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.

 

 

You Might Be The One To Make A Difference

 

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I read something not long ago about the church. This particular article focused on families that have children with disabilities. Being a special education teacher, and a vocal advocate for those with disabilities, these kinds of articles always catch my attention.

I have heard over and over again from parents who have children on the autism spectrum, about how they want to go to church. They want to worship with fellow believers. They love singing both praise music as well as old, familiar hymns. They want to quiet their souls so they can hear a word from God. The thing is, they don’t always feel welcomed when they cross over the threshold of the church building.

Oh, it is not always the words that say, “You’re not welcome”. Sometimes it is the stares. Sometimes it shows itself as impatience with or fear of someone who looks or acts differently. Sometimes it isn’t intentional. Sometimes people just don’t know what to do, how to act, or what to say…..so they don’t do anything.

And with that, the door slams shut on a vast mission field.

Autism. Intellectual Disability. Learning Differences. Anxiety or Depression. Emotional Issues. A different physical appearance. ADD/ADHD. Health Impaired. Chronic medical issues. Sometimes the disability is obvious, but often times it is not………..until it is.

As followers of Christ, He calls us to love our neighbors…whether they are literally next door, down the street, on the job, at school…..or at church on Sunday morning.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

This Sunday open your eyes and look around your church. See people.

You never know……you might be the one to make a difference in someone’s life.

The world is desperate for those who are willing step out of their comfort zones.

I Am, Because He Is!

Are you like me? Do you find yourself looking in the bathroom mirror while you are getting ready in the morning, giving yourself a “pep talk” before the day officially begins? Sometimes the pep talk is meant to pump up my motivation for that day. Other times the talk just falls flat. It feels empty, and I am left wondering who I am and what is my purpose?

Who am I, really? Who are you? Am I really anything special? The question hangs there, in the early morning air, leaving me wondering.

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Then Jesus speaks to me and my heart responds.

He tells me…….

I am loved.  —  We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us…(nothing) can separate us from the love of God. Romans 8:37-39

I am strong.   — I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

I am wonderful.  — I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

I am wanted.  — God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 

I am……..because, HE IS!

God, Let Me See You!

This is something I wrote back in 2012. I was thinking about this very story, the other day. How many times do I long for God to reveal Himself to me? Do you? If so, maybe this post is exactly what you need to read today.

 

Let Me See You! 

And God

Aren’t you here, right now? And can’t I see You, as You move in the every day? Are You not still the powerful Elohim? I look at Genesis and am still in awe of it….right from the beginning.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NIV

You created… out of nothing. No one else can do that. No one, but You. How mighty are the works of Your hands!

You are God, that created all things and called them good. You are the same God that creates all good things in my life.

On days when my eyes only see the gray of You, the dim image, only the shadowed essence of Your glory…

Father, place me in the cleft of the rock and open my eyes to You!

This life is difficult, full of pain, and all the not-good-enoughs.

Life on many days is ripped wide open. Gaping.

Let me see You!

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On some days my prayer is just like this one that I wrote.

Simple.

To the point.

“Let me see You!”

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My prayer comes from the book of Exodus, chapter 33. Moses and God are having a conversation…and Moses tells God he wants to see His glory. God tells him okay, but He didn’t allow Moses to see His face, “for no one may see Me and live.” So God put Moses in the cleft (a crevice or crack) in the side of the mountain and covered Moses with His hand while He passed by. Moses was only allowed to see God’s back as He went by.

Moses was gutsy, wasn’t he? That was a big request… and yet, God said “yes” to his request.

This is one of my favorite stories of the Bible and, quite frankly, it is not one of the more common Bible stories… the ones that most people know. I like to think about Moses. He is told by God that He will lead the people of Israel. It is a big job. Moses goes back and forth with God about whether or not people will know that God is with them. He reminds God that, “this nation is Your people.” God agrees and says that His presence will be with them. Which leads up to Moses’ question about seeing God…and God telling Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

Can you imagine how Moses must have felt? In awe? Honored? Excited? Nervous? Terrified?  No one can see God’s face and live. His glory is too much for an individual to fully comprehend. I, of course, wasn’t there and don’t know for sure, but my theory is that seeing God face to face would be so intense that a mere human body could not physically survive it.

His glory.

Who He is.

Overwhelming.

And still, are you like me? Do you want to see His glory? To know that His presence is with you?

God delights to reveal Himself.

He Is Faithful

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Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me! —Thomas Chisholm

God is faithful. He doesn’t let me down, or disappoint.

So many times I overlook the gift of His grace. I find it easy to get caught up in the moments of the day, blindly overlooking all the ways that He is faithful. Not only has he been faithful to be today, but each morning brings new mercies.

Grace abundant.

Today I am thankful for: 

*crisp winter morning *bright sunshine * petting the horse’s muzzle *the smell of fresh coffee * warm sweater * smiles from friends * church family * lunch with my husband and daughter * good conversation * school assignment turned in! * quiet afternoon * Super Bowl fun * looking forward to some snow tomorrow *a new week ahead

I Can’t Go Wrong

102_3462 The beginning of that school year was the beginning of my career as a special education teacher. I was twenty-two years old, just beginning to put my knowledge to the test. Looking back, I didn’t know near as much as I thought I did. Isn’t that the truth for most of us, when we were in our twenties? Big on ideas, not real big on life experience.

The morning was underway. Attendance had been taken, and learning groups had already begun. Bobby*, a sixth grader, wasn’t there yet. He was late. The classroom clock ticked off the first moments of the school day. The door opened and in walked Bobby*. He came up to me, eyes averted, and mumbled something about being late. I, in my own naive youth, abruptly replied to him with, “I understand you are late to school, but it is important for you to be on time. Now you are going to be behind this morning. Hurry up and put your stuff in your desk, so we can get you in your group.” My teacher mindset appreciated punctuality and I wanted to get that across to him, but Bobby* wasn’t finished.  He looked at me and said, “I’m sorry. Last night, with all the rain and wind, the living room wall caved in. I was up most of the night with my Daddy putting tarp up, so our stuff didn’t get wet.”

Tears began to well up in my eyes. I looked away. Now it was my turn to mumble an apology. This poor boy, who was a good student, and had a tender heart, after a difficult and stressful night, now had to listen to his teacher gripe at him. He had helped his Daddy. He was doing important work to save his family’s house. I felt badly about my cavalier attitude, not comprehending what it meant to live in a house that was weather worn and crumbling.

I learned a lesson that day, one that stuck with me. I learned a lesson that didn’t just apply to my career in teaching, but to life. Things are not always what they seem, in fact many times, we only skim the surface of what is going on with people. We often jump to our own conclusions about others because it is more convenient.

And that is wrong….. so wrong.

None of us is perfect, and most are fighting battles that others know nothing about….because of this, I can’t go wrong treating everyone with kindness.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV

*Bobby is not my former student’s real name.