"I hold on to You for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post..." Psalm 63

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day freedom...

I'm not a lover of war
but I am a lover of freedom
 and sometimes you can't have one without the other
"I have never advocated war except as a means of peace."  
Ulysses S. Grant

{Plaque beside my grandfather's grave..}

I don't wish for any American to have to take up arms to defend my freedom
but I am beyond grateful that so many have willingly done so.

To those 
past 
present
future
who carry arms for me and my family..
THANK YOU

All we have of freedom, all we use or know -
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.
~Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue, 1899

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Fighting Joy

I preach it
I try to choose it
but there are days I just fight to feel it.

JOY

On one hand I KNOW that I have no right not to choose it
just one look around me...
one really long, good look
and I KNOW I have no other choice 
but to sing thanks deeply 
and find JOY.

But since this is my space
 I'm deeming it a safe place
to just
be honest...

Today I'm just throwing it out there
that it is hard

I'm sitting on my back porch 
alone

I love it back here,
it's quiet
except for the song of the birds
and the flow of the creek.

It's my favorite place to sit 
and be still

But some days...like today...
I'm tired of sitting here alone.

All three of my kids are otherwise occupied with jobs or friends tonight
{don't get me wrong I encourage it,
it's what they should to be doing}
But every once in a while the alone time is TOO much alone

And in those times the enemy finds a way to remind me that the time is coming soon...
they will all be gone
and I'll be alone every day.

It is what we raise our children to do...
to find their wings
and use them to start new things.

It is GOOD
It's the way it's supposed to be.

But we weren't meant to raise children alone
and then be alone again when their voices no longer echo in the halls.

We parent forever...
we're never really done, 
but I can see the years that they need me daily, drawing to a close,
in weak moments I look to what that means for me..
and I don't like what I find.

I fight the thought that while my friends will be enjoying their empty nests with their husbands,
mine will be spent in an empty house...
I try not to even let the thoughts be completed in my head,
but they are there
and they are real.

And I dig deep to remember
that this is not the way to choose JOY
all the wishing
and hoping
and wanting
and the forgetting what is right in front of me still.

Some days it's hard to turn off the direction of my thoughts
to rally
and
pull up the boot straps-
 because that's what I've learned to do.

Some days I just want to wonder...
to feel the pain
and just wonder.

It doesn't accomplish anything
but it reminds me I'm human.
And that I'm in need of words from the Only One who really understands

"For God is greater than our worried hearts 
and knows more about us than we do ourselves."
I John 3:20


I know well that there is a difference between being alone and being lonely.
I know that it, too, is a choice I must make...

Amidst all of these things that are a constant, 
pushed way back in the back of my head
I know that somehow even this is good.
God deems it so

"We are assured and know that all things work together and are
 [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God
and are called according to [His] design and purpose."
Romans 8:28

and so I rally
and regroup
and train my thoughts on things that are of better use.

I am not asked to borrow worry from my tomorrows,
but to live out thankfulness in my todays

I find rest in knowing
HE knows
HE cares
HE understands
and 
He can handle my 
"why's" and "what if's"
 for today
that is enough

"I call to God; God will help me. 
At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh deep sighs—
He hears, He rescues. 
My life is well and whole...God hears it all."
Psalm 55:16


Friday, May 27, 2011

Flowers and funerals...

Things are blooming over here...
Growing up in this house we didn't have as many flower beds...
{I do remember having to weed the few we had
and I'm sure I complained the whole time}
But, maybe it was when my sister and I left to start our own families
that mom decided she needed a project
 grass became mulch
and 
a few plants became many.
 And as a result,
last week I cut bunches of these
and this week, 
bunches of these

I wish you could see how HUGE some of these peony blooms are

they don't have much of a scent
but I do enjoy seeing them scattered all over the house.
"God loved the flowers and invented soil.  Man loved the flowers and invented vases." 
Jacques Deval

It appears as though next week these will be gracing the house...
"I'd rather have roses on my table
 than diamonds on my neck."  
Emma Goldman

They're really beautiful..and I can take no credit whatsoever for them.
I often say that all the good stuff you see around here was inherited.
{Thanks, mom!}

It strikes me how like our own lives these flowers are.
Beautiful
and
Fragile
and 
short-lived
Even the most prolific gardener cannot create a crop that holds life and blooms on forever.
Though they are appreciated and enjoyed,
all blooms fade and die eventually.

