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Have you ever been homesick? That awful feeling in the pit of your stomach. That longing for a familiar place where you just belong?

I had to stop by her house today to retrieve some items she asked me to bring her. I thought I could do it without crying, but I couldn’t. She should still be there. She should have been able to stay until He took her home to paradise and I am so disappointed in that. Everywhere I turn, I see her there. Cooking in her kitchen, getting dressed in her bedroom, fixing her hair in her bathroom, watching her television in her living room, playing cards with her friends at her dining room table.

But it wasn’t to be. These bodies fail us, eventually. Sometimes we have to move on to places of someone else’s choosing so that we can be cared for when we can no longer care for ourselves. All of this may be my future and I certainly wouldn’t want anyone crying about it. So I wipe my eyes and head out. Locking the door behind me and loading her reminders of home in my car to deliver to her now “home.”

She greets me with a smile and I realize that she seems to be having a really good day today. She wants me to meet a neighbor down her hallway and she tells me that a church group came to sing today and she enjoyed it. I still want to cry.

Does it ever “get” you this way? When you witness someone being so brave and accepting, which is how you would hope they would be, and it makes you sad. Because you wish it didn’t have to be this way.

God knows and understands. Can you even imagine how hard it was for Him to send us His Son? To take Him from the paradise of Heaven and have Him take on flesh and be fully human while still being fully God? To have to feel what we feel and worse?

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I know that the circumstances I just described could be so much worse, but still, they hurt. I am reminded that no matter how “wonderful” things are here in our own little worlds, they will never satisfy the ache in our hearts for our forever home.

“Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid, you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself that where I am there you may be also.” John 14:1-3

Little farther on in John 14:27, Jesus says:

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Could it be this dear lady has peace about where she is and what she is doing because it is the kind the world cannot give? I am sure this is so. And His peace will comfort the ache in my heart also, when things are not the way I wish they would be. And maybe every now and then I need to be reminded that the disappointments that we direct at God, should only be to handed over to Him for healing.

If Jesus could endure His cross, looking at the joy that was set before Him, (Hebrews 12:2), I can choose to see what hurts in this life as an endurance test and look forward to the next. There is nothing, no thing, that can separate us from the love of God, (Romans 8:38-39), and isn’t the love of God the only thing that matters? This is the joy, His love that never ends. His love that leads us home.

 

My Cup Overflows

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Sometimes it feels like I’m a turtle, crossing the road. I hate the slowing down part of my journey. I’ve always had a quick pace. Not that this was always good, because at times, it was not. But, it was familiar and I like familiar.

I like the shortcut, the faster route, and the quick results. Again, not always good. As I studied this turtle in my driveway, head lifted high, extremities out of its shell, vulnerable, I saw myself. I try to venture out in this vehicle of a blog, into the vast openness of social media with my meager offering of words for souls. I carry around my shell for protection. I return to it for a while but know I cannot stay there forever. I have to share what I have been given and receive from others what nourishes me.

Never before can a person think they know how important they are. The “likes” and positive or negative “comments” validating their influence. It takes a hard shell to keep plodding along. Keep plodding along sisters. Put something out there and don’t check how it’s doing. Do it just because He led you to and trust Him for the eyes to see it and the souls to be touched and made a little bit stronger because of it. Resist the urge to word and re-word, just trust that God will use the words for good.

God is showing me that as I slow down, what I have to offer actually has more value. It comes with years of experience of living life with Him as my Lord. Since a little girl, He has been with me. Using every bit of my story to bring Him glory. The mishaps, the victories, all of it. To give wisdom.

Proverbs 3:17:

“Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace”

That turtle is on a peaceful path. Not without danger, because anyone in a hurry and distracted could crush her in an instant. And so am I. If I pay attention to what the world has to say about today’s Christian women, I can be hurt badly. Our culture is sadly post-Christian. Even many who claim to be Christians do not hold to the teachings in God’s Word, the Bible. But this does not change the Truth and I am commanded to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:14-15)

Tears of deep joy run down, He fills and my cup overflows. He turns “you are bad” into “you are beloved” dear ones. Because it is true. The truest words you will ever hear come from Him. He has chosen you, and made you His. (Ephesians 1:4-5)

Someone reading this may be afraid that what they say won’t make a difference. Don’t believe that; God will sort all of that out. He can use anything for our good and His glory. Venture out of your shell, reach out and be blessed.

Glorious Day!

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Glorious Day!

This post may be my last “solo” one, and it is fitting that it reflects on Easter, a celebration of the resurrection of our Savior. From my heart, I can only pour out gratitude for the grace that the Lamb of God gave with such a cost to Himself. So that our salvation could be a free gift for us to accept.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

For God so loved, He gave. He could have held on to His glory. His place in the heavens and said “no.” But because of his great love, He was obedient to the plan of His Father, to redeem us and set us free. (Luke 22:42)

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Photo Credit: Emily Bonnette Hendershot

“There is therefore now no condemnation … For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1 and 2.) Jesus took the condemnation, so we would not have to. The condemned couple that had to leave the garden no longer determines my fate. My eternity is redeemed, my place is secured, just as if I was already there. Not because of anything I have done, all I needed to do was receive this, trust this finished act of His love. (John 19:30, Titus 3:5)

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of the inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14.

Yes, He paid an awful price. Physical, emotional torture. The weight of sin, all sin, placed on Him. His Father turning from the sight of it all. Taking it all to Hell. Where it could be conquered once and for all. Once. For all.

Scripture tells us of a woman, another “Mary” knowing full well that her loving Lord was dead because she had seen this with her own eyes. She comes to His grave and finds the stone, rolled away, the tomb empty. She runs, and tells the men and they came too. They had to see it for themselves. Then, Glorious Day!, Jesus, very much alive, speaks to Mary, asks her why she is crying, and she turns, and there He is. This account is so exciting! Such fitting words in the last verse of John, chapter 20 –

“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

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Photo Credit: Melanie Lamb
Life! Fresh new life! Embrace Easter. All the new life of it. Believe in it, Trust in it, Rejoice in it! Make it a new start for you, looking forward to that Glorious Day when you see Him face to face. Glory Renewed.

 

 

Better and More

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Better and More

“There doesn’t have to be choice!” Jim Craig says to Jessica Harrison in “Return to Snowy River.” One of my all-time favorite movies. Let me describe the scene. Jessica loves Jim and wants to marry him, but her father, a very strong-willed, self-made man, thinks that Jim is not worthy of his daughter. Mr. Harrison tells Jessica, “it’s me or him Jess” (or something like that) but Jim pleads that it doesn’t have to be that way. I don’t want to spoil the outcome if you’d like to watch it, but just so you’ll know for this illustration, Jim is right.

There will always be the debate over whether quality or quantity is the better when it comes to time and the heart, but I believe they are pretty much at a dead heat. Time is important because we have to live and work in this restraint, so quality has to be right there with it because this keeps the quantity worth it. It redeems the quantity of what is spent on anything or anyone. Time is like a currency that we all have a pre-determined by God amount of. So whatever uses our time, must in a sense be worthy of it. No one’s time should be more important than the others. We all need to make our time matter because it most certainly does. Don’t “kill” time. “Live” time.

Shouldn’t anything we do that is worthwhile be done better and more? Don’t you want more time to do the things that feed your soul and bless others? Is there a way to make all that your life entails holy and good?

These are my new goals. I want to love God and others better and more. I want to trust God better and more.  I want to follow Jesus better and more and this requires quality and quantity. My best and my most.

Oswald Chambers’ devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, comes to mind. I have been through this devotional several times and that statement, which is the title, should be mine. Every, single day. This man, passing to glory at the age of 43 said this:

“Shut out every other consideration and keep yourself before God for this one thing only – My Utmost for His Highest. I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and for Him alone.” (Oswald Chambers, 1874-1917)

This man didn’t sequester himself in a monastery so that “normal” life would not distract him from this purpose. He was married, became a father and served as a chaplain in the military in Egypt. That is about as much of the “real world” as you can live in. He followed Jesus example of going to the public with who He was and is and will forever be.

No matter what is going on around us, our relationship with God is the most important. It is what we should give quality and quantity to, be better and more for. There doesn’t have to be a choice it is a command for our good and His glory. The only choice we need to make is to run our own race. The race He has created us for. And run it with the most honest effort we can muster.

Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NKJV)

Glitter in the Rug

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Glitter in the Rug

I love to make sparkly things for my granddaughters. As they get older they don’t go for that much, but my four-year-old one, Lilly, loves them. I just finished up a sparkly tutu for her and I’ve vacuumed glitter for days.

There’s this ugly rug in my sewing/workout room. Mainly gray and black fibers, designed to hide dirt. But it can’t hide the glitter! As I glance across it, those sparkly particles reflect light and remind me of what we are to be in this world as followers of Jesus. In the world but not of it. Reflecting Light, being Light in places that would be dark, dismal, hiding dirt. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

A small child is such a gift. They are the perfect example of the child-likeness that Christ says we should never lose. And four-year old ones are my favorites. They are old enough to communicate their thoughts and feelings. Old enough to kind-of reason with. And young enough that their imaginations have not yet been tainted by the world. If you have one in your life, you are blessed indeed. If they are loved and nurtured correctly, they have no limits to what they can contribute to our world. No wonder Jesus gave such a stern admonition to anyone who would harm them. (Matthew 18:6)

That glitter in the rug reminds me of how I am a child of God. I’m in a temporary place right now and I am to sparkle for Him. Stand out, be set apart for Him. (Psalm 4:3) I can’t tell you how much I’ve failed at that lately.  I know He loves me the same, but I hope to do better and am thankful that He has given me another chance to reflect His glory. (Matthew 5:16)

The following list is how I hope to get my sparkle on for Jesus:

1.       Start each and every day with a song. Hum it, sing it, pull it up on my ipad for background music:  get a melody going in my mind about His goodness. (Psalm 96)

2.       Go back to list making. Just a few items of “have-to-dos,” so there are no regrets about missed appointments or overdue bills. More items of “get-to-dos,” things to do that keep me healthy and happy and child-like. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8:6)

3.       Memorize more scripture. The power of the Word of God has been the greatest transformer in my life. I could never get enough.  (Hebrews 4:12, Psalm 119:162)

It is a fault of mine that I want the list to be longer. That it will become my boss and I would eventually rebel against it, so I am determined to keep it short and see how just 3 commitments can get my sparkle back.

This is kind of a confession post. I have done and said things lately that have made me see that my testimony has not been what I would hope it would be for Jesus. He deserves better than that from me and I am sorry. My patience has been short, my words rather sharp. I repent. His Spirit is my Keeper. He stands at the gate of my life and reveals what should be going in and coming out. I am very thankful for this.

Dear reader, maybe you are right where you should be with Him, maybe you need to make a list of 3 new commitments of your own. I would love it if you would share them in the comments. I will be praying for you.

 

Genesis…Beginnings

 

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Genesis…Beginnings

Could I start my New Year today? I haven’t done the greatest since January 1. Last night, I couldn’t sleep and the only thing that felt right was to get the Book. And read. Genesis. “In the beginning God…” (Genesis 1:1) All those verses that start, “And God said…” “And God saw…” “And God called…” “And God made…” “And God Created…“And God blessed…” “And the LORD God commanded…” It was so exciting to go back there. Where God is absolutely first.

He is first. There was NOTHING but Him, and because He was, there is all this.

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrews 11:3

Again, “And God said…” (Genesis 1:3) He speaks things into existence. And then, on the sixth day, His last day of work in creating, He speaks “…Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:..” (Genesis 1:26) An image is “a representation or replica of one person or thing by another.” (The King James Study Bible, Thomas Nelson)

Every one of us, every baby that is ever conceived, carries His image. Every newborn’s eyes you gaze at or every aged one’s face you behold, that may be living their last days, carries His image. No matter who, no matter what their history, they are made in the image of God. They represent the crowning glory of His creation because He made nothing else in His image. Just us.

He made us for fellowship with Him. To be spiritual companions that He could bless and enjoy forever. Now we messed that up big time as is recorded in Genesis 3. But God refused to give up on us. His love story continues through every, single, book in the Bible. His Son, Jesus, would come and be our Redeemer (Isaiah 53) and He will come back for us (Matthew 29:31, 1 Corinthians 15: 51-52) and we will live forever with Him in Heaven, if we would only trust Him as our Savior. (John 3:16) Just believe.

Sleep finally did take over, and it was good. This morning I wanted to share this with you dear readers. You are precious. You are made in God’s image. With the capacity to have fellowship with Him, every single minute of every single day of your journey. You were made by Him, and for Him. He delights in You! Sometimes it is good to go back to the beginning, check yourself and make absolutely sure that what you put first in your life is what you should have there. And remember, “In the beginning God…”

Happy New Year!

 

 

JOY!

 

JOY!

We’re having a bit of Advent in our family this December. Our youngest daughter is close to delivering our youngest grandchild and we are excited for many reasons. There’s something about new life, a brand-new life, that that causes wonder and awe. I look at my daughter, who looks about ready to “pop” and think of Mary on that donkey at about the same place in her pregnancy. I think of Mary’s journey to Bethlehem on that donkey and wonder at her strength and commitment to her God and her husband.

This morning I light the joy candle and rejoice in the truth that God loved me so much, He gave His best. To just think that all of this universe, and any beyond, that He has power over, and more that He could even create, could have been given to us to try again and again to get this right. To say no to that deceiving serpent, but He knew we wouldn’t. He gives us opportunities day after day to be obedient and we fail. No. We needed a Savior that could make us righteous, we could never do it ourselves. And only His Son would do.

I light the joy candle and rejoice that His mercy lasts forever. His grace never stops. His love never fails. When you practice being joyful (Galatians 5:22) you can put all the struggles, the trials, the pains and disappointments we experience in life here underneath it. They are not the most important things. They are the things that drive you to Your Savior for help, and that is a good thing. Anything that causes us to realize that this life is not under our control and authority is a good thing when we use it as an opportunity to pray more, study His Word more, worship Him more and look forward more to His return. If we do these holy practices, He rewards us with His presence and in His presence is “fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11)

Psalm 16:11

“Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”

 

I light the joy candle and rejoice, not that I stake all my faith that He actually came into our world on the date of December 25th, but because He did actually, really, come to be with us in human form. (Isaiah 7:14) God came to be with us. More than just touched by all that touches us, but wounded and crucified by it. He was able to endure this because of the power of joy.

Hebrews 12:2 says:

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

So, light a candle of joy in your heart today. Choose joy, not because everything is going the way you hoped and prayed it would, but because God loves you and knows that you need joy in your journey to your expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11-13 KJV) Call on Him, seek Him more and more this season, following the example of those wise men in Matthew, chapter 2, who “rejoiced with exceeding great joy” (verse 10).

Have a Joyful Merry Christmas!