?  This season might be a season of God speaking, slowing us down from our normal busyness and distractions, while reminding us of our need for His peace and deliverance.  Maybe.  Please Dear Sisters — listen!  He is the Lord God, and in this season He is speaking to you, to me, to believers, to non-believers, and to the world.  His purpose is this: I am the Lord God.  Oh may we rest in Him as Lord!  And He is good, He is Sovereign, He is our Prince of Peace, and He is our Deliverer! Press on precious ladies to know God and make Him known, even during a pandemic!

 

Is Jesus Enough This 2020 Easter?

Sweet sixteen and never been kissed. Sweet sixteen my heart full of dreams.

I had a plan for my life. I thought I wanted to be a marriage and family counselor.  I headed to college with this goal and a dream.  A dream to meet a guy, get married, have kids.  I wanted five boys! My prideful heart wanted to raise young men who were fun, gentlemen, and knew how to treat a girl – I didn’t always find this in the college boys I knew! I flirted with babies and cuddled them.  A stranger in an airport once commented that I must love children as I made friends with a baby across the aisle.  I nodded – of course!

I was 25 when I had my first date.  I was shy of 31 by two months when I had my first “real boyfriend” – I’d only gone on a handful of dates with a handful of men before that.  I married “my first real boyfriend” two years later on my 33rd birthday.  This man is nine years older.  God gave me cysts on my ovaries while in college, putting me on hormones for 13 years before I ever got married, causing doctors to not know what that would mean for having children later.  God gave me an older husband, and a wedding long after I thought He would. God allowed things that would make conceiving difficult.  And He took my desire for kids of my own and gave me peace even if I had none.  Complete peace.  No longings, no yearnings, no jealousy of others.  He gave me nieces and a nephew, and great nieces and nephews on my husband’s side.  He told me to love them, pray for them, and for their parents.  He took my baby flirting too… and now I can hold and cuddle them, but the desire within me to have my own is gone. I pass them back with utter peace. How strange! How different than my teenage plan!

I had thought long ago that I knew what I wanted.  Now I find myself unsure what I want.  College and grad school to become a counselor came and went. That didn’t seem right, and a counselor I’m not.  When dating my husband, we discussed children and thought we’d be fine either way. We discussed adoption and infertility before even getting married, and made choices against, regardless of whatever came.  I struggled with feeling like I “should” consider these options, until my pastor said that if that’s not what God has put on our hearts, that’s not His plan for us.

It is now four years later.  I’m not living the dream I had so long ago.  What am I living I sometimes ask?  Why am I in social services, I never thought I’d be doing this!  What do I want? I muse over and over.  This life is good, and yet it’s not what either I or my husband thought we’d be, me this close to 40, and he to 50! We thought we’d have more, be more, do more.  Hmmm.

My husband, my friend.  Our lives now one.  We can’t make decisions alone anymore.  My goals and dreams now encompass another. Being one with him becomes the plan.  Yet we are individuals too.  What is God’s plan for us?  For him?  For me?  I question this now over and over and pray that he and I become all we were meant to be – which in God’s plan includes unity between us, and following His plans, not just my dreams.  Hmmm.  I ponder this life, my old dreams, and who I am now.

And then, COVID 19.  Things we love stripped from us: socializing, hugging, connecting, church fellowshipping.  Easter weekend is here.  No church!  No family gathering! No Easter baskets or hunts!  (Which by the way, I’ve decided children really do promote some of the “fun” of holidays.)  No shopping just for fun. No eating out.  No going for a lazy drive just because – at least while we are under stay at home orders.  No friends in our home. Travel reduced.  Work cut off.  Finances less. Life in general right now.

I ponder all this.  I ask myself: Is Jesus enough?  Really enough?  Enough to be my everything, when everything around is different than the dream, or even the norm?  Enough when there is no other?  He says He is.  I say He is Lord over me.  But here I find myself wanting things this world gives or wanting my dreams to become reality! (Which dreams aren’t bad! But all thing are to be under the authority of Christ over me, even dreams and life as I know it.)

It’s Easter tomorrow.  Jesus died and rose again for my sin and yours.  He bought my life and the right to each day as He chooses to give it. He made a way for a relationship with Him both now and through eternity.  He is enough!  But praise be to God who gives so generously! He gives a world full of beauty and color and emotion and relationships and delight!  He gives work and meaning and purpose.  He gives blessing after blessing.  He allows us to choose.  And sadly, so many of us choose other loves over Him first and foremost.

Perhaps this strange Easter season, this season of social distancing, and quarantine, and a pandemic –new words to our ears — perhaps this is all to remind us that Jesus is enough, and to show us just how much hold all these other things have over us.  Perhaps?  Oh precious sisters in God — press on to know Him.  He promises to be more than enough for all we need, and to give us all we need for life and godliness!  Press on, and Happy Easter!

