Tag Archive | change

Afterglow

Now it has been 7 months since my “reboot”.  God has been amazing! I’m sure you’re thinking, “she writes that every time!” It seems to me that I know God is omnipotent and omnipresent. My human brain cannot fathom some of the miracles I have seen! It could be a cultural concept – keeping God in a box. I am as normal as I ever have been, whatever that means! I am determined not to forget what miracle God has done for my family. This weekend, we celebrated community and life with our wonderful friends who happen to be neighbors, about 35 of them! One of the neighborhood contact points for September’s traumatic event told us how he wanted news, but knew that was NOT our priority. He was patient, but had to respond every few hours to emails and texts from others inquiring if there was any update. This was my first time to hear his side.  He was talking about how amazing my healing has been. I went from critical with not much chance, to I will live but what brain function will be lost, to walking, to leaving the hospital and flying home the next day. A rare outcome for someone with all the medical issues I had. God is faithful and I know He has more planned. I heard song lyrics: “the best is not done, the best is yet to come.” That is how life is with Abba, Jehovah Rapha, Elohim, our Heavenly Father. When it seems you are in a dry place, remember God has a “waiting room” for you while He is getting things prepared for His plan.

tulip_field_by_kitsunekari02-d3fftka

Scripture: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit” John 12:24

lg

Advertisements

Pruning is good for me!

Pruning

A good farmer knows how to prune his fruit trees, rose bushes, nut trees, etc. It’s work that’s done in the non-growing season. The tree ends up looking quite bare, almost dead. This past winter, I pruned my rose bush down to a 6 inch stub. Afterward, I was concerned that I had pruned too much and actually had killed the rose bush. Within a few weeks, I saw new shoots coming out of it! Now, I have beautiful roses blooming.

This is what God does to us. We aren’t always in a growing season. When the “off” season hits, that’s our pruning time. God is the Master Gardener. He uses skilled hands to tenderly and lovingly remove branches for maximum growth. And when spring comes, beautiful blooms. He takes off the things that are holding us back: complacency, un-forgiveness, hatred, gossip, etc.

For me, this pruning is not always fun. In fact, I like staying in my comfort zone. I have come to realize, that He knows what is best even when I cannot see spring on it’s way. Sometimes, I don’t get it until much later when I can look back at the difficult pruning.

I pray that I allow the pruning and it produces His beauty in me.

lg

“O HOLY NIGHT” written by Placide Cappeau; composed by Adolphe Charles Adams

baby-jesus-in-manger

Have you ever thought “God won’t use me because I’m nothing special?” I have, and I think most humans with a faith in God have thought and felt that! I’ll come back to this…

This season can bring me blues, but I love Christmas time! My parents and one of my siblings are no longer on earth. Those siblings who are on earth live far away from me in opposite directions! Being the last of eight children, I was accustomed to large holiday gatherings (not just at Christmas). At Christmas, Mom would make tons of treats: divinity, fudge, frosted cookies, gingerbread men. You get the idea. Then, on Christmas Eve around 9 p.m., we would gather in the living room. Dad would read about the birth of Christ from one of the Gospels. We would sing songs like “Away in a Manager” and “Silent Night”.  After this devotional time, we would munch on goodies and open our gifts. That was our family tradition.

As my family changes, tradition changes too. As I struggle with conflicted emotion over adult children and lost family, I desire God’s peace and joy daily.  And, I wonder how God can use me in this season? I am an average person. Does God use the average?

Let’s look at the history of the  song: “O Holy Night”.

Placide Cappeau was born in France 1808. Around age 8, he had a hand amputated. I am sure the other kids called him names and ostracized him. He grew up in spite of that hardship. He became a merchant of wine and spirits.  He was known for his poetry, not his church attendance, although he did attend church irregularly. In 1847, the parish priest asked Placide to write a poem for Christmas mass. He agreed and using Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth he wrote “Cantique de Noel”.  Placide felt it would make a wonderful song. So, he approached his friend (and well-known composer) Adolphe Charles  Adams to compose the music. Adolphe didn’t celebrate Christmas or Jesus as Messiah. But he accepted and three weeks later, at Christmas Eve mass, the song was performed. Knowing how popular the song is now, it is easy to imagine how well-received it was by the church. It became a staple of Catholic Christmas masses.

