Sunday, November 28, 2010

Does Tomorrow Worry You?

The last few years I've become more aware of the fleetingness of life. My dad went to be with the Lord in July after four years of physical struggle. When he suffered his stroke during his open heart surgery, the lasting effects raised havoc every day. He needed every ounce of mental and physical energy for each step, every trip to the car, and every physical therapy visit. Every motion needed to walk, eat, get out of bed, use the facilities, or take a shower, required more energy than he possessed. 

Then God took him home.

Some may wonder, was it worth the effort? I'm not sure how my dad would answer but I can tell you that the last four years of his life were a gift to us. During that time we came to know a whole different side of him. We became acquainted with the parts of him that were buried under the weight of life's sorrow and hurt. We saw laughter that had been muffled, joy that hid under sorrow, gentleness and tears that had been stifled under a hard shell. Yes, we see those years as a gift.

So, I am more aware that there is no promise for tomorrow—other than God promises to be there with me. I don't know what I'll face—sickness, accident, death, sorrow, unemployment, financial worries...the possibilities are endless. Yet, in the midst of whatever I face God says, “I will be with you.”

As we begin the Advent season, the coming of Christ as a baby and as the Savior we will look at the words that Mary heard at the Angel's visit. In Luke chapter one, we read the story leading up to the birth of Christ. The angel Gabriel visits Mary, a teenage girl in the town of Nazareth and says, “The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)

Whatever we face today. Whatever we might fear for tomorrow, these words apply to us too.

Today and in whatever tomorrow brings....He is with you!

Till next time and as we prepare our hearts to make room for Him,
(For the next few weeks we will take a look at the Angel's words to Mary and how they apply to our lives today)


Sunday, November 21, 2010

His Grace Is Enough!

My Grace Is Enough
I have had one of those weary weeks. My energy level is low. My to do list seems big. And, when those two things intersect, the enemy has a field day. He knows my places of vulnerability and it seemed as though every fragment of hurt and weakness rose to the surface saying, “Here I am, remember me?” That's when I needed to call an emergency meeting this morning—alone with God.

Unfortunately it isn't always my first reaction. Too often I slide easily into to self-sufficiency mode and try all the harder in my own strength to do it all. Wrong answer. The harder I try, the more that grace is squeezed out of the equation. I can do it. Of course, I don't really say that out loud, but that's what my heart hears as my brain kicks into survival mode.

Well, I can't do it! I can't do anything without Him who empowers me by His Spirit. I don't have any words of wisdom. I don't have any burden bearing capability. Without His life breathing Spirit I am empty inside, like the chaff of wheat that blows away. And when I try to go it alone, it is like becoming my own savior—like that's going to work!!?

Of course, God is so amazing. He timed a local women's retreat for this past weekend that I just 'happened' to sign up for (I truly believe in His sovereignty—He knew about my need before I did). The first thing I needed to do when I arrived was choose from a variety of mugs to use for the weekend. There it was, shades of pink with the word GRACE imprinted on the side. And, inside the rim the words from 2 Corinthians 12:9: My grace is enough. That evening I came face to face with my lackluster heart and knew I needed to surrender the stuff I had been holding onto.

So, as I unpack my baggage this morning, my heart feels a little lighter. I want to rest in His care, knowing that He will see to my needs. And, I want to be sure to kick the enemy in the backside because his condemnations are not valid in the presence of Christ. He is the father of lies and I refuse to be duped by his wily ways.

In Christ, I am forgiven; and so I can forgive. In my weakness, He gives me strength. I am set free by the blood of the Lamb and invited into the presence of God through His righteousness. Because His Grace is enough....


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Resident Woodpecker

I have a resident woodpecker who is making a nuisance of himself! Instead of pecking his heart out on any of the thousands of trees I have surrounding my house (yes, I live in the woods), it has decided that the clapboard siding and painted trim are more attractive. Needless to say I am not happy. It has pecked holes in the cranberry trim and continues to come back for more. Why, you might ask? The bigger question is, what can I do about it? I can't be here 24 hours a day to shoo away lunatic woodpeckers.

Then I got to thinking. Maybe if I hung tin pie plates it would keep him away. So, I put some strategically placed shepherd hooks and tied dental floss from the tin plates. As I write this the plates are waving and clanking against the hooks. And, wonder of all wonders, NO MR. WOODPECKER!

How often do we have those irritating things that we just can't seem to get rid of? We know they are doing damage but we are at a loss for a way to keep them from coming back. Is there a spiritual pie plate that we can put in a strategic spot that will keep them away? I know this is a stretchy metaphor but I think I may have something here. Identify the pesky thing. Set up a flashy signal, one that makes a little ruckus of its own, and maybe we can be free of the ongoing trouble.

What kinds of annoyances do you have? Any that you need a tin plate for?

Being proactive to keep destructive annoyances away is important. It could keep your house from crumbling.

Pass me another tin plate....


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Do-Overs... Editing Life's Blunders

Don't you love cut and paste?!
I've been wearing my editor's hat for the last couple of weeks. I love being able to get articles print-ready. Copy. Paste. Arrange whole paragraphs with a click of a mouse. Do overs are so much easier than when I needed to use Wite Out®.
Makes me wish I could edit my life like that too. As much as I would like to erase things I am not proud of, I can't undo what's been done. Once a word is spoken, I can't delete it. It already reached its intended target. I can apologize and I should, but the wound remains. I can be pretty hard on myself when I blow it. It's not easy to feel forgiven. I need to be willing to learn from my mistakes and move on. I may not be able to do-over, but I can start fresh.

One thing that amazes me is God's willingness to white out past wrongs. He says as far as the east is from the west; that's how far he has removed the junk we have done from us. He tosses them into the depths of the sea and remembers them no more. He washes our dark stains so they become as white as snow. Amazing. No one else in the world has that power. No other religious figure reaches down to us, pulls us out of the muck of our own making and gives us a new Spirit.
And, all the junk we did do, he redeems it, makes it count for something. Our pain is turned into power when we are able to help someone else who struggles. Our heart becomes flesh rather than stone and we begin to see things through God's eyes. He takes the broken shards of what was and creates something new and beautiful and whole from them. And through the scars and cracks, His light shines for others to see.

When we come to Christ, we have the chance of a do-over. A new life. A new heart. A new creation. Amazing!


Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 1:18, 43:25; Jeremiah 31:34; Micah 7:18-19; 2 Corinthians 5:17