Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Indigo


It should be no surprise that I've decorated for Christmas using the color Blue.
My rooms are full of blue
year long
and every season.

But this year, Blue,
INDIGO,
has taken on a deeper meaning,
as I've looked at the Shepherds,
and felt the night watches
like never before.









Are you a blue person?  I think there are some of us who choose
the color blue as a favorite, for deeper reasons than we may have thought.  I usually pick "blue" whenever a random sampling of color faves is set before me. But it's not my only favorite. I waver between yellow and peach and lavendar, depending on my mood.

So where does this color feeling come from that is associated with blue?  

A friend sent me a link to this song by Fernando Ortega this week. It is a song that I sent to her several months ago.
And, it is a song that another friend had sent to me many
years ago, after I had my first glimpse of an
Indigo Bunting,
a beautiful blue bird that flashes like sapphire
if you are lucky enough to see him.



But the thing with this song is something I never realized until we moved into a house close to the woods, with a perfect setting for those beautiful birds. It really does take a stormy, cloudy day to see the full vividness of Indigo. On a sunny day, the color gets muted by the bright lights, but on those dark days, that flash of Indigo cuts through all of the surrounding gloom. 

And in the dark watches of the night,
what is the color of Hope that flashes through the gloom
in my heart?

I think God must have planned it this way.
Because even the ancient garment, the Ephod, worn by the
High Priest
was woven with that indigo blue.

"The three colors woven into the ephod were symbolic of Christ's incarnation, ministry, and second advent. The blue, probably indigo, was produced from a species of shellfish and speaks of Christ, who came down from heaven as the Son of God to do the Father's will."  


"They made the ephod of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen."


This garment worn by the High Priest, and the dark blue of the night watches, where the Shepherds kept watch, they both point to this coming flash of light, a vivid awakening to HOPE where God met with the storms of mankind.

Jesus didn't come to a world that was bright and perfect and shining full of light.  No, He came right into a stormy mess, where a downtrodden people were crying out for justice, already having waited for what seemed like forever to find that clear patch of blue that was promised to them.

God opened the Heavens
and sent out His own dear gift of Indigo,
a patch of blue sky
to say 
"I love you"
to a world gone haywire.

In the night watches of these days
as my husband recovers from surgery,
and my weakened body
feels too overwhelmed
for a HOLIDAY,
my Lord parts the sky
and says
"I love you."

And Christmas is born again in me.

Is His Christmas born in you this year?
I pray that you will receive His gift
His
"I love you"
sent through the night.  






 




Monday, December 12, 2016

HANDS


There it was again, that old familiar wake-up call: a wave of nausea followed by a jolt of pain and then the rush of anxiety.  This journey through RA/Fibromyalgia has left me well acquainted with the Night Watches of Anxiety.  But this time, a word followed closely on the heels of the normal rush: HANDS, and it came so insistently that I felt there must be something my Lord wanted to uncover inside of my thoughts.  


And then it all came back in a flood: this is the week for my husband's hand surgeries. After all these months of the RA attacking MY hands, and the pain and swelling, and even the residual tendon damage left after my meds have begun to bring me relief, now we must face the surgeries to repair carpal tunnel damage in both of my HUSBAND'S wrists. Simultaneously.  


Are you asking me to examine my hands, Lord?
Or are you trying to teach me
more
about YOUR hands?


A few months ago, a dear blogging friend, Trudy Den Hoed, wrote a beautiful blogpost about looking up and trusting that God is holding us. As the pain and anxiety rushed through me, the words of her post and the song she had posted were also running through my mind, bringing great comfort in the middle of the night.


My mind and body found peace as the Lord brought STILLNESS to the night watch again. But when I woke this morning, the word HANDS was still echoing in my thoughts. 


Yes, Lord, I trust you.
You have us
and 
You hold us.

But where is the foundation
of my knowing that?
What is the reason
I know your hands
are safe?

I know that my hands
are weak.
Forever
I am left with a 
reminder
of what disease
has done to my body.

