Being Present

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My dear Friend,

I love our relationship and that we talk every day. You mean so much to me! But… I long for the conversations we used to have, before life got so busy. I treasure our time together and I want our friendship to deepen, not diminish. That’s why I’m sharing my heart with you today.

It just seems that you’re not “present” when we’re together. There’s so much I want to talk about but I feel like you’re distracted. I long to hear about your life—what you’re thinking, feeling, loving, struggling with, excited about. I remember when you would eagerly share your hopes and dreams with me and I really liked that!

I love it when we exchange ideas and make plans. I love seeing you happy and enthusiastic, on the cusp of a new venture. I even love the times when you come to me crying—I want to be involved in the good and the sad parts of your life. I want to do life together.

I guess what I’m asking is, can we go back to the way things were? When we get together can we be present and engaged? Can we shut out the roar of the urgent and relax together? Can we again share what’s important to us, what makes us laugh, and what brings us to our knees?

I would love to do that… regularly. Do you have any time today? Whatever works for you, wherever, I’ll be there. I love you!

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you,” Jesus. (Rev. 3:20, paraphrased)

Graphic credit: AnnaHelsinki@Pixabay

Magi, Camels & the Ultimate GPS

Christmas Travelers

“We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:2

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Most stars are not visible from my suburban backyard. I can barely discern the constellations, let alone discover a star of rare significance. And follow it? I would likely end up at Newark Airport and watch my star land on the tarmac. Thankfully, this was not the scenario of the three magi—wise men—kings—who followed the celebrated Christmas star.

What kind of people are willing to follow a star? Were the Magi adventure seekers? Wise men with a nagging emptiness? Kings with too much time on their hands?

  • They were magi—astrologers, dreamers of dreams, interpreters of omens—who saw a momentous, significant star and followed it. The God-sent, heavenly GPS led them to the most pivotal, momentous point in history. Oh, that I would live so courageously!
  • They were wise men who recognized a sign when they saw one and willingly followed it, believing their journey would make them wiser still. Oh, that I would pursue wisdom so eagerly!
  • They were kings, men of wealth and power, who bowed before greatness embodied in a child and offered their riches to One whose significance they did not comprehend. Oh, that I would worship so humbly and give so generously!

Lord, I acknowledge that you have put stars in my sky to point me to you. May I follow with the determination, enthusiasm, and humility of the wise… and bow in worship.

The star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was… On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:9, 11

Graphic compliments of Angeleses@Pixabay

I’ve Fallen—And I Got Right Back Up!

fallen2Have you noticed that what’s true in the physical realm is often not so spiritually? It’s understandable that the older we are, the consequences of a fall are more debilitating and difficult to heal. Wisdom instructs me to hold hand rails and watch my steps, but I’ve also discovered the converse is true in my spiritual life, in matters of my heart and soul.

Circumstances that would have devastated me in my youth are now taken in stride—I recover more quickly and get right back up. As I considered this, I wondered why it’s true.

Have I suffered to the point I’ve become numb? Have I become cynical and unsurprised by adversity? Has my heart hardened to disappointments? It’s none of these reasons—the pain is still poignant. The difference is, I’ve been exercised in grace.

Grace was waiting for me when challenges caused distress. It met me when I was hammered by despair. Grace calmed my heart and carried me when I couldn’t go on. Every debilitating loss provided a fresh discovery of God’s grace—and now, I’ve learned to expect it. This expectation may not be immediate. I often have to sit quietly to center my heart and remember, but God’s grace is always there…

Abundant grace

Fresh grace

Personal grace

Free grace

Sufficient grace

I may sorrow through the night of my affliction, but in the morning I find God’s mercy and grace, faithful and new. Again.

Belief Changers

Picture 1 from Life Alert, picture 2 from Belief Changers

 

 

We had No Idea what We were Getting Into

50yearsWhen Rich and I married fifty years ago we were young—he actually needed parental consent to get a marriage license! We were in love but had no idea how that love would be disappointed and tested. We didn’t know where married life would lead, the severity of life’s storms, or the crippling pain of loss. Guess our mindset was simple—we’ll live happily ever after.

Reaching a landmark anniversary brings reflection, such as, what was the key to getting here? Was it…

  • Learning to forgive?
  • Putting the other first?
  • Not majoring on minors?
  • Encouraging personal endeavors?
  • Grit and determination?
  • Not compromising our commitment?

All of those factored in, and we were fairly conscientious about them, but I don’t think any of them provide the answer.

