The Land of the Living

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The Land of the Living

If you are reading this today, this is where we are. Another day in the land of the living. Another cup of coffee, another reaching for the Word and journal. Another day with the chime of a text, or a workout, or a shower. Maybe…

 diapers to change,

breakfast to make for your people,

taking your kids to school,

appointments to attend,

your job to show up to,

or whatever,

because there’s just another day to get through.

“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the LORD.” Psalm 27:13-14

My Study Bible has a footnote that the command to wait should be translated to “wait in faith.” We can either faint… or exercise faith. Faint… or faith? The choice is ours. As long as we are in the land of the living we must have faith. And this faith is certainly not in ourselves. If we put faith in ourselves alone, we will have to be scraped off the floor.

What if we thought that another day in the land of the living was another day full of opportunities to make our lives an example of what a truly abundant life looks like. Why is it that sometimes we have to experience the threat of not being here, in the land of living, before we truly appreciate life? That we look at those things that are mundane and “for someone else” as something we just “have” to do, instead of things we are privileged to do.

I’ve lost some of my people this past week; two godly ladies from my church passed over to Heaven. A little child was hit by a car in front of the restaurant I visited over the weekend. His cries in his mother’s arms were a testimony that he was still in the land of the living. But just think of how close, how quickly he could have passed over. I lost a brother, and a friend that I shared my growing up years with, way too soon. We all have such losses.

Yet we have such promises that death does not have the final say: read them – out loud, hear the hope!

“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.” Isaiah 25:8

“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:54

“O death where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” 1 Corinthians 15:55

Have you read the end of the story concerning death? Revelation 20:14 says “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire…”

Jesus tells us, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)  Comfort, along with all the other blessings showered into our lives, only comes in the land of the living. In the brave hearts that trust God to give good things because that is what He is and what He does. We mourn and we can mourn and cry out and lament to Him because this is what we do. And He exchanges it all for comfort. Because that is what He gives.

I realize this is heavy, hard stuff and I won’t pretend to have the answers, but the Lord is teaching me that while I am in the land of the living I have to live this life with my faith in Jesus Christ. And I have to wait for Him in faith, so I don’t faint under the burdens of knowing that there are sorrows to face, battles to fight, pains to endure, and people that I may find hard to love and serve placed in my path. That I have to look for the goodness of God in all of it. I face none of it alone and what I receive from living in obedience is always way above and beyond what effort I put into it. If there were a scale of the hardships I think I face and the goodness of God through it all, it would be so tipped in God’s favor.

I would just have to say “Thank you Lord, for giving me another day in the land of the living.”

The Bottom of the Purse

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The Bottom of the Purse

This little angelic face, my great-grandson, just stares at me. A frantic grandma because the minutes are ticking away and I need to be somewhere. I missed another deadline. Plus the baby is all strapped in the carseat, in a hot humid garage. And I can’t find my keys.

I’m thinking he is to blame because you see, several times already today I have caught him putting things in my trash can. It’s cool because you step on this pedal and the lid comes up. This thing is magical to an almost 20 month-old. I have already retrieved several Rubbermaid container lids, my water decanter for my coffee maker, and various other things he sneaked in there when I wasn’t looking.

 So I call those waiting on me and tell them I lost my keys, again, take this little sweetheart out of the car and start going through the trash. But to no avail. I can’t find those darn keys. My husband comes in and he takes his little mag light and looks under the furniture, goes through the toy box. If would be funny; if it wasn’t so “unfunny” (is that even a word?) at the time.

Finally, I decide to go through my purse, again. There at the bottom, in a secret place I put them for safe keeping, are my keys. Why? What even? I tell myself I would have probably been in an accident with this sweet babe if I left the house when I planned to. We don’t know these things.

I remember a song that Amy Grant sang in the 80’s called “Angels Watching Over Me.” The lyrics cause us to consider how God intervenes in ways we have no clue the reason for. She sings, “a wreckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way.” So instead of boiling over when we are kept from our best thought out plans, we need to trust Him more. That there is a reason for the lost keys, the lack of finances, the missed opportunities that we believed were for our good. Even when we can’t see it.

