Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Butterflies

The season of Butterflies . . . I get so excited when the summer heat brings in these fluttering beauties.  And usually, my heart starts to remembering ---


It was the fall of 1986, and my husband and I were preparing to move our family, (the 2 of us and our 6 year old and 1 year old sons) across the country. We were following the call of Jesus, as He asked us to come with Him to a new and different place.  Scary and exciting, sad and hope-filled, my emotions were all over the place then.  


This was before the day of internet easy connections, so stories were saved and gathered in my heart from family and friends and books and magazines. I had read a sweet story in Guideposts about a Mom and her daughter raising Monarch Butterflies, and having the joy of those beautiful creatures fluttering around them stirred a deep longing in my heart. I prayed that somehow God would give us the beauty that we needed to make this giant leap of faith into the unknown, hardly realizing the depth that He would go to just to show us how much He cared for us.


As the moving van was loading our furniture, I sat in the grass outside our inner-city home and thought of all of the memories we had gathered in those crowded years of college and babies and ministries-just-beginning.  When something fluttered over my head, I looked up to see a beautiful Monarch Butterfly floating overhead.  "Thank you, God," I whispered in awe, as it continued to flow back and forth around me the entire time I watched the movers.


I held onto that picture the next morning as we pulled away from our friend's driveway and headed towards the interstate. The miles gathered quickly as we crossed over the state line heading into Iowa. But something caught my eye, and we looked in amazement as first one Monarch Butterfly, then another, and another, until there were dozens and dozens of Monarchs making the same southwesterly journey that we were on.  We had been given the chance to join in with their yearly migration, as God was sending us on our own migration.  Every day of the trip they were with us, until the final day when we crossed the California state line, when they must have veered south into Mexico towards their resting place.  On that day, slightly disappointed that we had not seen a single Monarch, we opened one final card from a friend back home. She had told us to wait until we were in California to open it.  Not knowing my heart-held story of promise, she had chosen a card with, (you guessed it) a monarch butterfly on it.  The God who called us to follow Him was faithful to keep us in that journey.


"Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass."
I Thessalonians 5:24


Our California-Season was shorter than we had expected, but full of learning and stretching like no other time in our lives.  So as I entered this current season of stretching, hearing the voice of my Jesus saying, "Come with Me, here" my heart has been longing for those beautiful-moments-of-promise once again. 


On days when I see no sense or purpose, when weakness or pain threatens to steal my joy, He has saturated my heart with the Promise of His Presence again and again.


"The Lord's lovingkinesses indeed never cease. For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your FAITHFULNESS."
Lamentations 3:22-23


When my dear friend's young adult daughter asked for prayer as she was contemplating her own leap of faith, I gladly joined in to support her. She didn't know all of my stories, but she knew that God had been faithful to keep His promises to me through so many years. When she asked if she could paint a picture for my me and for my husband to show her thankfulness for our support, I eagerly looked forward to see the picture she would create.  

Did you guess the beauty that God wanted to bring to my remembrance?



"Seasons" by Kyrstin Schober



Are you on a Journey of Change?

 Has there been a Shift in the Seasons you are facing?  

I would love to pray for you as we walk these paths where Jesus calls us to follow Him.  He is waiting to show us His Faithfulness here.


I'm linking today with:


and Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory

and Suzie Eller at #LiveFreeThursday





Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Grace upon Grace

"Trials must and will befall,
But with humble faith to see
LOVE inscribed upon them all,
This is Happiness to me."
--W. Cowper

I think I may have started too many books this summer.  But yet, is that even possible?  In this RA/fibro-fog life, my mind seems to crave more words than normal.  As if filling up the foggy areas with one more dose of Holy might just help me remember a little longer. 

So the started-but-not-yet-finished stack of books on my Kindle and on my table has me feeling like a child-at-Christmas-time again. So much JOY just waiting for me to partake.  But there was a time when unfinished books left me in a state of stress because each one was just one more task that I was not finishing on time.  How did I move from a place of stress to one of joy?  I want to know because maybe there is a lesson to be learned here, to apply to other areas of my life.

What if I could see LOVE written all over my unfinished chores, and weakened states?  What if those trials became Grace-just-waiting-to-happen as I changed my place of viewing? I have prayed so often, "Jesus I need your mercy and your grace here!" but what if the Grace is stacked up on the table, already waiting for me to partake?

Instead of bemoaning my lack of baking and cooking strength-- what if I saw my daily Crock-pot-Meal as Grace given for this day?

Instead of staring at the weeds overtaking the paths through my little front-yard woods trail--what if I saw those rugged areas as my very own Grace-filled-nature-preserve set in front of my eyes?

And instead of dreary-filled-thoughts of slowed-down-days--what if I tasted the Grace of time given to savor Jesus, alone with Him?

"For out of His fullness (the superabundance of His grace and truth) we have all received grace upon grace (spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift.)" John 1:16--The Amplified Version


I have been returning to Joy Lenton's book, Seeking Solace, again and again lately.  I even quoted a portion of this poem to my counselor last week:

Set Me Free

"Set me free

I no longer want 
to be ensared

by the chains 
of my past, or

held fast by fear
for the future

Set me free

to fly uncaged
in the current

of your grace,
releasing all I am

and can be
into your embrace."