Then, two things happen: Placide left the church to become part of the socialist movement; and church leaders found out that Adophe was Jewish! Although the song was still popular, the Catholic Church decided not to sing it anymore.

Fast forward ten years: American Abolitionist John Sullivan Dwight made a personal connection with the lyrics. He translated it into English: “truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall break free for the slave is our brother and in His Name all oppression shall cease”. The song was embraced by Americans, especially The North during the Civil War.

You might think that’s three ordinary people that God used to bring a beautiful song into so many lives; THE END. Wrong! A violin-playing chemist and professor, Reginald Fessenden, designed a more efficient way to broadcast using radio waves. On December 24, 1906, he played “O Holy Night” on his violin during a radio broadcast for many to hear.

Now to recap: a purveyor of wine and spirits, a Jewish man, and a chemist-professor (no this isn’t a poorly written joke) were used by God to bring the story of Jesus’ birth to millions of people! Sometimes I need the iron skillet to the head for something to sink into my brain. God will use anyone who is obedient! I want to be obedient! Do you?

As you ponder that this Christmas season, ask God to reveal how He is using you – an ordinary person!

God’s blessing and peace to you and  your family!

lg

 

 

What? No Free Paper This Morning?

My husband and I were faithful newspaper subscribers for years.  As time marched on, however, we became disgruntled with the paper, as it didn’t supply enough international news for our taste, nor enough articles of any type that truly interested us.  As a result, we switched to The Wall Street Journal, which we happily devoured for a couple of years.   When our subscription price increased dramatically and our schedules no longer permitted us to do justice to all the items of interest in that publication, we cancelled it and planned on a newspaper-free household for the foreseeable future.   After all, I never really was wild about cleaning all the newsprint off our white kitchen table, and I could not afford to spend time on the crosswords that tempted me.

Our newspaperless state lasted about two weeks.   We suddenly found ourselves the recipients of an unsolicited weekend edition of our local paper.  Assuming it was a publicity or advertising ploy to induce us to re-subscribe, we waited for our newspaper carrier to ring the doorbell with a proposition that we reinstate ourselves as his customers.   No carrier came to the door.   Over the course of the next few months, we regularly received, first the weekend papers, then the Thursday paper, and ultimately the Wednesday paper every week.  We had never agreed to subscribe to anything, and no bill ever arrived in the mail.   We reasoned that perhaps the carrier simply was required to distribute a certain minimum number of papers each day, and we had been chosen as the lucky extra recipients.

This pattern has continued for a couple of years — until this week.   Yesterday morning, I looked out and discovered no paper on the driveway.   “Never mind,” I thought.   “Perhaps they decided to skip Wednesday for some reason.”  However, again this morning, there was no paper.  My instinctive response was to wonder what happened to “my” paper, as our carrier has a number to call if your paper is not delivered.  However, it probably would not be appropriate to call and complain that the carrier had failed to deliver a paper I never paid for….!  Then the shock at my own thinking pattern struck me.  Suddenly I realized that I had developed a sense of entitlement to something that was delivered to me at no cost.   True enough, I had not  ORDERED the paper. However, I certainly had enjoyed clipping the coupons, scanning a few interesting articles, and attempting to complete the Sudokus.  I had become accustomed to reading the paper most days of the week and actually wondered why it wasn’t there this morning. 

The parallel between this situation and my attitude toward God was undeniable.   How often does God bless me with something pleasurable or surprising, something I did not request but certainly enjoy on a routine basis?   More often than I can count.  For one, it never occurred to me to ask Him for most of the benefits I enjoy; yet He daily invents little blessings that I could never have planned for myself at the moment they drop into my life (unexpected hugs from a child, kind words from a friend I haven’t talked to in awhile, a bank of flowers beside the road, four jalapeño plants my non-capsicum-eating husband bought to plant in the garden).  More than that, how often does He bless with me something I never paid for and certainly do not deserve?   All the time.   He allowed me to be born to parents who love me; He gave me a husband I not only love, but actually LIKE; He forgives me of every sin; He knows my needs before I ask; He forgets all the mistakes I have made; He knows my desperately wicked heart and promises to change it, even though I haven’t ever and cannot do anything to deserve His mercy.  He’s the Friend that sticks closer than a brother, whether I remember to talk with Him or not.  Then, when something I have been praying about doesn’t go my way in the time frame I specify, I have the nerve to demand, “What?   No paper today?”!   THAT definitely gives me food for thought.  (See 1 John 2:12; Matthew 6:8; Isaiah 43:25; Jeremiah 17:9; Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Cor. 3:18; 2 Timothy 2:13.)

