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:


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Are you Thirsty?



There are days when my soul gets thirsty for a glimpse of the trees
and the water
and the clouds. 

Especially on those dry and weary days,
or after a busy and full time,
I ache for that need to touch God's Beauty.

I think Jesus must surely understand that longing,
after all, He spoke to that very thirst
when He walked this earth.



John 4:13-14 (NIV)  Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”


Are you in a place of dryness?
My heart understands that longing also.
 So would you join me in this prayer,
on a bright November weekend?

"Dear Jesus,
we need your living water.
We come before you 
with hearts that are filled 
with longing.
As we touch your creation here,
given to point us to you,
we ask for your help
to seek for more of YOU.
We know that the water of this world
will leave us empty
and searching for more.
So, Jesus, will you come
and bring the filling
that meets us in the center of our being?"


 John 7:37-38 (NIV) On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 







Today is the day to announce the winners for the Give-away of
Discovering Hope, by Cindee Snider Re!

Congratulations to Anna and Gayl!
(I will be contacting you shortly to get your mailing addresses.)
 

As my husband drew the names from the basket,
I prayed that God would bless you, my friends.
May the Lord speak His will in each of your lives.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rest for the Restless







I am slowly learning to recognize
the signals
my body tries to send out to me.

 These restless nights,
when my soul is so hungry for rest,
Is there a message that I am missing?


Since the RA/Fibromyalgia journey
set in,
I can no longer just push my way through
those signals.
The restless nights will grow longer,
the pain will intensify,
and the fog of the day will 
grow stronger.
Until I finally stop and look
and listen 
(there's that word from last month)
to what God is trying to speak.


This last month of writing was a beautiful
journey into hearing words
and expressing thoughts
that were full of deep surprises.
But it also has taken a toll on my physical strength.


Have you been in that place too?
When you sowed and reaped
and gained a harvest,
but then collapsed at the table
where the food was spread?


So I can hear my Lord whispering,
and see the signs placed before me:
He is calling me to enjoy the harvest,
to slow my thoughts
even as my work is slowed.
 
 
Ephesians 1:18 (NIV) "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people."


He has given me a HOPE to linger in
right here, 
as I allow Him to open my eyes.
The Harvest that He wants 
me to enjoy?
It is the Fruit of His Presence.


We are the glorious inheritance
of our God. 
What an incredible thought,
mind-boggling to me.
But even more mind boggling
is the way that our God
wants us to enjoy Him.

His presence is the Fruit 
that He wants to give to us.
The FUTURE that He
has mapped out for us
is to walk with Him
through every moment.


So I will take JOY
and see with my eyes
and hear with my ears
so that my restless nights
might be filled with the fruit
of the Harvest of God.




Don't forget to leave a comment below
in order to be automatically entered into this week's give-away
for a copy of Cindee Snider Re's book,
Discovering Hope: Beginning the Journey Toward Hope in Chronic Illness  
 I will announce the 2 winners this Sunday, November 6. 



I am linking today with
Suzie Eller's #LiveFreeThursday