Tuesday, November 20, 2012

When They’re Far From Home…Give Thanks

Our son called from half-way around the world. He’s called my husband a few times, but this day…he called me. Say’s he’s doing well. Recovering from a cold. Enjoying his classes. Experiencing some cultural differences. Rode a bike to town on a narrow, worn road careful to move out of the way of cars. Grateful for the care package of cookies and potato chips he can’t get over there. So many questions I want to ask but mindful of the phone bill. We talk of things over there and how things are here at home. All the while I am marveling at how this boy grew up into such an amazing young man.

Just a few days before he left on his journey, it started to sink in. I mean really sink in. This child is leaving us. And he’s not just moving across town, or across the state, but across the globe. He’s reached the age of “branching out.” He towers over his dad and me. Facial stubble testifies to post-pubescence. But wasn’t it just a short-while ago that he was still a boy? Puberty causes rapid outer growth. But is the inner-boy-turned-man prepared? Is the boy still somewhere inside this frame of a man?

Worried he’ll forget this or that. Don’t lose your passport. We mean it. Don’t forget to call. Watch your budget. Keep an eye on your laptop. Don’t lose your passport. Seriously. Don’t. Perhaps the independence will grow him out of his forgetfulness. We can hope and pray.

And next thing you know, he’s gone. It’s done. He’s over there and doing his thing. He’s all grown up. But I open his closet to reveal the truth... It was just the other day that he was a pubescent boy. What remains is an amalgamation of past youth and emerging young adult.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. - 1 Corinthians 13:11

Coats, boots, caps and knives. A favorite blanket, an RC car, a cowboy hat and lariat. Awareness wristbands and a drawer-full of too-precious-to-part-with items.

And a safety harness. My husband says, “Its for working on a roof or other elevated structures. You tie off to a bracket. The rope is for how much line it will let out before it violently jerks you to a stop just before hitting the ground. Provided you calculated correctly.” Great. Growing up sure is scary…for a mom. Breathing a prayer for safety over him and gratitude for God’s call on his life.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:14

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. - Jeremiah 29:11

Thankful God grabbed hold of this boy’s heart. Thankful for family, and church, and youth leaders that encouraged him. Thankful for God’s direction in his life. He’s grown and he’s softened as he’s matured. He has a heart for God and for people. He loves his family.

He’s turned into a thoughtful young man. Thankful he called his momma #2 from across the world. Thankful to be that momma.

Giving thanks for God’s grace and mercies; they are never ending.

Grace and Mercy to you this Thanksgiving Season...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Freedom through Forgiveness

Over time, God gave me the grace to forgive him. Truly forgive. I no longer count his sins against him. I choose not to bring them up. Not to him. Not to others. I try not to even think about it.

I also asked him to forgive me. I received a vague response that sounded positive, but I wasn’t really sure if that meant he forgave me or not. After some recent correspondence and replies with bitterness and anger, I realized that he hadn’t forgiven me. So I asked again, said I couldn’t change the past and that I was sorry. He said he forgave me, not to worry. But in the next sentences, threw my past sins back in my face…again.

As far as the east is from the west…

Into a sea of forgiveness…

And yet, as tempting as you might think it would be to throw all his past sins back in his face, I was not tempted to do so. That’s when I knew I had truly forgiven him. Forgiveness does not mean that by some miracle you forget what was done to you. It doesn’t mean you make excuses for the other person. It doesn’t mean you weren’t hurt by it. And it doesn’t mean that you reconcile instantly every time. But it does mean that we give up our right to count it against them, or to keep bringing it up, or to try and punish them in some way.

If you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. – Matthew 6:14

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32 NIV

Forgiveness is the choice of the person who has been hurt.

But… that can be hard. Hard when the other person wronged you and you forgave them. Hard when they won’t forgive you back. Hard when they continue to persecute you and wrong you.

I so much want to set the record straight. But each time I try to defend myself, the backlash gets worse. It seems the least damage happens when I just keep letting them berate, accuse and gossip about me to others. Just keep letting them get away with it.

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. – Romans 12:19

When you feel like you can’t take it anymore, and are on the verge of being crushed into the dirt…remember that God loves you. He has a future for you. He is in control.

His will be done in my life. If He deems it permissible that I be persecuted, then I must trust in God’s perfect will to work all things for good. Trust that he can reverse, correct, turn-around and heal. I will lay down my pride, and breathe fresh comfort that He has buried my guilt and that my sins are covered by his blood. The enemy has been defeated and has no claim on my life - because my life belongs to Jesus.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.” – Psalm 62:5 NIV

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Beginnings

“It’s the first day of school. Are you excited?” Furrowed brows stare back at me. Another comes bouncing into the kitchen smiling and looking very well put-together. The other is still sleepily dragging himself ready. Anxiety and dread mixed with excitement and hope for the future. What will this year bring?