How can I hold onto
YOUR hands
when my hands
can not hold close
to anything?


And then I knew. This weakness left behind in me, forever keeps my gaze fixed upward. There is only ONE who has the strength, enough to win salvation for me. And this ONE left HIS HOME in Heaven to make HIS HOME in ME.
 

Sing to the Lord a new song,
    for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
    have worked salvation for him.

Psalm 98:1 NIV 

 

My hands may be weak. My husband's hands may be damaged. But we were never meant to work the healing necessary on our own. Jesus is the only safe one to hold onto us. And Jesus is the only one who holds out God's Salvation 

for me

and for my husband

and for you.








I am linking this week over at these great sites:
#TellHisStory Jennifer Dukes Lee 
#TeaAndWordTuesday Meg Weyerbacher 





 



Monday, December 5, 2016

Stillness



The Stillness of the first Snow 
ushers in the Pause,
The Pause of Advent,
 When waiting hovers all around
And Mystery calls out to me. 



Yesterday I read the words of Bonnie Gray, The Faith Barista, again, and  remembered my first weeks as a blogger, when she began her #OneWordLent series. Only now, the months have passed, and she invited us to join her as she begins a new series for #OneWordAdvent. Find her first post  by clicking here where she shared her words at the (In)Courage Site.



Those first weeks as a blogger were so scary to me (not that I feel much braver now, 80 posts later,) and her words of invitation brought a stirring followed by a response in my heart that was hard to ignore. I knew that God was the one calling me out, and asking me to listen for HIS #OneWord. 


Could it be that He is still
asking me to seek out
the #OneWord He 
would speak today?



And the Ancient Words flutter
down through time,
words we memorize as children
become so familiar
that we miss the meaning
lose the mystery.

 

" And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.'"
Luke 2:8-11 NIV 


I wonder how dark the night was as they watched their sheep. The darkness seems very deep around my soul, around the souls of many that I love right now.  Who is keeping watch?  Who is guarding the sheep this night?  And how well were those shepherds trained to listen for the predator in the dark?

I have a feeling that no amount of training could have prepared them for the explosion of mystery that rang around them, and brought them to their knees on THAT NIGHT.  Who was watching the sheep then? And where was the BRAVE when the sky fell down around them?

My heart is heavy
for those who watch
the sky falling
and find their faces on the ground.

My prayers feel useless under a weight
that is full of my own fear as well.

Did the shepherds cry out for mercy
in that moment
before the 
Angels sang?

The angel's first words make so much more sense to me now. Unless the sky has fallen around you, you cannot feel the weight of those words:

"Do not be afraid"

And unless you have felt the weight being lifted off your shoulders
as the Mystery of God Coming to Earth envelops you, you cannot see the beauty:
 Grace in a Shepherd, 
Mercy for the sheep.

  
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:7, 9-10  


So what is my #OneWordAdvent
for this week?


STILLNESS

I will be still, and know that HE is God.

God come to earth
for me and for you

to be the perfect shepherd caring for us
the sheep of HIS fold. 

GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY for all the people. 




I am linking this week with:
#TellHisStory, Jennifer Dukes Lee 
#TeaAndWordTuesday, Meg Weyerbacher 
#LiveFreeThursday, Suzie Eller 

  

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Lasting Inheritance

Today would have been my Father's 95th Birthday.

Already, he's been gone to Heaven for 20 years,
and my Mother joined him there 7 years ago.

There are days still, when it feels like I could  
 pick up the phone
and hear their voices
checking in on my day, and my home here.

But their HOME has become so much more
than I can now realize,
FOREVER in the presence of Jesus.

Just one year before he left us, my Dad and my Mom
celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
They renewed their vows, and we celebrated with them
a love that had stood the test of time.

I longed to give them a meaningful gift,
and finally knew what it would be when I heard this Michael Card song, popular in the '90's.
I hand-lettered the lyrics and framed it specially,
and cried as I let the words sink deep into my heart:




(Thank you, Joy Lenton, for your wonderful post about Advent and Home
over at the Godspace Community that stirred my remembering this week.)