Coronavirus – A Shaken World

Good Morning precious sisters in God!

He has the whole world in His hands!  Praise God for who He is! He is Creator, Sustainer, and our Rock.

Here is a wonderful song that my husband has introduced me to.  I have been singing the chorus a lot lately.

Covid 19 has rocked the world.  It has shaken that which we felt stable.  It shows us how much for granted we take normal interaction, gathering at church, or going out to eat.  March 5th I was watching the news and it was talking of Japan and things closing down there due to the spread of the novel coronavirus originating out of China. I paid little attention — it was a “problem over there.”  But I thought of a former exchange student who lives in Japan.  So I emailed her asking her how she was and saying I had heard of the coronavirus.  She wrote back that she’d been sent home from college, had no idea when graduation would be, or what was next, and she was just sitting at home.  She then said she hoped I and my family were well also as she heard “it” was in the U.S. too.  Well maybe in a very minor way, I thought.

At staff meeting later that week, a co-worker came in with hand sanitizer and wouldn’t sit by anyone, and seemed overly anxious about the coronavirus and Italy’s death rate.  I had not paid a lot of attention to the news.  I knew enough, but not enough.  I leaned to the other extreme of indifference.  Neither were good.  That weekend my parents came, and it was just starting to become a problem.  Mom and I had a women’s retreat that was still going on, though other things were closing. We went. We were blessed.  Sunday came and Sunday school was cancelled but the service was still on, and people over 70 were asked to stay home. My 70ish parents who were in town for the weekend came to church, just as always.  A man at our church spoke of some statistics.  Fear begin to overwhelmingly fill me.  I had moved slowly from indifference to acceptance with peace.  But for some reason while he spoke dread filled me.  Filled me.  I teared up, I snuggled into Brad just as the man was saying how serious he was that if you could touch someone you were way too close.  Thankfully after he spoke another woman immediately spoke the words of Psalm 23 – “Yay though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil!”  I struggled all morning through that service with fighting fear, and speaking the Truth of Scripture over in my mind. I didn’t pay attention to much else of the sermon.

That was the 15th.  Since then many of the people I support have been temporarily laid  off, I’ve been asked to do more work remotely, businesses and schools have closed, I’ve struggled to get enough hours at work, and finally yesterday I was told that I too would be sent on furlough.  The last two and a half weeks, I’ve been more intentional than ever to not look at the news much.  I’ve purposely found out the facts of what is happening via sources like the CDC – only when I wanted to look. I’ve worked the stats to discover that while the death toll sounds like astronomical amounts that it is roughly 5% that die from getting this.  That sounds easier to digest than the actual death toll numbers.  I’ve faced the rising fear that has reared it’s head when I see too much news.  But through it all, I’ve also found Psalm 46, and this podcast series on this Psalm to be sources of great peace and solace.

My quiet time lately has me journeying through Jeremiah.  Jeremiah warned of coming destruction and spoke of God wanting His people to turn back, to follow Him, to repent of their ways.  Throughout the book though, the phrase comes, “Yet they would not listen.”

Dr. Youseff, a pastor who I believe preaches solid Biblical wisdom, spoke of things that are global problems, like COVID 19, and how this might be something God wants to use to get the attention of the world.  I think I agree with this, as in Jeremiah disease, famine, and sword were things that God warned were coming on the people because they were insisting on turning their backs on God.

Dear sisters, I do believe that God is reminding believers that He is God alone.  We, even believers, put our hope and trust in so many things that are not God.  This is a world wide problem, but what about the little things that are happening in your life?  About a month ago I wrote in my journal, “Would I really ‘rather have Jesus than silver or gold, than riches untold, than anything this world affords today’?”  And the thing is, sometimes I want what the world offers.  I was writing that in my journal because of a small problem in my personal life. I had to ask myself if Jesus is enough.  Oh, I say He is. But do I live that way?  It made me think.

How about you?  Would you rather have Jesus?  God is giving us all a chance to think of His power and of dependence on Him alone.  We can’t depend on wealth, material things, government, work, or any other temporary thing.  Praise God for His mercy.  One day Jesus will return.  One day God will bring judgment on the world.  Things like the coronavirus are just foreshadows of that final day of destruction, when all who have rejected Jesus as Christ will perish. Oh precious sisters – press on to know God and make Him known. He alone can not be shaken.  He alone holds the world in His hand. He alone can speak one little word “Enough” to stop this pandemic in it’s path.  And if He doesn’t, and chooses to let it continue to run its course — He must have a  reason!  He is Sovereign and trustworthy!  Press on — even during this pandemic!

