Like Sand Through The Hourglass…

 

 

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Like sand through the hourglass….so are the days of my life. (Hmmmm, I think I may have heard that phrase somewhere)

I turned forty-eight yesterday. Getting older hasn’t really bothered me, per se. I mean, what’s the alternative, right? I’m not upset about being just two years away from FIFTY, but I do find it rather shocking. The other day, some classmates from high school were talking about having a thirtieth reunion this Fall, for the class of 1986. In my mind, the eighties were last week. Does that prove I’m aging?!

 

Is my life perfect? No. Whose is? We all live in a world that is full of great joys, and intense tragedies, highs and lows, ups and downs. One can’t get away from that. The truth is, each different season of life is special and unique in its own way. I really would not want to go back in time. (Well, a good friend of mine posted a picture of the two of us when we were twenty-one. Although I like the wisdom that comes with age, I wouldn’t mind still having the bod of a twenty-one year old….) In the midst of the every day, I find myself stopping and appreciating. There is a lot to be said for being in the moment, and going through one’s life with eyes wide open. Out here in rural Ohio, I often find myself driving down back country roads to get to my various destinations. I admire the green, green, grass, the bright blue sky,  the open space, the black and white cows that are trying to nibble on the other side of the fence, and the hawk circling high over a field. I think about my family that loves me and whom I love right back, a husband who makes me laugh, kids who are now young adults, the comfortable house I live in with land to roam, and my (fairly decent) health.

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It has been about five or six years ago since I first read Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. (you can read my posts here and here) Her book spoke to me about what it means to be truly thankful for all the ways that God blesses. I will admit, it is a struggle some days to see the blessings when all I want to do is be a grump. When the cat pukes and I have to clean it for the umpteenth time, or the flowerbeds are overgrown with weeds, and the dog digs up my last surviving bush. The days when my children grow up and become more and more independent and I realize my opinion isn’t as important as it used to be. Broken dishes, broken promises, and broken hearts. Some days I force myself to stop, breathe, and start counting out loud, all the ways I am thankful, and all the ways I am loved. God is so good. Even on the hard days.

One day it truly dawned on me (pun intended), that I most likely, have more days behind me, than I do ahead of me. It is highly unlikely that I will live to be one hundred. You want to know something? I’m okay with that. That might sound weird, especially in a society that is so driven by youth and beauty. My days are just as important to me now, maybe even more so, than when I was in my twenties. I know I appreciate them more. I don’t pretend to have all the answers to life’s questions, and on many days I am struggling to understand just like everyone else.

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Today I am able to say that life is good and I am happy.

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I AM

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The word am is the first person singular of be.                                                                          A name for Him, whose love set me free.

This morning in church, singing to the great I AM                                                                    The Alpha and Omega and The Risen Lamb.

The One who was, and is, and is to come.                                                                                  Great Holy Father who calls Heaven home.

For always and forever more, across time and space…                                                              A story of redemption and His amazing grace.

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Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM“; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” Exodus 3:13-14

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” John 8:58

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ( unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. John 3:16 (Amplified)

 

 

 

 

 

 

People Of The Cross

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The picture was difficult to look at, twenty-one orange clad men kneeling before their executioners. Egyptian Christians. Their executioners called them “the people of the cross”.  In those moments before death, I wonder what was going through their minds? They realized this was it….their entire lives came down to these last moments. Their deaths were imminent. Did they cry? Did they scream? Did they plead for their lives?

Or did they kneel silently, knowing the truth?

The truth that although their bodies would be killed, their spirits could not. The moment they ceased to breathe in this life, they would take their first breath in their new life. With Jesus, the One who died first, willingly….for them. For us. Before we even knew who He was. He loved us, though the world knew Him not.

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.… John 1:9-11 

The people of the cross……they know Him.

They worship Him. He, alone, is worthy.

They are martyred for the privilege of following the One true God and His Son, Jesus the Christ.

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25-26 

As fellow “followers of the cross”, we know this temporary life is not all there is…..and it is all temporary whether an infant takes one breath in this world, or an individual lives to be one hundred years old….in the scope of eternity it is all short. We are in this world, but not of this world. We are on a journey, during the years we have here, and we each need to learn to travel light.

God included in His word, a history, a reminder, found in the book of Hebrews. None of this, that we see today on the news, is really new. We, believers, come from a long line of the faithful. Every time I read chapter eleven in Hebrews I am filled with awe and reverence.

….All these people <Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses…> were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  Hebrews 11:13-16

…..And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:32-40 

Christ followers. Christians. People of the Way. Believers.