On Wednesday I attended my FOURTH funeral in the last four months.
Two of them in one week.
All four were great women of faith who left quite a legacy for their families and friends.
I've had enough death for the year.
I'd like it very much if I didn't attend another funeral ever..
or at least for a long time.

 But, there is something about sitting at a funeral that makes you put life into perspective.
It is so short, so unexpected.
And we waste so much time thinking that this is all there is.
But what if it's not...
what if we labor hard
and stress out much
what if we spend our life seeking the next
treasure 
or 
pleasure
and, in an instant we are suddenly gone
and all that we poured our energy into
stays behind.
What then?

What if the world expends energy on trying to disprove the existence of 
God
and 
Heaven
and succeeds in taking all mention of them out of our lives...
and it is wrong - all of it just a trick to get our minds off of what is True.
What then?

Will we regret the things we gave our 
time
attention
money
worship
praise
hearts
and wish we had listened to the Voice of Truth instead?

 Sadly, it'll be too late to change our minds
we will have already chosen our path.

I've already made my choice
and I'm quite confident it is the Right One.
But so many around me have not...
and how I live my life from birth to death may affect the way they see the Right One.

The end comes for all of us
sometimes we have the blessing of planning it all out
and sometimes we don't.
But, the one thing we all have in common
is that it WILL come.

So how will we spend our days of waiting?
What will we do with our remaining time?


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Reality check

I sat next to my sister tonight at the third funeral we've attended in less than six months.  I'm not a fan of them...but all three of them were beautiful women who left behind the aroma of Christ in their wake.  
And each one left a deep impression on me.  

When you sit through someone else's life celebration you cannot help but wonder what words your own life speaks...and if they are words that will matter when you are tucked away in a beautiful box.

Funerals are a good reality check.

No matter how hard you work
or what riches you accumulate
No matter what you've spent your life doing
or how well you did it...
We all eventually must leave this temporary world
and every one of us leaves it the same way
empty-handed

All we have leftover 
are the lives that we touched 
and the legacy that we left.

Someone else gets all the stuff.

"In the same way let your light shine in front of people. 
Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:16

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Janet...

I've neglected writing this week.
 I've spent the week
 getting a farmer's tan,
 catching up with a few friends,
 driving the kids here, there
...and back again
And a host of other things that seem unimportant, 
but really are just a part of this life I call 
normal

Whilst I carry on with my "normal" routine
and one day turns into the next
my thoughts drift often to a beautiful woman I know 
who is fighting a hard battle with cancer.

Inevitably, 
my thoughts turn to questions
and I try to wrap my head around 
God's ways.

It makes no human sense that someone with a heart so lovely should suffer so deeply.
It makes no sense that the man who calls her "Sweetie" should stand helplessly by
as his life shifts off kilter. 
A mother and father watch the child they gave life,
fight for her next breath.
The ones who call her "Sister",
who made mud pies and caught fireflies with her
now stand by unable to do anything 
but watch.
Countless children whom she taught and shared Jesus with
look on with eyes wide with wonder.

What is going on in the mind of a God who is a Father,
who watches on while His child suffers?
How does He bear it,
what makes Him hold back His hand of restoration?
How could THIS be good
and purposeful
and all a part of His plan?

****************************

I wrote this last night and just couldn't really finish my thoughts...
today I have a new perspective...
this morning I woke to find this woman has found her healing.

"We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on 
our heavenly bodies like new clothing."
II Corinthians 5:2

She has a new ancient home...
It's the home that was created for her before she was born.
It is the place she lived her life longing for.

She was welcomed there this morning in what I can only imagine
was quite a grand affair.
I'm picturing some other dear women she knew who have traveled there just this year.
I imagine they were waiting to see her
to catch up and show her around...

But I wonder if she even noticed them
for the glorious Light of the One she's lived her whole life praising
must have captured her attention first.
My mind's eye sees her bowing and singing
getting all choked up with words...

Her healing has come at last...
and her body is whole.
She is spending her first day in heaven...
reveling in its' beauty
and 
the majestic presence of her Saviour.

We grieve for us,
for her family
but 
a second glance makes us sit up and take notice
that she is where she belongs...
and she finally knows the fulfillment of her life's longing.

I see her greeted with a warm hug,
an intimate walk,
questions to ask
and answers to finally be revealed.

