Walking Through Unfamiliar Territory

It has been months since I have made a blog post, three and a half months to be exact. I miss not blogging, but for those of us that live our lives know, that sometimes the day to day can bog us down. I wanted to write but, I was tired. I wanted to share but, I was busy. I thought about typing but, duties called. Now finally, I have a few minutes on a sunny September afternoon to post on what I am thinking at this moment in time.

Life is hard.

This statement probably doesn’t come as a surprise to many. You know. You feel it too. I’m currently fifty-one years old. Most days in my own head I feel younger, like I don’t belong in a body that has already lived through five decades. The truth is, I thought when I was in my fifties life would be easier. Young enough to still enjoy life, wise enough to appreciate it. But, it isn’t easier.

Kids grow up. They make their own decisions. It doesn’t matter whether I agree or disagree with choices being made. Sometimes the thought of that is freeing and at other times it hurts. Anyone that has grown, twenty-something children probably understands what I am saying. I have to accept that when I look at my children, I am looking into the faces of adults. Adults who are making their own way, in their own time, and I pray for wisdom for us all.

Family members who are facing difficult situations. Decisions that are stressful, diagnoses that debilitate, and an understanding that change is happening. Change. I hate that word right now. When the doctor gives the news it seems so unfair. So wrong. I try not to dwell on things, but the thoughts are always in the back of my mind tearing away at memories.

At times I am strong and fierce. I know myself and understand my role. At other times I am weak from the tears and the longing for what once was. On some days I am fine, happy, and all is well. I feel in control. Other days not so much. That is the thing. I am not in control. I never was. The thought of having control over my life is just a flimsy facade. On days when I let this realization take hold I am so very grateful that I know the ONE who is in control. The ONE who is not chained to calendars and clocks, who is not phased by the movement of time. He who knows each of us intimately and is never surprised by the doctor’s diagnoses, or children’s decisions. Jesus who never leaves me nor forsakes me, who said there is nothing that can keep us apart.

Thank you, Jesus.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… <my words: or doctor’s diagnoses, or growing up children, or autoimmune disease, or mistakes, or misunderstandings or…..anything>

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35, 37-39 ESV

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Kicking and Screaming

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Sometimes in life I find myself saying NO. No, to the way things have worked out. No, to plans not going my way. No, to living in the midst of the mess.

I tell myself, I deserve for things to go my way. Right?  I’ve already been through so much.

Unfortunately, many times, God has to pull me, kicking and screaming, into His plan. I only see my problems, but God in his infinite wisdom has already provided my Salvation…..for  anything I face today, tomorrow, ever.

In this intricately embroidered tapestry of life, I often see the frayed edges, loose strings and ugly knots, but God sees the beauty of His work. He views the bigger picture with all its vivid colors, interwoven relationships, and perfect plan.

Everyone knows there are challenges in this life. Some of those challenges are small daily obstacles, and others are seemingly insurmountable, but for those of us that are followers of Christ, I remind you, as I also remind myself, of Jesus’ words……..
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

His words make a difference.

They give hope.

They are life.

 

 

Will You Pray For Me?

IMG_2026.JPGThe whispered words are often spoken in the quiet….the question hanging in the air, being held there by the trials of this life.  Will you pray for me? Sometimes, the person can’t remain quiet, and instead of a soft plea, the words tumble out in frantic desperation. Will you pray for me? Hearts crack wide open, gushing pain, and fear, and sorrow. When our world feels as if it is leaning too far to one side, and it makes us sick with all the unknowns, we often ask, will you pray for me?

Or maybe, we don’t. Maybe we don’t tell. Maybe we don’t ask. Maybe we feel like our problems aren’t big enough to be prayed about. Or are not worthy enough of prayer. Could it be we are scared to let anyone know our struggles….because if we do, they might think less of us? How many have the mistaken idea that being a Christian means always having it all together? That we can’t share our hurts, our need for prayer…that we need to be strong, toughen up, and hold it in.