One is packing boxes to move to another place nearby. Leaving the old behind and starting a new life in a new place. Hope unfolds with anticipation of the unknown. 

Another is packing for a long journey. A new adventure to an unknown land. Much anticipation. Much to learn.

One committed to serve for several years. Excitement, but surely some nervousness about the unknown as well. 

Summer vacations over and schools beginning. Overnight, the highway is crowded with more cars. It appears everyone is geared up for a new season.

So much hope in the air. The future unsure. Greater things are yet to come. Change brings opportunity. A new season unfolds for each of us. A new season to learn and grow in Him. What lies ahead? 

Remembering a famous quote, I don't know what the future holds but I know Who holds my future.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “ Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:6 (NKJV)

My hope is in you Lord - for You hold my future.

Blessings of Grace,

Friday, August 31, 2012


Summer is winding down. Temperatures are already beginning to change. A few leaves have already started to fall from some of the trees.

The last few weeks have been a welcome period of rest. A time to decompress. A time to reflect on those things which God has given me and express my thankfulness.

That I am a child of God
The comfort of His Word
His sovereignty in my life and the lives of each member of my family
His peace that covers me when I am feeling persecuted
His love that fills me when I am feeling unlovable
Warm days
Green grass, flowers, and freshly picked blueberries from the yard
The beauty of His creation

It has been a time to prepare ourselves for what is coming. Gearing up for fall. Leaves are turning colors, transitioning. School will begin soon. Some of our children are preparing for school while others are preparing to leave the nest. And a couple more leaves drop from the tree. Another is moving a little further away. Life changing decisions are imminent. Assisting those who are moving on while attending to those staying behind. So many things that seem to be of urgent importance. Conflicting schedules and priorities. Choices to be made. Seeking to balance it all. Is it even possible? Just thinking about it drains me of energy. The leaves dry and crackle and that’s how I feel. How do we manage all these transitions without wearing ourselves out - all dried up and crackled?

Our home will be shrinking in numbers. Can a house half-full feel empty? Barricading feelings of loss that are already starting to creep in. Loss of the status quo. Gone is the steady, stable and predictable. Now are the unknowns. Feeling left out and left behind and worries seep in. What will the future hold? Will they be safe? What if something happens? And where do we go from here?

The leaves turn color in preparation for what is to come. It is the ending of one season and preparation for the next. Fall begets winter and winter the spring. And the spring brings buds and blossoms and new leaves - new beginnings. A new season in life.

So the leaves that turn must drop and move on to make room for the new that is to come.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest…

Another leaf falls from the tree. And before you know it, they will all be gone.

But there is hope for the future…

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. “ Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8 (NIV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

Grace and Mercy to you,

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Return from a Respite

Our family has returned home after spending a week away in rest and relaxation. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to unplug. No tv, radio, or internet. We had our cell phones but (most) didn’t use them much. It really made me see how much time these modern-day conveniences, which are supposed to save us time, actually take up. And to really get away from routine. It was restful, relaxing, refreshing, and rejuvenating. Giving thanks for:

Getting up when it is light. Eating breakfast together.
Putting our feet in the river (or going all the way in!).
Walking the dog.
Going on bike rides.
Reading the Bible.
Peach shakes.
Spending time with family and close friends.
Taking naps when you feel like it.
Warm weather and sunshine!
Taking the kids to the water slide park.
Slowing down.
Playing Farkle in the pop-up tent.
Exploring a new city.
Reading Leviticus.
Eating snacks for dinner.
Sitting in camp chairs and talking with each other.
Going to sleep when it’s dark.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28 (NIV)

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 (NIV)

“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” Psalm 61:1-4 (NIV) 

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2 (NIV1984) 

~ Rest in His Grace

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When trials come…It is Well with My Soul

Anxiety weighs down the heart,
    but a kind word cheers it up. Prov. 12:25 (NIV) 
~ Thank you my dear friend, J, for your encouraging words and affirmations!

I am so thankful for my friend who checks in on me from time to time. And shame on me for not checking in with her more often! And this time she reaches out finds me at a time of turmoil. 

As we are preparing to get away with the family for a week, I am juggling tying up loose ends at work, family needs, and to-do lists to mark off, and teenagers and emotions, irrational appeals and moodiness, and praying for all these in our care. Praying for patience for myself and His grace to flow through us to them. When we are feeling ourselves become weaker, isn’t that when it comes? Like the lion who preys upon the weak to devour. And for me it comes in the form of personal attacks against my character. Against my own Christianity. When I feel like I am being portrayed as some awful, evil person and then I slip into the trap of believing it and start questioning who I am, my faith, my past sins and forgiveness and just what kind of Christian do I think am?

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12 (NIV)

I am reminded of who I am in Christ. I am forgiven. I have been redeemed by my heavenly father. I have been transformed and have chosen to live my life for Him. Every day, I endeavor to filter my decisions through His Word. And I remember that my life is in His hands. Even this situation. I give it over to Him and release it and trust Him to take care of it.