PEOPLE OF THE CROSS.

 

 

Life Becomes Just A Little Bit Sweeter

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I feel the cold immediately. As soon as I open the door the frigid air fills the opening between cozy warmth and bitter winter winds. The only part of me that is actually showing is my eyes, and that is necessary only to see where I am going. The scarf, wrapped snuggly around my neck and over my mouth and nose, keeps my face warm and keeps my breath from freezing. A lined hat pulled down over ears, a thick coat and insulated gloves. This is my winter wardrobe. I am used to putting on and pulling off the layers several times a day. That is how it is when one has dogs to walk and animals to feed and things to do.

Winter sky, a brilliant blue, full of white, cottony clouds, stacked on top of each other and full of snow. I snap a picture with my eyes, and file it away in my memory. Snow blowing across the back fields, each flake chasing the next, racing to see which can whirl away first. I am mesmerized by the fierce beauty that winter holds. The wind whips hard against me, leaving me gasping. Facing directly into the wind and snow is not for the faint of heart….challenging Winter usually leaves one huddled and chattering.

The fence corner posts, grayed by the weather, stand strong in the slamming wind, not to be broken or bent. They look lonely on the edges of the field, standing guard over the property. I love to look out over the back field, all the way to where the ground meets the horizon. It is one of the most peaceful views, throughout all the seasons. Another picture for my memory.  I notice a little brown field mouse scurry by and dive into some straw near the chicken coop….he wedges himself into a little hole. I wish him well in his endeavor to find a warm haven.

I am thankful.

Thankful for my layered clothes. Thankful for my cozy house. Thankful for this beautiful season of cold, for without it I could never fully appreciate warmth.  Thankful for the ability to stop and be grateful in the moment, to see the beauty in all things. I am acutely aware that, that is a gift.

With that knowledge life becomes just a little bit sweeter, even when standing in the bitter winter winds.

For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.… Psalm 19:1-2 

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On Cruise Control

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It is already Wednesday evening. The week is half over, and I’m not even sure if I ever got fully started. Can you relate?  I’m sure you know what I mean. Sometimes I go on “cruise control”, do what needs to be done, all part of the regular routines of life. I try to stop and really see the moments, but all too often I walk around with blinders on, completely focused on the urgent. Every day happenings can become emergencies in no time, at least it feels that way.

As one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, mentioned in her book, One Thousand Gifts, life is not an emergency…and we shouldn’t live it like it is. I agree with her completely, and yet, here I sit on a Wednesday night. Depleted. Worn out. Just plain tired.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 38-42

I need to be more like Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet. Resting.  I am rereading what Jesus said to Martha. I’m letting it sink in. His words to her are just as relevant today as they were when He first spoke them.

He Has Me Covered

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I tend to be a very visual person, so I find myself always looking at things around me, I notice even the most minute details…..and I think on those things. That is just how I am. The views always capture my attention, allowing me calmness and contemplation in an otherwise hectic life. With that said, this past week I was on my way back from the barn, crossing through newly fallen snow. Even though it was bitterly cold, and the wind stung my face, I took a moment and gazed over the back pasture, where the fence touches the horizon. The gray winter sky buried itself in the snow making it difficult to discern which was which. Yesterday evening, I was walking the dogs after dinner, the village water tower was silhouetted against the burning pinks and purples of a frigid January sunset. The night, here, is filled with a million stars, they are a cold and crisp sparkle on a quiet ebony night. Although I try to describe the views, I feel I can’t do it justice. This area allows me to see God’s hand in everything. I spend many of my moments enjoying His creativity.

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The thought crossed my mind this week, that I never could have imagined all of this. My life, like most, has had many twists and turns. There were times when figurative doors slammed shut on what I thought was the next chapter in my story. If someone had told me ten years ago, where I would be, what I would be doing, I would have never guessed I’d be living in rural Ohio, in the middle of what was at one time a farm field. I had no idea of the man I would meet and marry, after five years of widowhood. I could not have known the friends I’d make, the lives that would intersect with mine. I am reminded that God is the Author and Finisher of my story. He alone knows the future, be it by one minute or decades, or for all eternity. My life is literally in His hands.

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I know that God loves me. I know that His plans are perfect. I know that He always has my best interest at heart, and I am His beloved. I am able to relax, and know that He has me covered…..and I can rest in that knowledge.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4 

Join us over at Beloved Brews! The writing prompt for today is: share what inspired you about God this week or share a story/insight/experience as God’s beloved.

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