She sees the big picture that we are too finite to see...
She hears angelic singing
and 
walks with Jesus.

Back here,
in her old home
we cannot fathom the outcome.
It's a mystery
And I'll be honest and say I don't like it.
And, so, as I've done many times in my life...
I am forced to go back to what I know to be Truth.

"I don't think the way you think.
   The way you work isn't the way I work.
         God's Decree.
For as the sky soars high above earth,
   so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
   and the way I think is beyond the way you think."
Isaiah 55

I hurt for her family
and grieve with the little people who loved her much
But would I deny her the 
healing
beauty
perfection
Glory
new body
face to face reunion
Joy
How could I?
She has found her home
and she shares it with the 
Ancient of Days
Alpha and Omega
Jehovah
Yahweh
Creator
Abba
Almighty
The Glorious One
who could deny her that?

 "For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling,  because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  For we live by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it...."
II Corinthians 5

Welcome home, Janet...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why not?

I promised myself last August that I was done with it forever.  
That I would no longer be a host to such madness
and only visit other people's madness.

I'm here to say I am eating my words.
THIS is happening tomorrow...
The only twist this year is that it will NOT be at my house.  

My friend Janelle at Three Men and Their Ladies is having a HUGE yard sale with over 15 women. 
She's done it before and she literally STOPS TRAFFIC in the small town of Strasburg.  
When she asked if I wanted to join her, my immediate response was "NO!",
but a few weeks later I changed my mind because;
  1.  I looked in my garage and realized that our two economy sized cars barely have room to breathe in there, due to boxes of merchandise left over from Lulu & Tutz.
  2.  My kids and I are doing an in-country missions trip this summer and the down payment is due now.
  3. If I do it now, I won't EVER have to do it again...right?
I've adjusted my attitude from dread to resignation.
And, next week, when the shelves in my garage are completely organized
and our first down payment on the trip is paid
I might even say I am glad I did it.






The weather is supposed to cooperate for us, 
so come check us out here:

128 Lancaster Avenue
Strasburg
Friday 4-7pm
Saturday 7-2pm

You may even find something for your Mother...

Who, by the way, deserves a little extra attention this weekend because if she's anything like mine,
She's bailed you out a time or two.

Happy Mother's Day, mom!


Monday, May 2, 2011

God is still God...

even when things make absolutely no sense.

Our world is constantly changing.
Wars rage on
Tornadoes destroy
Hurricanes and Tsunamis take captives
Promises are broken
Questions go unanswered
Cancers steal
Accidents break things
Bodies fail
Leaders fall
Evil rises
nothing really stays in one place.

I went to bed just as the murmurings of the news started
Bin Ladin has been found and killed.
I awoke to more of the same news
and to parades, parties and celebrations.


But I can't help but wonder what has really changed?
Vindication might feel good
but it might also start a host of new wars
One man did not make our world unsafe
 he did not act alone
People are still dead,
families still mourning their losses.
We are far from having world peace just because an evil man has been eliminated.

"And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don't panic. 
Yes, these things must take place, but the end won't follow immediately."
Mark 13:7


God is still God
He knew we'd be tempted to trust ourselves to take matters into our own hands.
And He knew we'd never really eliminate the threat of war and uncertainty.
He knew that while some are out celebrating,
others would be home fighting other wars-
fighting cancer 
fighting poverty
fighting aftermath of raging storms


I'm thankful that God is still God
because I have my own questions
things I just don't understand
questions my children ask
that I cannot answer
but to say
God is God
and HE understands.


He sees what we don't
He plans ahead and walks us through the unknown
He only gives us one tiny peek at a time-
He knows we can't handle the whole picture at once.


Questions aside,
GOD is still GOD
and that is enough for me today.


I continue to add up His blessings,
even amidst the unknown.
He is still God
still faithful
still present
still lovely


His eye still stays on ME
{on YOU}
all the while it is staying on the events of the world


THAT
is amazing 


THAT
is why I know Peace


God is still God
and all is right 
even when it feels wrong 


God is still God 
when good people hurt
when life is unfair
when the next breath is too hard to take

He still IS...



"God is in the sadness and the laughter, in the bitter and the sweet. 
There is a Divine purpose behind everything — and therefore a Divine presence in everything."
Neale Donald Walsch

{Be still, and know that I am {still} God!
      I will be honored by every nation.
      I will be honored throughout the world.
}
Psalm 46:10
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