Our marriage didn’t succeed because we put the other first, but because we each put God first. Our commitment to Him protected our commitment to each other. Looking to God to fulfill our hopes and dreams, rather than to each other, was critical.

I remember Rich’s surprise early in our marriage when I told him I didn’t expect him to make me happy. I had discovered a secret—all my joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction would come from God, not my husband. No spouse can satisfy the longing of our hearts and, looking back, I think that realization was a key factor to our success.

Marriage is not about reaching a milestone anniversary—50 years or 20 or 65. It’s about trusting God to help you keep a promise:

Till death do us part.

My reflections on fifty years of marriage?

“All that we have accomplished you have done for us.” (Isaiah 26:12)

The Best Known Prayer

The Lords prayer

The Lord’s Prayer is familiar even to those who don’t know “our Father in heaven.” For many, it is a prayer to recite during a religious service, funeral, or moment of piety. But Jesus did not give us this prayer as a formal recitation.

The prayer can be viewed it as a menu of topics about which to pray, but it’s  more than that. It’s a pattern.

Jesus gave us a pattern for personal conversation with God and provides us with an outline for each concern we bring to Him. When I apply it, every aspect of the need I’m presenting is covered, even those I hadn’t considered.

As we talk about the parts of the Lord’s Prayer in upcoming posts, I invite you to choose one personal prayer concern and apply Jesus’ pattern to your specific request. I believe you will experience sweet peace.

Our Father

Sometimes I get no further than simply saying, “Our Father.” When my heart is heavy with concern for a loved one, I utter those words and peace invades. It’s not an attempt to convince my Father to listen and intervene, but a confession of faith. He is our Father—mine and the one I am praying for. When I speak those words, I’m acknowledging that God cares more than I do because He is their Father and I’m releasing the one I love to the One who loves greater.

Suddenly the complications that bewildered me, come to rest. My heart stills because my Father, our Father, has it covered. Those two words remind me that He’s in the picture, He’s present, He’s omnipresent.

Our Father is everything we could want an earthly father to be and more. He loves perfectly, provides lavishly, listens patiently. He shows mercy, kindness and grace without reservation. He understands our weaknesses and knows what’s needed to strengthen us.

His Father’s heart responds to me, His child, talking to Him about the needs of another beloved child.

Today, let the words “Our Father” bring peace to your heart as you speak them on behalf of your loved one, your troubling situation, your concerns.

Oops! I Forgot (Again)

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One thing that frustrated me when my children were young was the need to repeat myself, constantly. I mean, how many times can a mother be expected to say, “Wipe your feet,” “Close the door,” “Say please,” or “Move back from the TV?” Why can’t they remember these simple instructions? Since this is now in my distant past I can assure you, it may be when they enter college, but eventually they get it.

I’m not only frustrated when others forget but I get irritated with myself when I’m unable to remember names, story details, birthdays, recipes, or book titles. But, more significantly, why can’t I remember the big things? Like…

  • Fear not
  • Judge not
  • Forgive
  • Get rid of bitterness
  • Speak words that build up
  • Be still
  • Give thanks
  • Trust God

Although I forget—often, God never says, “How many times do I have to tell you?” Or, “I’m not going to say it again…” Or, “I said it once in Isaiah 43:1—look it up!”

In every changing circumstance, personal failure, and life challenge, God sees my distress. He knows I’ve forgotten (again) and rather than reprimand me, He gently reminds me with consoling words:

  • Don’t be afraid, I’m aware of every detail, down to the number of hairs on your head.[1]
  • You won’t drown, I am with you.[2]
  • Cast those cares on me—I’ll carry them.[3]
  • You’re not forgotten. See, you’re engraved here, on the palms of my hands.[4]

[1] Matthew 10:30-31, [2] Isaiah 43:2, [3] Psalm 55:22, [4] Isaiah 49:16

Photo compliments of zeenews.india.com

The Lord IS my Shepherd..

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Not was, not will be, but is, right now, at this moment, in the present, the Lord is my Shepherd. He is always near, not catching up, not ahead of me, but with me.

Today marks thirteen years since Stacey left us to be with Him. Though time has moved on, deep loss remains, without compensation. The Lord shepherded me through the loss of our daughter, continues to do so today, and will be present every day of my future. On October 11, 2017, my Shepherd is comforting me, refreshing me, reminding me of my hope. As He is walking here beside me, Stacey is walking there beside Him.

Today, I will put a period after is—it is enough that “The Lord is.”

lighthouse*Image compliments of gmkfreelogos.com

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