“For He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Psalm 91:11

I prayed, “God, you know where my keys are, so please, could you just tell me now?” I love what Alisa Keaton, from Revelation Wellness says, “God never says no, He says “I have something better.”” We don’t like “no.” We wouldn’t ask for something if we were looking forward to the “no” answer. It can be difficult because we don’t always find out what the “something better” is. I can tell you that there have been things I have asked for, that if God had granted them, it would have meant true disaster for me. He had something better. And He has something better for you. Whether or not He has to detain you from an appointment or cause you wait for the right person to marry. He is always good in His decisions.

The bottom of your purse is not your enemy. It is a good hiding place, but it is not your enemy. Mine sometimes holds coins, cracker crumbs, old sticks of gum when I’m dying for some. It’s a treasure house! Just what have you discovered in the bottom of your purse that you found at just the right time? And on this particular day, it hid my keys, maybe next time, it will be the first place I look.

“Angels Watching Over Me”

 

“Take this man to prison,” the man heard Herod say,
And then four squads of soldiers came and carried him away.
Chained up between two watchmen, Peter tried to sleep,
But beyond the walls an endless prayer was lifting for his keep.
Then a light cut through the darkness of a lonely prison cell,
And the chains that bound the man of God just opened up and fell,
And running to his people before the break of day,
There was only one thing on his mind, only one thing to say:

Angels watching over me, every move I make,
Angels watching over me!
Angels watching over me, every step I take,
Angels watching over me!

God only knows the times my life was threatened just today.
A reckless car ran out of gas before it ran my way.
Near misses all around me, accidents unknown,
Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home.
But I know they’re all around me all day and through the night.
When the enemy is closing in, I know sometimes they fight
To keep my fight from falling, I’ll never turn away.
If you’re asking what’s protecting me then you’re gonna hear me say:

Got his angels watching over me, every move I make,
Angles watching over me!
Angels watching over me, every step I take,
Angels watching over me

Angels watching over me
Angels watching over me

Got his angels watching over me, every move I make,
Angels watching over me!
Angels watching over me, every step I take,
Angels watching over me!

Angels watching over me,
Angels watching over me,
Angels watching over me,
Angels watching over me!

Though I never see with human eyes the hands that lead me home

Songwriters: ELLIOTT B. BANNISTER,GARY W CHAPMAN,AMY GRANT GILL,MICHAEL WHITAKER SMITH
© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC,Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.,Universal Music Publishing Group,CAPITOL CHRISTIAN MUSIC GR

 

Shards of Glass, Bare Feet and Birthdays

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Shards of Glass, Bare Feet and Birthdays

When the plates slid out of my hands, I knew this wouldn’t end well. Instead of taking the extra time to put them, one at a time, in the cupboard, I had four in one hand. Not realizing that the plate on the bottom was held with my fingers and the plate on the top was held securely with my thumb, but the two plates in the middle had no other recourse but to succumb to the law of gravity and slip down, shattering on the counter top first and into smaller shards when they hit the floor. Where I stood in my bare feet.

The sound was crazy loud but my husband was oblivious, taking his shower in the master bath. No, I was on my own with this one. In a dangerous mess of my own making. Thankfully, I was standing on a rug in front of the sink and after turning the end of it up and over on itself, had a safe place to stand. By dividing and conquering one area at a time, I cleaned up the mess, but I know I’ll never find that old Corelle pattern anywhere to replace those “unbreakable” plates.

Why am I in such a hurry all the time? Why can’t I just slow down and do things the right, slower-paced  way? As I learn another lesson from life, I can get pretty harsh on myself. Did God make me this way for a reason?

