Thursday, March 30, 2017

He Gives Us More Grace




"Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness."
Luke 11:34 NIV 



This branch is from my Flowering Almond bush. It has had its share of suffering and disease. At one point, several years ago, I considered removing the whole bush because it continued to die back and shed more leaves than what it was gaining. But the patient gardener in me decided to give it another chance, and pruned away the dead branches one more time. I would have missed out on these beautiful blooms if I had focused solely on the diseased portion of the plant.



And so it is in my own life. Where are my eyes choosing to focus? Where is the light within them?



This week a friend sent me a song, and because it was a reworking of a hymn that was one of my favorites, I went on a search to find the original. In so doing, as often happens with me, the history of the hymn drew my attention just as much as the song itself. Maybe you have heard of Annie Johnson Flint, poet and hymn writer from the early 1900's? 

Before this search, I had known she lived a life of suffering, and I had known her beautiful work came from a fountain of grace within her.  What I had not known was that her disease was one with which I am well acquainted:
Rhuematoid Arthritis.

But she suffered in the years when there was no relief for pain, and no medicine to halt the crippling effects. Where I might suffer some pain and weakness, and some residual tendon damage,
she suffered the full effects of a horrible disfigurement
and pain beyond compare. As the disease progressed,
she was forced to type out her poems using only her bent knuckles, because her joints had swollen and twisted to a point of uselessness.


What do I know of that kind of uselessness?
How would I have borne that kind of suffering?


In these days of stillness, as the Lord brings fresh convictions to me daily, I know that my heart has so far yet to travel. For you see, Annie Johnson Flint had let the Lord bring the true Light to her eyes.  When the darkness of a cruel disease could have crippled her heart, she chose to let the Light of Christ permeate her soul and body. She chose to let that Light redeem her suffering, and bring forth encouragement that would bless others who were facing darkness.


She chose Acceptance in the Pruning
from her own Master Gardener
and embraced HIS Light 
in the very place of her suffering.


"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him"
Philippians 1:29 NIV 


 He Giveth More Grace

"He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace. 


When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun. 


Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.


His love has no limit; His grace has no measure.
His pow'r has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,

He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!"


---Annie Johnson Flint


In this Lenten Season, as we pause to meditate on the suffering that our Lord bore for us,
would you join me in prayer?


Dear Lord Jesus,  
I thank you for the suffering
that you bore 
for me.  
I rejoice in the salvation and grace 
that you won 
for me there.
And, now I ask that you would
purify my eyes
to see the light in my days
and the Grace within 
my own suffering.
May I let you bring Joy from Pain
and Beauty from Ashes,
And may the Love you have granted
sink deep into my soul,
body, mind and spirit.
Amen.     











Sadly, the biography of Annie Johnson Flint is out of print. However, if you are interested in reading a short history of her life, and a collection of her beautiful poems, then check out this site:

And to hear Ravi Zacharias speak about Annie's life, here is a short clip:





I am linking today with:
Debbie Kitterman, #TuneInThursday 





Monday, March 27, 2017

The Gardener Must Prune

Hydrangea Arborescens


Have you been smitten by the Hydrangea-Love that seems to be overtaking many gardeners? I know I have, but living here in a cold hilly pocket close to Wisconsin lakes, it takes a gamble to risk most varieties. I wrote about my sweet neighbor and the hydrangeas in her Secret Garden here,
and the summer that was their rescue.


Here in my own garden I grow the native variety,
listed here at the Wisconsin Edu Extension site.
This Hydrangea will be covered in blooms,
every summer,
with only one requirement:
It requires pruning in the spring, because it blooms on
NEW WOOD. 



So, naturally, my thoughts have been 
floating around that word "pruning." 
Will I find a day
with sufficient strength
to be able to prune my hydrangeas this year?


And even more importantly, will I allow
the gentle hand of my Master Gardener
to take his tools
and prune away the parts of my life
that He knows need grooming?



The Gardener Must Prune

Early spring sun glows

Time to prune dead wood, purge, clean

Open space for fresh

--Bettie Gilbert



Sometimes when I am trimming my plants,
I imagine I can hear their whimpers
as I cut away the old,
and strip out the broken branches.
Other times I think I can hear 
a sigh
as I remove an errant branch
that was causing the whole plant
to be misshapen.



What does my Lord hear
from me
as He removes, and shapes,
and prunes my life?
A cry . . .
A whimper . . . 
Or a sigh of acceptance
as a way is cleared
for the new to come.



 "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."
John 15:2 NIV 




This #Haiku #Poetry is part of the challenge offered by Ronovan Hester at his siteRonovan Writes,
where the prompts given this week are "Spring&Fresh."
Pop over for a visit to read so many great Haiku this week!     



Join me also, where I'm linking with:
Meg Weyerbacher, #TeaAndWordTuesday   
Jennifer Dukes Lee, #TellHisStory