But it still gets me down sometimes. It’s like being on a rollercoaster. I feel down, then I take a deep breath, look up to the heavens and release it back to God. Trust in Him. Hours pass and I feel anxiety creeping back in. Or catch myself wallowing in self-pity again. Breathe a prayer. Release. Trust. Repeat, repeat, repeat. 

My friend in Christ, in whom His Word dwells richly, writes words of encouragement to me. Words that resonate with my spirit. 

The first thing that hits me is it's an attack of the enemy and I'm sure when you're feeling 'up' you see this too. I'm basing this on common sense and hopefully a little wisdom. “ Wisdom

Because she’s been there before too. 

“There have been at least a couple situations … where we learned that it was God/Holy Spirit leading the situation and guiding the circumstances … for one reason or another. We just didn't see it cause we try to find human ways of giving reason instead of just simply not having peace and being led by the HS (Holy Spirit).”

I prayed thatGod would convict me about this decision, if I am just being stubborn.  Hours later after pouring through Proverbs, my gut-check still tells me the same thing. God gave parents the natural inclination to protect our young. Keep seeking. Trust God. Use common sense and wisdom. Do not dwell on the words of those who speak ill of you. Rest in the peace of the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Giving thanks through all of this. Because through this, I am brought back to the One on whom I depend. It is through all this ugly mess that I recognize my daily hourly moment-by-moment need for Him. And His grace is sufficient each and every time. 

And these words keep singing in my head…the words written by a man who lost his son at the age of 4, was ruined financially after being a successful lawyer, lost four daughters on a ship that sunk (his wife was spared), and later lost another son. As he traveled to meet his grief-stricken wife, he wrote these words as his ship passed near where his daughters died:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,

let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed his own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
even so, it is well with my soul. 

Grace and Peace to you,

When You Need a Little Wisdom

It’s 2 am and I gradually realize I am awake. There was no sudden noise or bad dream. Just a gradual increasing of consciousness. I open my eyes but the room is still dark. I can barely make out the shape of my husband sleeping next to me, the dresser and chair. Thoughts of the past few days start flooding my mind, anxiety creeping into all the corners. Lord, I don’t want to stress about this now. Please take these thoughts from me so I can sleep. But sleep slips further out of my grasp as full consciousness takes over.

My mind hits the rewind button. My child who wants a decision from me. A decision that she “knows is from God because she feels it so strongly.” But she is young and immature in her faith. How do I explain it to her? Without discouraging her faith in God? Without crushing her spirit? That strong feelings don’t necessarily mean it’s from God. We experience a lot of strong feelings at times. Love, joy, peace, excitement, anticipation. And the other side of feelings…loneliness, sadness, anger, hatred, jealousy, and just…selfish desires. Things we really want. Maybe not bad, in themselves, but not good for us either.

Lord, I know what the answer is but she is not going to want to hear it. She is being driven by outside influences, inward needs and desires, and emotions. But I can’t make parenting decisions based on the shifting emotions of an adolescent girl. I have to make decisions based on facts, common sense and Godly wisdom. 

Father, help your daughter, this mother with Your wisdom. 

I will my tired body up out of bed, pull on my robe, and quietly tread into the den so as not to wake up my husband. I pull the Bible I’ve had since I was a young teenager off the shelf and slink into a chair.

I prayed that God would convict me about this decision, if I am just being stubborn.  

I open to a Psalm and read. It soothes me some. Father, I need Your wisdom. I turn to Proverbs.  Proverbs 1:1. As my mind takes in the words, certain verses jump out at me. I pull a legal pad off the desk and write them down. As I continue reading, more and more verses make their way to my notepad. Exortations to embrace wisdom. That if we seek for understanding and value it as silver, then we will understand the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God. Wisdom bestows well-being. That we should guard our heart for everything we do flows from it. Give careful thought to the paths of our feet. How hatred stirs up conflict but love covers over all wrongs.

Good people obtain favor from the Lord,
    but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes. Prov. 12:2 (NIV)

Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
    but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. Prov. 13:24 (NIV)

There is a way that appears to be right,
    but in the end it leads to death. Prov. 14:12 (NIV)

The simple believe anything,
    but the prudent give thought to their steps. Prov. 14:15 (NIV)

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1 (NIV)

Folly brings joy to one who has no sense,
    but whoever has understanding keeps a straight course. Prov. 15:21 (NIV)

To humans belong the plans of the heart,
    but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.

All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
    but motives are weighed by the Lord.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans. Prov. 16:1-3 (NIV)

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
    sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.  Prov. 16:24 (NIV)

--- 5:30 am now and I put my pen down having read the entire book of Proverbs and filling seven pages of a lined yellow paper with verses.

I quietly crawl back in bed and quickly fall back asleep with a little more peace in my heart.

Grace and Peace,
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...