But as this current Season of Transition continues
to bring thoughts of transformation and growth
to my mind,
the looking-back that came through that song
has brought an amazing touch of 
FREEDOM
to my life.

If you had looked at my life as it related to my Mother, 
and if you had known me during any of those years,
you would have seen that ANXIETY
was ingrained,
and WORRY attached itself
to any and every conversation
held with her.

I carried a hidden shame, knowing that
I was required to be the peace-giver
to still those worries,
and take care of the issues
that held her heart in fear.

I carried a hidden shame, knowing that
I could be passing along those 
same weights of anxiety
to my own children.


But just as surely as God uncovers the hidden weaknesses,
He will bring the healing that is needed for
those broken places to be made whole.
And when I read the Bible Verse
given to me today for my daily verse,
my heart leaped in HOPE
because it was the very verse given to me
as I began the journey to pray for those
generational chains
to be broken:


  "Instead of your shame
    you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
    you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours"
Isaiah 61:7 NIV 


Today, my Dad's Birthday,
Today, the day I start physical therapy 
for yet another painful area,
Today is the day I can see the double portion
given to me:

A lasting inheritance to rejoice in!
My Mother and Father are free
in their FOREVER HOME,
and I have been blessed with the 
EVERLASTING JOY
of 
JESUS LIVING IN ME.

My parents gave me the Gift of Jesus,
and 
He brings everything
that I could possibly need:
every healing and
every freedom,
These are my Inheritance.

Can you still your thoughts
and 
ease your burdens down
and 
listen along with me?

What if we could see
during this time of Advent,
and preparing for Christmas,
that HE who came to dwell with us,
is really our 
HOME,
our INHERITANCE,
far more costly and pure
than anything else
handed down through the generations?


Home by Michael Card

"Home is a comfort and home is a light
A place to leave the darkness outside
Home is a peaceful and ever full feeling
A place where the soul safely hides

And being at home should remind you that still
There's a place that's prepared just for you
And I think that my home is just heaven's reflection
As long as my home is here with you

Home is where someone is waiting and loving
And happy to see you again
That half of your heart that somebody else treasures
The one who's your forever friend

But it seems that He's told me, the life that He's shown me
Is a life mostly spent on the road
But when the world's empty charm has done all of its harm
I know that His love waits for me in your arms

'cause home is a comfort and home is a light
A place to leave the darkness outside
Home is a peaceful and ever full feeling
A place where a soul safely hides

And being at home should remind you that still
There's a place that's prepared just for you
And I think that my home is just heaven's reflection
As long as my home is here with you" 




I am linking this week over at these great sites:
#TellHisStory, Jennifer Dukes Lee 
#TeaAndWordTuesday, Meg Weyerbacher 
#LiveFreeThursday Suzie Eller 
 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Joy of Consolation




 

 

 

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.


Psalm 94:19, NIV 








What do you do when 
your heart trembles
under a load of 
anxiety?

Do you have a word that soothes
or a song that comforts?

I have a treasure chest full
that measures an abundance of 
JOY
just waiting for me.

Sometimes easily forgotten, 
one simple thought
can take me down the path
that will open the vault of memories
stored
with friends of the most
heart-full kind.


There is the friend who 
drove the car while my husband held onto 
our mattress tied to the roof of the car.

Then there is the couple who 
brought 3 pies to our house
and got snowed in at Thanksgiving
so we ate all the pies, the four
of us, in ONE day.

Or maybe I would remember the
friend who eagerly shared my
joy in gardening and donned her
raincoat and boots
just so that we would not miss our
yearly Garden Planting Day.

Ah, yes, another gardening friend
came alongside
for our Secret Gardening Forays
as we transplanted and prettied
up our townhouse complex
together.

But what kinds of friends would
willingly
sign up to portray the cast of
a Gilligan Christmas
put on by the STAFF of your Church?
True friends who know what it means
to love to the full
day in and day out
because 
that's what Jesus calls us to do.