Long ago, when I was borrowing my mother-in-law’s vehicle, I got a speeding ticket. It was one of those “grandma” cars, large and long. Hardly any road noise and a smooth, sheltered ride. You could easily be going faster than you thought you were. Anyway, the policeman didn’t give me a break because of that excuse. I was so upset by that ticket and the cost to our young family that I had to find a verse to slow me down. I need to revisit that today.

“Also, it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, it is not good; and he sins who hastens with his feet.” Proverbs 19:2

James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family Ministries, said in one of his radio broadcasts that the Proverbs were not promises per se, but probabilities. Kind of like true statements that describe consequences that are most likely to happen if we do certain things. Now every time someone hurries, he is not necessarily sinning. But it is highly likely that he or she is not thinking as well as he or she would be if they were not in a hurry.

I’m weird, I know, but I love to do dishes. There’s something about the warm water and soap and seeing results so quickly. And glass is so beautiful as the water chases the suds into the sink leaving it as beautiful as the day it was made. But just as quickly, it is used again and the doing needs done again and I just want it over with.

BUT…

I did not have to put away those plates like it was a competition. Let’s see, how fast can you put the dishes away? Seriously? Just how fast could I have left that room in bare feet with glass all around if someone needed me?

I needed to be reminded that there will always be more to do and the more I do of the mundane without taking the time to think about how everything should be done for the glory of God, I lose.

  • I lose the glory of how wonderful it is to work with my hands; there are many who are not able to move and do like they wish.
  •  I lose the glory of remembering the food God provided for me to enjoy on those plates; He has always provided for all my needs.
  • I lose the glory of the freedom I enjoy to do what I want when I want in my own home; there are many woman who have had to leave their homes because of illness or aging.
  •  I lose plates, literally.

“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

There is really nothing we can do with time. It passes. We can’t make more of it or take it and save it for later, or bend it to suit our needs. It is a gift to use for His glory.

Today is my birthday, and as I write this I pray for wisdom to choose rightly those things that are really worth the time they take. Because, on this earth, we all have a limited amount of it. I pray to not sin by hastening through life like “she who checks off the most tasks wins.” I ask God to cause me to see reasons in doing things, over and over. And just how to get through a birthday without crying about another year…gone, but rejoicing over another year full of blessings.

 

 

 

Lasterday…

Nature_Disc_Golf-9[305]Photo by Melanie Lamb

Lasterday…

All of us grandmas know how endearing those words are that our grandkids have coined when they hear a word differently and, trying to make sense of it, say it their own way. Little Lilly tells me things that happened “lasterday” when we were apart and I love it. It will be sad when she just says “yesterday” like everyone else.

And there are those “rainbrellas” that you use when the skies open up and pour the rain. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Words matter and putting them together in the right way can make all the difference in how they are perceived by the reader or listener.

There are many ways to communicate with one another and today the preferred method seems to be texting. I’m not knocking it, I love it too. It’s great to be able to get a message to a person that they can answer at their own convenience, yet it can also be so misunderstood. People of my generation have had to learn so many new things and have had to adapt to so many different ways to communicate and obtain information.

Next time you see one of us with this troubled look on our faces when we are using our phones or computers, have mercy.

Sometimes I just yearn for lasterday. When we had to hear one another’s voices, in real time. When we could know if they “hesitated” when asked for help or honest answers. When we could hear fear, or lack of confidence, or just plain out annoyance or maybe real joy in just hearing from us.

But yet, we have emojis. Some of these I understand, and some I wonder about and am afraid to use. Maybe they don’t mean to someone else what they mean to me and they misunderstand and get offended? I said something over the weekend. An “uncool” word that really wasn’t intended to be such when I said it. I feel awful now because I wouldn’t want to offend anyone for the world. But now I know and will try to communicate better. So much to learn.

I guess I really don’t want to go back to lasterday in some ways. Because we are doing better, or trying to, in our current, kindness-seeking culture. And I don’t like to be melancholy about the “good old days” because they were not always good. Just suggest maybe that we take the time to put the phone down when someone comes face-to-face, because Facebook can wait. Call, when a text could be misunderstood and maybe even write a letter that someone can keep forever. Like we used to have to do, “lasterday.”