This week alone, I’ve had several friends and family tell me of their friends and family who are in need of prayer. A young child, chronically ill, requiring life changing surgery. Parents desperate for healing. A mother of young children just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer that has already begun to spread. Children heading back to school, parents hoping all goes well when their children are away. Safe travel. An upcoming wedding. A child whose cancer has returned. A freak accident that never should have happened…but, it did. A family member that has passed away. A child about to be born. So many things, almost overwhelming……… Almost.

But, those of us that are followers of Jesus Christ, adopted into God’s family, can bring our hurts, our joys, our concerns, and our uncertainties directly to Him. The Creator of the universe, the One who calls all the stars by name, the One who created life from nothing…..big enough for all of time and eternity…..and yet close enough to hear His children when they call out “Abba (Daddy), Father!”  He hears us. He sees us. He knows us. Even when we cannot put into words all the heaviness we hold in our hearts….He understands.

Some people have the mistaken idea that prayer is a passive thing. That it is a last resort. Instead of what it truly is…..the incredible opportunity to talk to the Almighty.

 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8: 26-27 NIV

Be Changed

The other morning I was driving the back country roads with no other cars in sight, on my way to a meeting at the next town over. As always, I was mesmerized by the blue sky, white fluffy clouds and the vastness of the sky out here. The fields, were vivid green with corn and soybean. The landscape dotted with white farmhouses and red barns. On mornings such as this, the world looks like a picture postcard of country living. I took that moment to thank God. Saying “thank you” is so simple, and yet, so profound.

In acknowledging the beauty of nature, I am, in fact, acknowledging the beauty and creativity of the Creator of it all. It is He, that is the giver of gifts.

Instead of focusing on all the things that are wrong, or uncomfortable, or boring in life, I choose to focus on the good. Make no mistake, choosing thankfulness is always a choice. When I focus on the problems, life can seem so small. It makes me feel grouchy and short with others, and causes worry. When I fill my mind with gratitude and thanksgiving, my world might not change, but I most definitely do. Might that be the reason why God tells us over and over again in His Word, to give thanks? So that we can experience, the joy?

Being thankful changes my perspective, and it changes me. I find myself much more appreciative of my life and all that is in it.  I’m not perfect, nor is my life. I’ve had my share of wonderful experiences and painful tragedies in the forty-eight years I’ve walked this earth. This day, choose to walk through your life with your hands open to receive all the gifts that God daily gives…….and, be changed.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.  1 Chronicles 16:34 NIV

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Rest, Peace, Joy

School is out for the summer, my students are excited. My grad school assignments for the week are completed. I have no appointments today. I’ve already done the grocery shopping for the week. Everything is pretty much done….so I am taking today as my mini vacation. I will blog. I will journal. I will play with the dogs. I will read. I will watch a marathon of X-Files, this evening, with my husband.

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I need today.

Time to breathe. Time to ponder. Time to do nothing, but just be still.

How many times have I been guilty of rushing around, finishing things, checking items off my lists, proofreading that paper, meeting with people to the point of exhaustion?

I appreciate  these days of doing nothing, which are few and far between. These days turn out to mean everything.

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Thank you, Lord……that I can find rest, and peace, and joy in You.

Psalm 62:5 “Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him.” Amen.

 

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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Fingerprints Of The Creator

The rogue raccoon is driving me nuts. He continues his nightly visits to the barn and eats all the barn cats’ food. Currently the dogs have him cornered under our house deck. They can’t get to him right now, but they are trying….because that is what raccoons do, and that is also what dogs do.

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I hear people say, “If only we (humans) were more like animals. They are loving and loyal.” Well, with some animals that may be true in certain circumstances, but for the most part animals act on instinct and live by the rule of survival of the fittest. My dogs love me, but they will kill that raccoon if they can ever reach it. My cats can be sweet and purring, but become furry assassins when there is a mouse, bug, or small snake involved. Chickens can be cruel. When one gets injured they peck at her when she is down. There is no loyalty or friendship amongst fowl. I could go on and on.

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Even in situations such as what is going on at my house this morning, God reminds me that I am loved. I am different than all His other creations. I am created in His image, and so are you. The image of the Almighty. Just take that in for a moment…..

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26 Then God said, “Let us (speaking to Jesus) make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1

Or the beloved verses of Psalm 139

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13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

You, my friend, have the fingerprints of the Creator, on your soul.