Father, THANK You for all the blessings, both small and large, both the ones I’ve requested and the ones I never dreamed of asking You for.   Thank You for the things You’ve given me that I never realized I needed or wanted.   Forgive me for developing an entitlement mentality toward YOU, as You do not owe me ANYthing — yet You chose and continue choosing to keep on giving to me anyway.   Thank You that it is Your good pleasure to give me the Kingdom!  (See Luke 12:32)


I Don’t Want to Grow Up!

One of numerous vivid memories of my early childhood has spoken much to me of late.   When I was about two and a half years old, I remember running toward the hall closet where my mother kept a pile of shoes readily accessible.  Summertime was approaching; the weather was getting warmer, and I had a sudden impulse to get out my favorite sandals from the previous summer and put them on.  They were white leather, and I was very excited at the thought of wearing them again.  As I approached the closet to get them out of storage, my mother asked me what I was doing.   I replied with delight, “I am getting my sandals!”  To my chagrin, she responded with laughter that I couldn’t possibly wear them that summer, as my feet had grown, and the sandals would be too small for me.   Decades later, I still remember that disappointment.   What is odd, is that I do not remember whether my parents bought me new sandals or not (although they most likely did!).   I simply remember the sadness of not being able to wear the ones I had worn before, the most comfortable and prettiest white sandals in the world, the sandals I loved best. Moreover, I didn’t really understand how my feet could be too big for the sandals that had fit me perfectly. 

The process of growth continued to be a mystery to me.  (“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”  Mark 4:26-27)  When I was in junior high, I began  to look forward to growing up, because I had begun to grasp that privileges would accompany maturity.  Later, as a college student, I realized that simply growing older wasn’t always characterized by an increase in maturity level!  People may age physically, but maturity is not guaranteed, for, unlike the physical aging process,  gaining wisdom and maturity requires cooperation from the individual!  I also noticed that I wasn’t always terribly eager to cooperate with the maturing process myself, as some of the responsibilities associated with growing up were not so pleasant!

As a young adult who appeared younger than my actual years, I could get by with a little immaturity now and then.   However, I ultimately found that I needed to quit resisting the process and begin to cooperate with the “forward march” of time!   Whether I liked it or not, I had real-life obligations and was not a child (or even a college student — an excuse for much!) anymore.  Behaving in a manner that was NOT commensurate with my phase in life would be equivalent to cramming my toddler-sized feet into the baby’s sandals.   My immaturity would be evident to all, no matter how insistent I was on remaining in the former phase of my development or how much I had enjoyed the previous season!

As Christians, I believe we are guilty of the same kind of resistance to the maturing processes God uses to shape us into His image.   We love the season of childhood with our Daddy, where He caters to our every need and holds us tenderly by the hand.   We love learning to know Him better and experiencing His power.   We long to do great things for Jesus (kind of like playing the part of a superhero when we were children).   We imagine that we are more spiritual than we actually are; the time is then ripe for God to test and hone us.   When that process began full force in my life, I longed to return to that toddler phase and wear my spiritual little white baby sandals.   They were so pretty on my feet, and they were perfectly comfortable.   I didn’t ASK for bigger shoes — just for a little more attention, perhaps!   Nonetheless, in the Body of Christ, we ultimately must repent of wanting to wear our old clothing that no longer fits us.   We need God’s forgiveness for wanting to use His power without true maturity of character and accountability in relationship.   Trials are definitely painful, but they allow His DNA in us to replicate exponentially, as we are compelled to abandon self-indulgence if we ever hope to survive the trial!  

Father, help me to abandon the trappings of past seasons that I treasure and move on into the next phase of my journey with You!   Don’t allow me to resist the tug of Your Spirit to see You work victory in the face of fresh challenges.   Deliver me from the fear of the unknown!  You are with me!  I DO want You to transform me more and more into Your image!  Daddy, help me to strap on the new sandals You have purchased for me and take up the weapons of truth You are putting into my hand, in Jesus’ Name!

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:18

” Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  1 Corinthians 15:51-54