And I just can’t finish this post without mentioning the most beautiful love letter written to mankind. O how much I love the truth of God’s Word. How grateful I am that His Words have been written down and preserved for thousands of years and are still as fresh and true today as when they were penned. Some of the cultural meanings have to be studied out, but the truths are unchanged. How could a book written over a period of 1400 – 1800 years, by more than 40 different authors stay true to the theme of redemption through Christ? Only because it is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. For more facts about the origin and inspiration of the Bible see http://www.allabouttruth.org.

Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Or as Lilly would say “…the same lasterday, today and forever.”) Aren’t you thankful for this?

I know I am (smile emoji).

“Never Forget Anyone That You Love”

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This a line from a “kids” movie. And I can’t believe I’m bawling like a baby. But what this young boy said to his class, at the end of the movie, is so true “he taught me that you should never forget anyone that you love.” This is one of the last scenes in the movie “Hachi.” It is the story of a very loyal dog. It is based on a true story of this faithful friend that waited at the train station for his owner for over 9 years. Until the day of his death Hachi watched for his master because he never got off that train after dying of cardiac arrest at work one day.

Today is Memorial Day, a day for remembering. Not that we don’t do it all through the year, but today is especially poignant for me. You see today is my late brother’s birthday, and Memorial Day at the same time. Whenever I’m in a place where tears come too easy and I am longing for my heavenly home, I want to visit his grave. Not that he is really there, just his body underneath, yet it is one of the most peaceful places on this earth to me. He “rests” there.

I remember him as one of the sweetest souls on earth. Not just because he was my brother, but because he truly was. He was a good man, who tried his best to serve his God and his family, and when his time was short, he was full of gratitude for his life of 53 years and a few months. He suffered much and left quietly. There is great comfort knowing that he is in heaven, enjoying his reward. That is how it is for those who know Jesus as their personal Savior.

Memorial Day was first declared a day to remember our fallen soldiers. Those that died protecting our freedoms. I am so grateful for them as well. So thankful for those who continue to serve without knowing if they will have to make that sacrifice. Not knowing if they will return home to their loved ones. My son-in-law experienced this. He returned from a year of deployment just a short time ago and we are all so grateful that he was protected during those days on the other side of the world.

Some of you reading this may have lost a loved one during military service, or a loved one because of illness or injury, or maybe because they just “wore out.” It hurts the same. Remembering them is the best thing you can do. Remember their voice, their smile, their touch. Their faith. By remembering, we still are connected to them. They continue to have an influence on our lives and we can experience comfort from that.

One scripture that comforts me when I just don’t think I can quit crying is this:

“Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!””

Lamentations 3:22-24

Because God is merciful, He will keep all that sorrow from consuming us. We do not have to lose hope or joy. The prophet that penned this book in the Old Testament was Jeremiah. He had a heavy burden, he was in a place of heavy persecution, yet he had hope. And so do we.

Jeremiah remembers:

“My soul still remembers and sinks within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.”  (vs. 20-21) and “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him. To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” (vs. 25-26)

The promise of heaven and being reunited with those we loved here on earth is our hope. Meanwhile, remember them, wait patiently for the time when you will be with them again. And be thankful, because great is His faithfulness.

Never Sew on Sunday?

 

“There’s a needle clear through my finger!” All I could do was think it, dramatically, because I had laryngitis and couldn’t scream. I was home alone, thought I could sew something up real quick and in my haste, caught my index finger with my sewing machine needle. Dumb, huh? Thankfully, it stalled the machine before it caught the thread from the bobbin and, well, that would have been even more awful.

My mind raced, I can’t call anyone because I can’t talk. Anyway, I left my cell phone upstairs. As blood fills my nailbed there is only one solution. I’ve got to reverse the mechanism and pull my finger free. I am brave, I can do this! It didn’t want to let go, but I took the machine wheel and backed it out. Went to the sink and flushed it and flushed it with cold water. After the bleeding stopped, the throbbing started.