And by the time I've 
walked through the years
back up to the present,
and my heart is looking down 
the trail that is today,
I find a new list of friends.
Ones who have joined me with
Blogging, Facebook, and Emails for
Digital Loving,
a phrase I did not know could exist.

But then,
who would have thought that
mattress chugging,
pie eating,
boot wearing,
shovel bearing,
and 
costume wearing
could be ways to find true consolation
and JOY
from Jesus?

There is no room for anxiety
when my heart is so full
of LOVE like that. 


And so to all of my friends,
both near and far,
And to all of my Loved Ones
who live in my heart,
I am THANKFUL for the gift
of consolation
that Jesus brings through you.



I am linking this week over at these great sites:
#TeaAndWordTuesday, Meg Weyerbacher 
#TellHisStory, Jennifer Dukes Lee 
#LiveFreeThursday, Suzie Eller 
 
 

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

As the Holidays Approach



The holidays were approaching, yet another specialty medication wasn’t panning out in the way we had hoped, and I found myself in a full-blown Rheumatoid Arthritis flare, longing for any kind of relief from the pain. I called my Rheumatologist to report on my condition and his instructions were, “Lay low and be patient. We have to wait three months before your insurance will accept another change.” Reluctantly, I agreed to restart my pain meds, even though prednisone plays havoc with my emotions, as it was the only relief available for the moment.

God, where are you? And why are none of my usual coping methods acceptable any longer?


I used to be really good at “walking it off” when my mind filled with darkness, and the satisfaction of a job well done could lift my eyes away from my problems, giving me a jolt of hope that maybe my problems weren’t so all-consuming after all.

But now? There was no walking or chore or service that my body would allow. Caring for my basic needs took every available ounce of strength.

The low point came when I looked at the calendar. Thanksgiving was only a few weeks away. We love when our adult children and their families gather at our home. We cook and eat our way through a day of feasting and fun, but this year something had to give, there was no hope I could prepare for that kind of gathering.

. . . 

I am so blessed to be part of the story-telling team over at 
Chronic-Joy Ministries today. To continue reading this post
of how God works through Chronic Illness,
please join me by clicking the link here.





I'm linking today over at
#LiveFreeThursday, Suzie Eller 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

In Him We Live and Move and Have our Being




Before I began this Journey into Chronic Illness more than two years ago,
I had immersed myself in praying
the Scriptures,
through a Beth Moore book, titled,

I did not see the place that lay before me.
But my Lord was making preparation.




Even as the pain began increasing,
and the Specialist spoke the words
Chronic Rheumatoid Arthritis,
I did not feel the darkness that was lying
in wait
to pounce and cover me as the 
nights began to swallow the days.

But today the nudge of my Lord
led me back to the first chapter of 
Beth Moore's book, and her quote:

"The giant step in the walk of faith is the one we take when we decide God no longer is a part of our life. He is our life."

followed by this passage in Acts:

 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.  God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.  ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.'" 

Acts 17:24-28 NIV 

 

I don't think I could have seen how much I  depended on my own healthy, strong self
until that self became en-robed in weakness.

 
Oh, don't get me wrong here.
I longed for God to be my life.
I cried out for Him to expose my hidden sins,
and I searched the words that my mind
fell back upon to see His Mercy.

 
But physically?
Well, that was my own responsibility.
I tried to make healthy choices.
I walked those trails to increase my stamina,
and I pushed my strength,
day after day as I shoveled and carried and
weeded my way through our land.

So when I found myself being gradually
stripped of those abilities,
I heard myself complaining to God,

"Why did you bring me to this place if I can't take care of it?" 

Ah,
There's the catch, isn't it?

What if He wanted to show me exactly that?
Maybe I am here, BECAUSE I cannot 
take care of it,
and
Maybe He wants to be more than a part of my
spiritual and emotional life.

HE WANTS MY WHOLE LIFE.
MY WHOLE BROKEN SELF.