 

Valentines Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!   I like romance and flowers and pretty things too. I do. It’s true!  (And cheesy rhymes are good today – right?!)   And yet, lately I’ve been thinking of love and of how warped the world’s view of love is.  I’ve seen afresh just how easily my own heart and feelings have been shaped by the world’s concepts, rather than God’s concepts.  Some of this is because I’m now married, and I’ve learned quickly that dating and romance are not the same as marriage and love. Lust and love are different.

 

True love is God’s love – agape love at it’s finest: selfless, pure, giving, sacrificing, a choice.  And it’s hard.  And it takes God’s love in me to be able to give it freely. It is costly.  It is constantly being shaped and refined in me.  It can not be demanded from anyone, least of all my spouse.  So it starts in my own heart, and it lets go of expectations from another.

For instance yesterday morning was Valentines Day.  I’d already discussed it earlier in the week with my husband.  We decided to go out to eat on the weekend, not Valentines Day.  He’d already said clearly that he didn’t need or want anything (even a card).  This stuff doesn’t matter to him.  I’d said I like something, something little.  Something.  This stuff matters much more to me. So yesterday morning he smiled at me and called me his Valentine and hugged me tight.  My heart swelled with feelings of being loved.  Then he said, “Is it ok then if I don’t get you flowers today, but wait until next week?”  My heart’s warm bubble burst in a second.  “Why?” I asked.  He looked at me and said slowly, “Well, to save a few bucks.”  I had an instant choice.  Love him, or demand from him.  If you know my husband, you’d know he loves me. He is generous to me, and good to me.  He also knows I like flowers, and wanted to give me some.  However, we are in a season where our income is lower than it was.  He once insisted on buying me a dress at full price, simply because I liked it.  Now he tries to limit unnecessary spending as our income has dropped, and in many ways it is him who has sacrificed the most in this area.  In an instant I decided to love him.  You see, Brad feels most loved when he feels my understanding and kindness to him.  My husband is always honest with me, and I know that Valentines day flowers are more expensive then any other day.  I know this. So I chose to respond in love.  And you know what– my heart swelled afresh with feelings of love and his heart did too! And I was fine, really fine, with just getting a sweet card from him later in the day.  I told him, “You know, if you bring me flowers, any flowers not just roses, as a surprise some day, that means more to me than 100 Valentine flowers.”  So we’ll see if some flowers are bought next week, or if they get forgotten in the manner of life.  But I’ve already determined that I love Brad regardless of if he remembers next week or not, and I’ve already determined to let it go if he forgets.

True love. God’s love.  That is what each day is for. Valentines Day is a fun day.  It’s good to remember to say we love those in our lives, and maybe give them an extra gift, or offer some exciting romance.  But it is not what makes for true love.  And when I was a single, I wanted the romance and the extra attention.  I know Valentines Day can be hard on singles, widows, those whose marriage is not good, or even those whose marriage is good and they want the extra attention but don’t get it.  Regardless, God’s love is true and was given on a cross freely.  His love can make any day, even Valentine’s Day, full of love.  But it will cost you — it will cost you the will to choose this, and that can be hard!  It helps if we are already developing the practice of being loved first by God, and giving His love away — without any demands from any other person.  Precious sisters, you are loved by God so much.  May you press on to learn to give love away everyday.

 

 

Christmas Has It’s Cradle

Merry Christmas!  We are three days away from December 25th and the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

I’ve struggled a bit with holidays lately.  Marriage brings differences between individual’s ideas of a holiday, family traditions, and the challenge of making new traditions and blending old, or even doing away with some things!  I didn’t realize how much I liked the traditions of my childhood and family, until they were no longer constant in my life. And this challenge for me didn’t happen until I married.  I was the last of three children to marry, and when my siblings married, they were not always home, but it didn’t bother me as much because I could still go home and be with my parents and the familiar.  When I married and there became two families to visit and divide time between, and travel included more than me and my schedule, and gift giving and budgets became involved in more than just me and my way of doing things, I had to learn to be a part of new traditions and change expectations.  And it was hard!

I finally understood this year (after 4 years of marriage) that this is probably hard on my parents too!  All this change and kids spread out! (Sorry Mom and Dad! Thanks for going through the adjusting process too!)

I haven’t done as much baking as I used to. I made a total of 46 cookies this year! That is 30 of those pretzel rolo bites, and 16 pecan goody cups.  Not a lot of baking, and not very time consuming!  But it was fun to do, and fun to do while listening to Christmas music! And I needed something to make it “feel” Christmasy!

Today I was thinking of our upcoming Bible Study, which is going to be studying the death and resurrection of Jesus.  I begin to think of a song we used to sing at church that talked about the cross and the cradle and how Christmas has a cradle but the cradle points to the cross.  I decided to look it up. Sort of like O Come O Come Emmanuel this hymn is somber and rich with meaning.  The following are the words:

It is called Christmas Has It’s Cradle and it was written by Rae E. Whitney.

Christmas has its cradle
Where a Baby cried.
Did the lantern’s shadow
Show Him crucified?
Did He foresee darkly
His life’s willing loss?
Christmas has its cradle
And Easter has its cross.

Christmas has its cradle
Shepherds came to see
Little Son of Mary
Lamb of God to be.
Had His Father warned Him
None would grant Him room?
Save in the Christmas cradle
And in the Easter tomb.

Christmas has its cradle
Wise men came to bring
Myrrh and gold and incense
Off’rings for a King.
Myrrh alone stayed with Him
Death’s balm for this Boy
From the Christmas cradle
And to His Easter joy.

Christmas has its cradle
Where that Baby cried.
In the Easter garden
Christ lay crucified.
When death’s pow’r was conquered
God’s life through Him poured.
Christmas has its cradle
And Easter has its Lord.

 

I’m excited to start studying the death and resurrection of Jesus directly as the new year approaches, and as the Christmas season fades.  Each Christian needs a fresh reminder of Jesus’ death and resurrection at this season when, “For unto you this day is born, in the city of David, a Savior. He is Christ the Lord” is read and reread.  Why?  Because we are celebrating the birthday of Jesus.  Jesus, the Savior.  How does Jesus save us?  Well, He was born of a virgin.  The inherent sin of man wasn’t in Him for He was not of man’s seed.  He was the Son of God.  He took on flesh and dwelt among us.  Thirty some years later, He was crucified on a cross because of blaspheme – claiming to be God’s Son.  When He was crucified He took on the sins of all mankind.  He traded His sinlessness for humanity’s sin.  Because He, the sinless Son of God, was crucified all humanity can accept this gift freely given, and trade their sin for the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  But it only is good because of the resurrection of Jesus.  All religious leaders have been born of man.  Only Jesus is God’s Son.  All religious leaders have died.  “Dead, Dead, Dead!” Dr Youseff says. Only Jesus was raised to life.  For He had accomplished taking humanity’s place and bearing the wrath of God over human sin.  He took it, He faced the punishment.  He rose to life.  And those who accept Jesus as Savior and ask Him to take their sin, are acknowledging that Jesus came to earth, died on a cross for the remission of sin, and rose again and will come again in victory one day soon!

Oh precious sisters – Merry Christmas! “For unto you this day is born, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!”

God Is:

 

I  have a husband who loves hymns!  He listens to them and hums them a lot!  This summer I happened to hear one that he was listening to, that I’d never heard before, and it was super catchy.  I found myself singing the one line I had heard over and over and over. We went on a little weekend trip, and Brad started humming that song.  I asked him to teach it to me.  He said it is just a chorus that his church used to use to tie hymns together, and it goes like this:

 

 

Let’s talk about Jesus–

The King of kings is He,

The Lord of lords supreme–

Through all eternity.

The Great I Am, the Way,

The Truth, The Life, The Door.

Let’s talk about Jesus more and more!

Love it!  I find myself singing it often lately.  Another line of a song I’ve come to learn through my husband is, “In times like these, you need an anchor.  Be very sure your anchor holds and grips the solid Rock.”

I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the speaker said in trials of life we need two anchors.  She said boats in a stormy sea actually need two anchors so to tether the boat so it doesn’t pull against one anchor and eventually snap the anchor with all it’s thrashing.  She noted that in stormy seasons of life the two anchors that have tethered her are: God is good and God is Sovereign.

I find that lately I have been repeating some lists of names of God I’ve noted in my recent quiet times.  When life is stormy, uncertain and we don’t see the goodness around us –rather we see the evil, the trials, and the hardships — these are the times we need an anchor.  His name is Jesus.  Jesus says He is the exact representation of God.  God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the three aspects of our Triune God.  Our God that is an amazing God!  The more I dwell on who God is, and what He does, the more peace floods my soul.  Peace that the world –and my life- is in God’s control.

Do you need an anchor today?  Here is a list for you.  As I read through Isaiah recently I made a list of the names of God listed just in this book.  I challenge you to say out loud  — God is:

  • The Holy One
  • The High and Exalted One
  • The Almighty One
  • The Maker and Creator
  • The Righteous One
  • The Majestic One
  • The Upright One
  • The God of  Truth
  • The King
  • The Lawgiver and Judge
  • The Defense for the helpless, needy, and distressed
  • The Teacher
  • The Potter
  • The Father
  • The Lord God of Hosts
  • The Refuge
  • The Rock
  • The Savior
  • The Lord God
  • Jesus: The Everlasting Father, The Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace

Dear sisters — let’s talk about Jesus more and more!  Our God is our anchor in every day life.  He is good.  He is Sovereign.  He is our Counselor, our Defense and Refuge when we are needy and helpless.  He is the Lord God of Hosts, and everything is in His control!  Praise God!  May you press into all He is today, in whatever season you are facing.  He loves you so much!