As I left my counselor's office, she said to me, "When I think of you now, I'm going to picture you floating in a pool of Grace." So, flying or floating, there is a freedom that I seek.

Instead of gripping the past with hands too weak to hold on any longer--my Jesus has gifted me with the Grace to open my hands and receive HIS JOY,  enough for this day.


The rough-edged nature trail as viewed from my deck.





I am linking this week with some wonderful bloggers over at #TellHisStory  with Jennifer Dukes Lee,
 and  #TeaAndWord  with Meg Weyerbacher  and #ChronicFridayLinkup  at Being Fibro Mom. Won't you join me?

CookWipeSweep 


 


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Path I Choose

Are you facing a Battle this week?  Maybe it's personal and no one else knows how depleted you feel inside.  Or maybe it's the state of this world, and the anger & division has left you feeling hopeless.

I was asked to participate in a Book Launch by Ifeoma Samuel for her new book,   Overcome Failure: Get Back on Your Feet

 

And I've been soaking in her words of encouragement, feeling that she is someone who understands what it feels like to be battle-scarred and empty.  Her questions have caused me to ponder my own daily battles.  

Have I given into hopelessness?
Have I been looking at the defeats in my days instead of looking for God's Good Path through the struggle?


My husband came down with a flu this last week. So, when I was faced with the prospect that my support-line for a bit-more-normal-life would not be available, (Thank you for all that usually you do for me, Barry!)  I found myself pushing for normalcy on my own.  

I should have seen it coming:  the typical crash & burn that accompanies this Rheumatoid Arthritis/Fybromyalgia lifestyle.  But honestly, I thought I was being good to myself by resting after each chore that I tackled.  I'm sure you've heard the drill:  "somebody has to take care of this home! It's not going to be maintained on its own, you know!  . . .  I'll rest as soon as I finish this one.more.thing."  And, of course, the depleted-energy-syndrome caught up with me. In the middle of the night, with burning limbs and aching soul, my mind knew the words so well:  I had failed in the battle yet again.

When all the while, God was inviting me to see how HE wants to be my support-system.  HE has prepared the path already, and only HE can provide what I lack the strength to fulfill.

So when I came to this passage in the book today, my heart quickened within me:

"And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. Genesis 17:1
 
"Incredible! We walk before Him and He’s got our back. He lovingly guides us every step of the way. Although you may not know where He is headed, you sure can trust Him to lead to you a safe haven, but not necessarily through smooth roads."

This road we are on: it's meant to be a path-of-learning.  We face our own struggles and even defeats in the arms of the ONE who values every step we take.  HE cheers us on, when the world says to stay down.  HE brings the perfection for us, when we know we are so IMPERFECT. 

So, while there are so many tasks I cannot do, and Battles that seem too hard to face, I can take this one moment and find PRAISE FOR THE JOURNEY with my Jesus. He's got my back, painful or whole, and there is beauty to be tasted today.




 A moment of beauty awaits us when we open our eyes to see God's Path set before us



To find out more about Ifeoma Samuel, and her new book follow this link to her blog:   


I am linking today with Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory and with Meg Weyerbacher over at #TeaAndWordTuesday
Come along and check out their great words of encouragement this week! 

 CookWipeSweep
 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Except Ye Become Like Little Children




She walked in the door and ran over to me, her blond curls dancing along the way.  Before her parents had barely said their "Hello, We made it!" she was on a mission to place an envelope in my hand.  "Grandma, I made this for you! Open it, open it!"  Her younger sister echoed the words, "Yes, Grandma, open it!"  


My hands unfolded the delicate tissue, and I read the words that my little Granddaughter had so painstakingly traced, as she lifted my heart with her words of love:  "Grandma, I know all about your sickness and I pray for you every night!"  The hugs overwhelmed me, while her younger sister again echoed the words, "Yes, I pray for you too, Grandma!"


So the tissue-paper-letter sits on my table today, alongside a beautiful card of encouragement that arrived in the mail yesterday from a sweet Sister-in-Christ.  Words swim in my heart from another new-found friend who lives hours away from here, yet tells me that his entire church has been praying for me.


Was it only last week that I felt all alone in this journey?  Mere days ago that I whispered my failures to Jesus, my weakness to find His Joy?


He never abandons us, oh I know that truth, but my own heart seems so quick to abandon Him.  I feel the sting of being cut-off from His people, and so I allow the cutting-off to extend to my own choosing as well.  "Not now," I hear myself say, "I have no strength left to talk myself into being cheerful."


So, He brings the cheerful to me.  He brings the Blessings to us, to His Body, when He hears the weakest among us whisper the faintest of cries.  


 "Hear my voice, Lord, when I cry out! Be gracious to me and answer me."    --Psalm 27:7


Sometimes He brings it even when we think we cannot face the weight of one more day walking the path of Hard. 


"Why are you in despair, my soul? Why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God, because I will praise Him once again, since His presence saves me and He is my God."
--Psalm 43:5


And sometimes we need the voice of a child to restore our hearts to that place of trust where our faith begins.


"He (Jesus) called a little child to Him, and placed the child among them. And He said, 'Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven'."


Oh! May we ever let Him keep our hearts soft, and find that child-like place of Wonder and Awe of our God's Love. 


Linking this week at Jennifer Dukes Lee, #TellHisStory.