My mind went back to when I was little and my mom passed down something her mother had warned her about, “Never sew on Sunday.” “Is that in the Bible?” I asked. I don’t remember her answer but my mother held to that rule like it was the eleventh commandment.

Do I need to tell you when I did this, it happened on a Sunday morning? Since I couldn’t talk, I had someone cover my Sunday School class for me and was home, trying to do something that I thought couldn’t wait. Pretty typical for me. Such a sinner. I was sick, I should be resting, but here I am, trying to be productive. Sorry Lord, lesson learned.

Truth is, we do need a day of rest. God gave us a gift when He gave us the Sabbath. Whether yours is Sunday or any other day of the week, you need to take it. Jesus addressed the Sabbath with this:

“And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath:” Mark 2:27

God rested on the seventh day from all His creating as an example for us that one day out of seven should be a rest day. A pattern that is good to follow. One of the Ten Commandments is “remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8) He goes on to explain the specifics in Exodus 20:10-11. Now in 31:15, the consequences of not keeping it were pretty steep – death – and I am thankful that Jesus clarified it for us when He came.

We should not forget to “keep it holy.” As we keep this day, we should also remember that it is an opportunity to devote ourselves to God, worship, pray and give Him our undistracted attention. You may recognize the consequences experienced for not keeping a Sabbath, such as exhaustion; physical, emotional, and spiritual because it is for our good that we keep it. We need it!

As a nurse, there were many Sundays that I had to work, illness and injury do not take a Sabbath! So it was for my good that I took another day of the week to just chill. Do the things I love and rest. Read an meditate on the Word of God. It was for my good that I did it.

Some folks always work on our so-called “Sabbath.” For Pastors and others that serve on Sundays, I believe they should take another day of the week to relax. Don’t feel guilty about it. God designed it for you!  And go ahead and sew a little on that day, if that relaxes you. Just keep your fingers out of the path of the needle!

 

The Turkey in the Elder-Beerman Bag

 

I don’t think the bag that brought home my bargains from Elder-Beerman’s “going out of business” sale had any idea that one day it would be holding my husband’s prize turkey kill. Neither did I. Not that I think that shopping bags can “think.” But that task was something that it certainly wasn’t designed to do. And the evidence was all through my refrigerator!

Turkey blood had seeped out of the bag, onto the shelf, which ran down into the vegetable and meat drawers and definitely wasn’t what I wanted to face first thing that morning. I believe in “reuse, repurpose and recycle,” but this was not a good idea my dear man.

He waited and waited, patiently and daily, in the early mornings for this bird. Up before the crack of dawn to take his place and listen for the “gobble, gobble.” The morning he finally caught this big guy found even me excited and taking pictures to send our sons. If you have a hunter in your life, you know the inexplicable, in my opinion, joy they receive when they have, at long last, harvested the reward of their efforts. I don’t understand it, but I don’t have to. He didn’t understand the joy I felt when I brought home the bargains in that same bag a few weeks prior. Ahh, the differences in “us.”

I like to take home lessons from life experiences, and I am not sure what this one is. Maybe next time, I’ll follow through from taking the pictures to “Now where are you going to put this and in what?” Another lesson might be that even though something might “work” for a purpose that it was not designed to do, think about it, carefully. Would the “fail” have consequences and how many and how long would it take to clean them up?

We, as God’s children, were designed, created and called for one purpose:

“Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” Isaiah 43:7

This place where I post my life-lessons is called “Glory Renewed” because I have a special relationship with the Lord, my God. He designed me, He created me, He called me for the purpose of giving Him glory. When I use myself to do anything other than that, there are consequences. I have to repent and turn away from sin and turn toward things that bring Him glory, every, single, day.

Your relationship with God is just as special. He designed you, He created you and He called you for the purpose of giving Him glory.

Let’s pray: My Father God, thank You for creating me for a purpose and I ask You humbly, please, cause me to live every day to bring you glory. Amen