So, in these days before the Official
THANKSGIVING DAY,
my heart is filled with Thanks:

Thanks for the preparation
and Thanks for the journey
that leads me to more of HIM
who is my whole life.


And in this way,
our hearts can truly say
we are thankful in every season. 



I am linking this week with these great sites:
 

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Through It All



On a November Morning filled with much uncertainty, there is One who ever remains Faithful and True.




My younger son sent me a text
this morning with a song
from our one of our favorite
singers from decades ago.
This led to my remembering this classic:





Are you feeling the weight of weakness
that this world is displaying now?
Is your own heart filled with a
weariness
that seems to shadow faith
with fear?

Our God is faithful still,
and He has not left us alone.

May our hearts look back to Him,
as with one voice we cry
"Lord, save this land." 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Winter Wheat: Part 2


While I was immersed in last month's #31Days of Listening
with Chronic Illness,
you may remember the two words that my friend
shared with me:
Winter Wheat,
and the post I wrote about it here. 


There were notes I had taken then,
while I researched,
that my heart tucked away
to be held in a silent hug
because they felt too personal.


 But then that same friend called me just tonight
to say he was surprised to 
find out that one of our favorite singers
had written a song with those very words
contained within the chorus.


Are the words "listen" still on my horizon?
I would hope that by now my heart has learned 
a little more about paying attention!


So I searched out my tucked-away notes 
and found these words saved
from Wikipedia on Winter Wheat farming:

"Winter wheat production quickly spread throughout the Great Plains, and was, as it still is, usually grown using the techniques of dryland farming.


"The nature of dryland farming makes it particularly susceptible to erosion, especially wind erosion. Since healthy topsoil is critical to sustainable dryland agriculture, its preservation is generally considered the most important long-term goal of a dryland farming operation. Erosion control techniques such as windbreaks, reduced tillage or no-till, spreading straw (or other mulch on particularly susceptible ground), and strip farming are used to minimize topsoil loss." 


And more about Dryland Farming from this article in



(these farmers) "continue to wring profits from their yields through the practice of extremely efficient farming, using no-tillage methods to preserve moisture and soil, while leaving at least half the ground fallow at any given time." 


Can you hear the words that jumped out at me?

"preservation"
"windbreaks"
"no-till"
"fallow"

Each of those words speak to a process that has been 
given extra care,
perhaps even labeled
"tenderly."


The Master Gardener is not subjecting
those little green shoots
to the harshness of winter
before He has made sure
that the proper
provisions and tender care
have been made.

  I thought I had listened to all of Rich Mullin's songs,
but I had missed this one,
the one that God had hugged close to His heart
until just the right moment:
 





"And the moon is a sliver of silver
Like a shaving that fell on the floor of a Carpenter's shop
And every house must have it's builder
And I awoke in the house of God
Where the windows are mornings and evenings
Stretched from the sun
Across the sky north to south
And on my way to early meeting
I heard the rocks crying out
I heard the rocks crying out 

 Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise 

 And the wrens have returned and they're nesting
In the hollow of that oak where his heart once had been
And he lifts up his arms in a blessing for being born again
And the streams are all swollen with winter
Winter unfrozen and free to run away now
And I'm amazed when I remember
Who it was that built this house
And with the rocks I cry out 

 Be praised for all Your tenderness by these works of Your hands
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless and bring to life Your land
Look down upon this winter wheat and be glad that You have made
Blue for the sky and the color green that fills these fields with praise."
--Rich Mullins, "The Color Green"


My heart must stop and Praise Him 
here,
for all of His tenderness
that He works 
over this quivering and small
planting 
that is held within my heart.


He knows what He is doing, my friend.
We may not even realize it,
but He has already made
provision
for every step that has been needed
before the winter winds will blow.  



"Listen and hear my voice;
    pay attention and hear what I say.
When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually?
    Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil? 
 When he has leveled the surface,
    does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin?
Does he not plant wheat in its place,
    barley in its plot,
    and spelt in its field? 
 His God instructs him
    and teaches him the right way."



I am linking this week over at: