Sunday grace

At my age and well into my seventh decade, I should expect it. But I’m still shaken to the depths at another good friend leaving this world for a one better.

She called me her ‘forever friend’ because of our early attachement to each other. In the basement of our childhood church, we often twirled to see whose skirt was the prettiest and the fullest. It was in this basement where we attended weekly children’s church, and the foundation of our mutual faith was built strong. We sang in a little-girls trio and made pretty good harmony. We were baptized at the same service. Years later we talked about the early years, how we first learned to grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus our Savior.

My heart hurt yesterday after hearing the news of her death. Tears came freely and I gave in to the weeping, remembering Psalm 56:8 tells me my tears are acknowledged by my heavenly Father.

Lying in bed and ready for sleep, memories of our long-time friendship played in my mind. She and I were born the same year, and we both took piano lessons. As young pals, she often came home with me on a Sunday night to spend the days of summer until we returned to church again on Wednesday. She ate tuna fish sandwiches with me because that was my lunch of choice most days. She played with my dogs and rode my horse and entered into my life in a way that etched a permant mark.

As adults and mothers of growing children, we again shared church and life experiences. She and I played music for worship, her on the piano and me on the organ, and we could almost read each other’s expressions across the podium as we flowed with the leading of the Spirit.

Judy was an expert planner of events, whether a choir reunion, a women’s weekend meeting, Christmas tea parties, or our son’s wedding. I helped serve at a couple of the tea parties she hosted at her house where every detail was meticuolous and the house was rearranged to accommodate a crowd. The women who were seated at tables and served delicacies were astonshed at the preparations and felt loved that this was just for them.

She loved children in the way of Jesus who said “Let the little children come.” She talked and listened like they were real people. She catered to their special tastes and had the best treats tucked away in her tall kitchen cabinet. She made my grandchildren feel as special as I tried to. She was a pied piper of sorts, calling them to come and get some of her unique love.

Judy was a gift-giver at heart, the presentations always lavish with an extra amount of effort. Each birthday and Christmas, there was a lovely bag filled with surprises particular to me. Always there was something blue, like a teapot or tiny box, wrapped in tissue paper because she remembered my favorite color.

My friend offered me a safe harbor in 2003 when I was desperately in need. I recall with tears her gentle ways of welcome, the small gifts of kindness, the listening ear and non-judgment of the hard place where I found myself.

When a group of adults took a passel of teenagers to Michigan to do drama ministry, she saved us from a torturous trip home by offering air freshner and a clean t-shirt when one of the kids threw up in the car, spattering Sweet William in the process. It was anything but funny at the time, but we laughed about it years after the fact.

Soon after the death of my mother in February 1983, Judy asked me to teach a lesson on faith to her class. It was an incredulous request, I thought, since I was wrestling with my own faith in the throes of grief, and I was in a bit of a crisis. For some reason I said yes to her. In my Bible I wrote a notation at Hebrews 10:19-23, “my first sermon,” the date 3-18-83.

She asked me again and again through the years to speak, to teach, calling forth a gift in me I did not know I had. While music was my comfort zone of ministry, the Lord used her to lead me into an area of teaching. She was an instrument of His grace, iron sharpening iron.

This morning I think of the hole left in lives of her husband, her children and grandchildren, family and friends. Her influence was deep and wide, loving people in simple and profound ways. At this moment I can only think of her bright smile and laughter, not the way sickness ravaged her body in the closing years of her life.

People say, “She’s in a better place.” And I know it is true. The glories of her Heavenly Home do not compare to the beauties surrounding us on this earth. The Jesus she proclaimed to others as the only way of salvation is the Jesus she now sees face to face, beholding the glory of all His goodness.

I wonder how the heavenly reunion happens when a saint of God enters the eternal portals. Does word spread throughout the Celestial City that she’s coming? Do they get excited with the anticpated reunion, like I look forward to a visit from my dear ones? Do family and friends, the great crowd of witnesses, gather to greet and welcome? I wonder about such things.

If they do, then I picture faces of saints gone before. Judy’s parents and grandparents will be there. Friends she loved here will be among the crowd. My mother and dad might be on the sidelines waiting their turn to joyously embrace another soilder who has come home.

Home. Judy loved her home, making it beautiful and comfortable for all to enter and enjoy, touches of herself showing up in every room. Now she is Home in a way I can only dream about and look forward to when it is my turn to go.

My heart aches in the remembering today, but there is a sweetness present too. The love and encouragement she gave me, the welcome and smile that were as big as her hug and her heart, the way we walked the path of salvation together through many years, how she loved Jesus and wanted others to know Him.

My time of departure from earth’s hold will come one day. The years are mounting up faster than I can grasp, making me conscious of the frailty of life. I hope my story is one that points to Jesus, like Judy’s did.

I know there is something more than this life. Though it offers beauty and joy, it is mixed with the pain of sorrow and loss. There is another place, a place where the living God dwells in glorious unaproachable light, and He invites me to make my citizenship there, to be where He is. He has paid the price for me through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and He bids me come. Come home.

My forever friend will be among the heavenly throng welcoming me when it’s my turn to leave here. And she’ll be smiling with open arms as we share stories of amazing grace.

Sunday grace.

Sunday grace

Standing at the check-out desk of the library, a former piano student turned library employee scanned my selections.

“Minimalism?” she quired, seeing several books on the topic. She’d been to my house and knew it was not my style. I told her I was always looking for ways to lighten my load, to clear the clutter, and to open up spaces. I try.

As I glanced through one of the books showing blank walls and table tops devoid of anything, I tossed it into the return-to-library stack. A different book by another author was more promising, motivating me to evaluate what is needed, what is beautiful, what brings memories, and discard the rest. Ah, I can do this.

Looking at the rooms where Sweet William and I have lived for well over 40 years, we have collected plenty. Books line shelves and sit in stacks on tables. Mementos adorn surfaces and shelter behind glass and in closed cabinets. Nested Corning Ware pans I got when we were newly married are still used regularly, and pots I inherited when my mother died are my go-to cookware.

I glance around and remember. The small birdhouses were painted by the grandchildren when they were small. Collected cookbooks hold treasured recipes from church ladies. A small desk lamp belonged to my dear Aunt Dottie. Delicate cups with saucers behind glass enclosures call to mind tea parties for grown ups and children alike. The figurines I call George and Martha Washington had their place in my parents’ home. Brass candlesticks on the coffee table were a gift from my uncle who liked exotic things.

Sweet William has his own collections of guitars and musical odds and ends, build and repair tools, and those semi-important miscellany to keep just in case we might need them someday.

The extra bedroom houses some dolls our grands used to play with. I keep them because friends have grandgirls who visit. The neighbors who live in the house next door have two little guys who look forward to the old matchbox cars that belonged to our son.

These are things remembered with multiplied memories attached. How can I toss them out? What if I forget what unfolded in my life?

Perhaps an unacknowled blessing is my ability to still remember the places, events, and people peppering our lives. Random things in this old house are triggers, promts that jog my brain and take me back to places visited, celebrations, and most importantly the people who have enriched me in ways I cannot even describe.

Reading the Holy Word I see it oft repeated by the Lord God, “remember.” Remember what the Lord did. Remember how He delivered. Remember that He provided. Remember His faithfulness. Remember He is your Redeemer.

On the night Jesus shared His last Passover with friends, He told them to remember. Drink the cup and eat the bread and remember. And we still share communion with brothers and sisters in Christ in order that we remember the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord.

I need reminders of my spiritual journey, like my spiral note cards filled with Scripture verses, like hand-written notations in my Bible, like art work hanging on the walls of our home, like sharing with a friend how good God has been to me. I need reminders lest I forget.

Very slowly I’m looking in closets and drawers, trying to determine what can stay, what should go. I think about the when and where, the memory attached, the people who were part of it. I’m sure I will never be a true minimalist. It isn’t my nature. This old house is a museum of artifacts and our history, interesting finds, plunder from the journey, a story of who we are and where we’ve been.

In the process, let me hold to the good and true, the beauty of walking with Jesus through valleys and mountains, and recall the goodness of our God. It is well worth remembering.

Sunday grace.

Sunday grace

My spiral note cards, sitting on the small table beside my morning rocker, are filled with Scripture verses, written through the years when I wanted to remember a word from the Lord. I’ve been reading them again and contemplating their significance to me in seasons of joy and sorrow.

As I think of people through the day, breathe a prayer for them, a verse keeps coming to mind.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11 KJV

I ponder, what is the good thing the Lord will not withhold? Those I pray for are suffering, by sickness, pain, distress, anxiety, loss and grief. Where are the good things in all of it?

I have walked the hard road, dealt with my own anxiety, endured the grief, cried the tears, and I asked the questions. Lord, where are you in my pain?

My note cards speak to me.

September 6, 2011 – The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace. Psalm 29:11

October 20, 2011 – Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Psalm 68:19

April 16, 2012 – . . . but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5b

April 30, 2012 – You have made known to me the paths of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence. Psalm 16:11

March 4, 2013 – The Lord is good, a refuge in time of trouble. He cares fot those who trust in Him. Nahum 1:7

May 11, 2013 – For You, O Lord, are my lamp; the Lord lightens my darkness. 2 Samuel 22:29

July 19, 2013 – God is my helper, the sustainer of my life. Psalm 54:4

April 2, 2014 – Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion . . . Isaiah 30:18

December 17, 2015 – My flesh and my heart may fail, bu God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

June 27, 2016 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

October 1, 2016 – Surely You have granted [her] eternal blessings and made [her] glad with the joy of Your presence. Psalm 21:6

January 2, 2017 – The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9

September 13, 2019 – And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

November 1, 2019 – The Lord says, I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8

January 2, 2020 – My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Exodus 33:14

November 10, 2020 – And you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. Colossians 2:10

December 30, 2020 – The Name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

July 21, 2021 – Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 *

As I reviewed my circle of versus, I see a theme, a thread of hope coming from Heaven and reaching my heart. The good things God does not withhold are His presence, His peace, His strength, His unfailing love, His grace, His comfort, His guidance, His heart. He does not and will not withhold the One Good Thing – Himself.

While I wonder at what He does, I am called to surrender to His will instead of fighting for my own. I continue to pray for healing and health and for earthly blessings for friends and family. I intercede for souls knowing this carries eternal consequences. I weep with those who weep and help bear the unchanging burdens of others. I remember present grace and future glory, and I know there is a good God who gives good gifts to His children. In His wisdom, providence and sovereignty, He sees the bigger picture, one I cannot comprehend.

I look toward the exceeding weight of glory while enduring the light and momentary troubles, though it seems a painful process. I run to the mercy seat of Jesus as He is working all things for good and for His purpose, though I can’t understand it.

The Father of Compassions calls me to be compassionate too. My wounds and scars are testimony of His sustaining grace in the dark valleys and shadows of death. My joy should be full and my heart overflowing with praise to Christ my Savior for taking my sin, covering my shame with His righteousness, lifting me up and keeping me for an eternal home with Him.

I don’t understand God’s ways. But I know He is good and He will not withhold Himself from me. This is my strength and my song.

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. Psalm 116:7

Sunday grace.

*Various translations

Summer musings

When I open the back door to the deck to let Maisie out, I hear summer sounds, the cicadas singing in the trees. The birds finished their chorus hours earlier, gone now to other business, like searching for insects and pecking at the last seeds in the feeder. The squirrels will sneak their way up the deck railing later in the morning, and Maisie will find great delight in a dog’s purpose to chase them away.

The rooster next door is awake before the rest of the neighbors. He’s a handsome fellow, looking after the hens. Sometimes they wander into our yard in a free range sort of way. Early mornings, I hear his cock-a-doodles coming through the open kitchen window. Even on a humid morning, I need to hear the melodies of nature, their soothing sounds are a comforting balm.

The baby geese that entralled us in the cold of March are almost as large as their parents now. They still wander the land, rest in the shade of trees, and flap their wings wildly in the lake across the road. Perhaps they are exercising in preparation for their fall flight.

I tried a small wildflower experiment this spring. In April I scattered packs of purchased seeds, along with saved zennias, cock’s comb, sunflowers, and morning glory varieties. I watched them sprout and grow among apparent weeds. It was a wheat and tares situation, and I was hesitant to pull something that might actually become a flower.

Now, in August, there are zennias, cosmos, marigolds and other potentials sparkling like jewels in the sun. It makes me happy to observe my efforts. At the other end of this bed something edible is growing, vining over the little fence and into the yard. It appears to be a squash of sorts, a suprise I’ll wait to discover.

Even with the opressive heat and Kentucky humidity, there is beauty everywhere. We’ve enjoyed a few days of unseasonably cool nights and early mornings. It gladdens me to open windows, let the breeze freshen the indoors, a little wildness seeping in. The colorful variety of birds fly from little woods to bird feeders and back again. They always seem hungry. Hummingbirds zip from one side to the other checking each feeder, and butterflys drink necter from blossoms.

Dispite the on-going war of the weeds, each week something flowers in my garden of delight. Most recently surprise lilies are popping up randomly, Rose of Sharon in pink and white bloom on topiary trees, and one lone crept mytrle blooms stately along the property line.

Today Maisie found and investigated a tree frog under the wooden glider Sweet William built me years ago on some important birthday. I sit there sometimes to read and write. The scribbling of words are an effort to make sense and bring order to my thoughts. Sometimes I need to pull away from the ever-present list of necessary tasks. Surrounded by God’s creation, I breath deeper. My mind settles. Prayer comes easily.

In a crack of the driveway just beyond our garage door is a marigold. It looks green and healthy with several orange blooms. As I watered other plants suffering from the stifeling heat, I poured a little on the marigold only to watch the water run off on the blacktop. I wonder how it survives. Yet it does, and seems to flourish there by itself.

I marvel at the seed that somehow rolled away from soft earth of the garden into a crack in the drive. I would not have given it much of a chance. Yet it nesteled in and began to grow. This is resealiance, determination, tenacity.

A few years ago a phrase attributed to Lynda C. Fell was tossed about often: “Bloom where you are planted.” In other words, wherever you find yourself, make the best of it, think positively, find some joy whether or not you would have chosen this place.

I suppose the marigold-seed-turned flower was doing what seeds do, die in order to grow, and then become a flourishing plant.

. . . if [a seed] dies, it produces many seeds and seedlings and those seeds and their seedlings produce much fruit.” — John 12:24.

Could I be like the seed? What if I’m not in a nurturing environment? What if my surroundings are less than desireable? What if I’ve landed in a really hard place and I don’t want to be here at all? Is there hope even there?

There has to be hope.

Hope keeps us going. Hope that expects something good even though it is difficult gives us inspiriation to press on. And some days pressing on is pure determination. Put one foot in front of the other and do the next thing. It requires resileance, determination and tenactiy.

Hope as used in the Scripture is not blind faith in an uncertain outcome. It isn’t trying to muster a bright outlook in a negative circumstance. Hope is “according to the biblical usage . . . an indication of certainty . . . a strong and confident expectation . . . akin to trust and a confident expectation.

May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:22

This is hope you can cling to when the sweltering sun wears you down, when life feels unbearable, when disease threatens, when the future looks dim, when death changes everything. Hope works when your seed lands in the harsh and uwelcome environment of a blackened drive.

Though the seed dies, hope will produce life. Hope calls forth growth and fruit and beauty even in the imperfect, the flawed and impaired.

We live in a broken world where all of us are presented with challenges, hurts, and pains from which we think we cannot recover. Jesus Christ offers a hope that is a strong and confident expection. We can trust Him no matter what the weather brings.

Bloom where He plants you. I will do the same. And let’s hope together.

Sunday grace – thoughts on my birthday

At the change of the calendar month, thoughts turned to my birthday and an assessment of my life. Last year, 2020, Sweet William and I were in quarantine due to the Covid 19 virus that virtually shut down the world. This year, he is still recovering from a major surgery in December. It is a long road of rehab and physical therapy that continues weekly. In essence, we are somewhat confined, though in a different way. The question becomes how to celebrate and acknowledge another year where we are right now.

It can be easy to slip into the downward spiral of dwelling on suffering, naming them one by one, leading to a dark hole of loneliness and depression. I’ve been there. All who live to the seventh decade and beyond have experieced both gain and loss. I had my share.

I recall summer birthday parties when I was young. It was hot and there were lawn sprinklers, swimming pools, ice cream and watermelon. Never mind that the juices ran down my arm. It would wash off in the pool water. When our son was born in July, I recreated some of those fun times in the outdoors with his cousins and friends. I thought a summer birthday was the best.

As the day approached, I was tempted to feel sorry for myself, and I cried a little. But I confessed to a friend that I was determined to count my blessings and not my hardships on this day.

Birthday week was busy, and when Friday came Sweet William knew I needed some quite, some down time. After a breakfast of pancakes with strawberries and pure maple syrup – because it’s my birthday! – I went to the deck with my Bible, journal and pens, a birthday book from a friend and a fresh cup of coffee. It is never too hot for coffee.

I read Psalm 139 slowly, a birthday practice, its poetry reassuring me I am known and loved, that I can never, no never, go away from the Father’s presence.

Texts pinged my phone throughout the day, family and friends sending their birthday wishes. Our son called and sang to me, his baritone voice music to this mother’s ears. Cards came in the mail. Sweet William prayed for me, saying I was the best thing that ever happened to him, next to Jesus.

In the evening, a friend in another city called to chat like she has on so many birthdays, and my cousin came with a present and ate birthday cake with us.

I listened to Cythinia Clawson sing You Were There, composed by Dan Burgess, inspired by Psalm 139. It brings me to tears. The passing of another year is worth marking and remembering in order to gain wisdom for the future.

At this age I know the years still left are less than what I have lived. I often wonder what I will leave behind, not the house and furniture and stuff, but what I deposited into another heart. Did I give enough time? Did I really listen? Were my words encouraging? In my brokeness did Jesus shine through? Did I love well? I hope so.

“Love never ages, even when we do. So I tell myself if you want to hold on to your youth, hold on to love.”
— Edward Ginnon

There will be days dark and light, times of joy and sorrow, beauty to enjoy and rocks in my shoes. I will laugh and I will cry. But there is no reason to fear. There will be grace for the journey. Always there is grace enough.

Time will tell my path on this earth. I will keep pressing on, keep moving forward toward the hope of life everlasting when a last struggling breath here only means my next will be a breath of heavenly air and the face of my savior.

I will rejoice in the goodness of God. I will remember His faithfulness to me. When it gets hard, I will remind myself He is there.

God the Father has allowed me to be here. May I live fully and gain a heart of wisdom. And let me love.

I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me.” — Psalm 13:5, 6

Sunday grace.

Sunday grace

Fornado Ortega’s lyrics sing in my head as my good day begins.

This Good Day

Fernando Ortega

Morning sun, morning glories pouring down the hill
Through my window I can feel the ocean breeze

Noisy sparrows fill the oak trees, swallows can’t stay still
And in the glad commotion, Lord, You speak to me

If rain clouds come or the cold winds blow
You’re the one who goes before me and in my heart I know

That this good day, it is a gift from You. The world is turning in its place
Because You made it to
I lift my voice to sing a song of praise on this good day

On this July 4, the day the United State celebrates her independence, I am thankful for the blessings of being an American citizen and for this good day. I have been endowed with God-given inalienable rights. He is the One who gives life and liberty.

I count these gifts:

For waking in my own house on my own little piece of land where I live in peace.

For neighbors who do acts of kindness for us out of the goodness of their hearts.

For a house full of appliances making my life easier (especially after a day without electricity, land land and internet).

For bird song waking the morning, their unique beauty giving Sweet William and me simple pleasure.

For flowers growing in the gardens, simple offerings from packets of seed.

For the grandness of trees offering shade, blowing with the winds, speaking to me of resilience and strength.

For children playing in the yard next door, their innocence, trust, gladness and joy.

For church and fellowship, for the people who care, pray, and welcome us with glad hearts and smiles.

For music and singing and books and the Holy Word, and for a mind to understand and a voice to praise.

For freedom, the gift God gave first to Adam and Eve, and for His forgiveness when we abuse that liberty.

May I see with clarity the responsibility of freedom.

May I choose righteousness over unrighteousness.

May I serve with a willing heart.

May I give honor where honor is due and treat others with respect.

May I love like Christ loved all peoples.

May I walk worthy to be called a Christian and an American.

Sunday grace.

Sunday grace

I ponder life, its intricacies and complexities. It is beautiful and yet painful. It surprises me with great joy and sometimes plummets me into the depths of sorrow.

Having lived my many years, I’ve learned from the everyday of routine, the unexpected turn in direction, and the sudden stop of grief. Wisdom came not through the study of books but from experience, the waking to a new day and putting one foot in front of the other because that is what I must do. While so much is mystery, I see some things with unquestioned clarity.

Yahweh the Lord is sovereign. He is strong and He is good. He is over all, in all and through all, and nothing is beyond His grasp of knowledge and care. Love is His essence, justice and righteousness are like garments. He is tender and He is a warrior.

He is I AM. He will be who He will be.

When life begins and when it ends.

When I am full or when I am empty.

When dear ones are close or when they are far away.

When relationships are rich or when confusion and hurt separate.

When I am strong and full of vigor or when I am racked with pain.

When the fog lifts so I see clearly or when darkness blinds me to the next step.

When I understand His plan or when I lay in the dust of confusion.

When the way opens up or the door closes to me.

When friends surround me or when I am left alone.

When the gifts and talents He gave lay dormant on the shelf.

When I question but get no answer.

When I cry until no tears are left.

When I cannot perceive what He is doing.

When I don’t know which way to go.

This I know. He is Yahweh. I AM.

He has a plan for me and He loves me with an unreasonable, everlasting love. His grace reaches to the lowest depths and captures me, drawing me to Himself, telling me I am precious to Him. He forgives again and again. He has prepared a place for me so I can be with Him forever. He has completed His plan of redemption and all I have to do is respond to His invitation.

He is Yahweh. I AM.

He is Faithful and True and I will trust Him.

Sunday grace.

Sunday grace for the fathers

Abba Father,

I am blessed to call you Father, to be welcomed into Your presence, the holy place of Your essence. You called my name and claimed me for your very own child. This is a high privilege and I am loved.

I thank you for the men who influenced my life and showed me what You are like, especially my grandfather and my dear dad. I am grateful for patriarchs of my family and for men in my life who walked in the faith, were strong and gentle, treated me with respect and honor, protected and provided for me, bent low to serve and held me up with their prayers. I am blessed to know your sons.

I pray for the fathers of this generation. How we need them to be steadfast and sure, standing true in the battle for souls, leading with firm resolve and gentle grace. They need guidance from the Holy Spirit and the power of love. Clothe them in Your righteousness and Your holy armor, for the battle is hard. Infuse Your Word into their minds to remind them what is at stake. Speak to them as you did to the warriors of old, “Be strong and very courageous.” Remind them this is Your battle and You are always with them.

I ask that you purify their hearts. Turn them from evil, the deceitfulness of riches, and the cares of life. Give them eyes to see the beauty of a precious child, the tenderness of a woman’s heart, the reward of being a servant to those in their keeping. Remind them that words can wound or words can heal and build up. Help them choose their words wisely.

Abba Father, I ask that they look to You as their only source, that they seek to be more like Jesus every day, that they live to please You above all and be filled continually with the Holy Spirit. May You shine in them and through them as Image Bearers of God the Father.

I ask these things in the name of Your Son and my Savior Jesus.

Amen

Sunday grace.

Monday grace

A PRAYER

My Dear Heavenly Father,

Your name is holy. I stand in awe of You. You are the Living Word who spoke all that I know into existence. Everlasting to everlasting, You are the I AM who was, is and is to come.

You are good, kind, strong, full of compassion and forgiving. You blot out my transgressions, casting them into the sea.

You remember that I am dust, weak and prone to wander. Yet, You called my name, chose and blessed me with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. I am yours, amazed at Your grace.

When I am troubled, You tell me to release anxiety and to present my requests to You, with a thankful heart, knowing You are able to do beyond what I ask or even think.

You are always with me. I am never alone.

You see my heart, my concerns and longings, the burdens that weigh on me, the distress that brings me to tears. You know what I need before I ask, and still You invite me to ask, to seek, to knock and bring my petitions to the throne of mercy, behind the veil, opened through the blood of Jesus. You invite me to come near.

You are Yahweh and there is none like you. Wisdom and power are Yours alone. Ah Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth, and nothing is too hard for You. You are the faithful One, the Truth and the Way of salvation.

Jesus and Holy Spirit intercede on my behalf, according to Your perfect will. I rest in such great assurance.

Your Word declares that you will hear when I call to You. O Lord, You are not far off; my Strength, come quickly to help me. You Who hear prayer, to You all flesh comes.

You care for all creation. You feed the birds. You say I am more valuable then they. I am astounded at Your care for me.

I know You, I believe You, and I am convinced that You are able to guard what I have entrusted to You, those I hold dearest and love most. You are the Good Shepherd, leaving the ninety-nine safe in the fold, to search for the wandering one. You see wherever they are. Your arm is strong to save.

I love You Lord for you hear my prayers, You bend down to listen. You hear my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to You. Your love, O Lord, never fails.

All of Your promises are Yes and Amen in Christ Jesus. Your plan for me is good, and I have a hope and a future. You will fulfill Your purpose in me, the work You began long ago from eternity. Those who know Your name put their trust in You.

Oh Lord, I have heard of your fame. I stand in awe of Your deeds. Renew them in our day. In our time, make them known.

Father, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, in the name of Your one and only son, Jesus,

With a grateful heart,

Your daughter

Sunday grace – thoughts on motherhood

There is a family of geese sheltering in the safety of the lake and its surroundings across the road. I’ve watched them wander since hatching on a frosty April day, seven little goslings waddling along with their parents. Each time I spy them, I count. They are vulnerable to predators, large snapping turtles, hawks or coyotes.

The two parents are watchful as they meander into our yard. Father goose stands tall with his neck stretched high, on the lookout for danger while mother goose and her goslings nibble in the grass.

This week I saw them and I counted again. There are only six. And I wonder if a goose has enough sense to grieve her loss and how she deals with it.

Observing motherhood in animals teaches me. The collie dog I had when an adolescent carefully tended her pups, concerned if someone picked up one of her babies, only content again when all were nestled close to her. I’ve had a bird’s eye view of a robin from a bedroom window, watching the nest prepared, eggs laid, and fledglings straining their necks for the next meal. A racoon family made their home in the loft of Bill’s shop one year. We watched the tiny racoons follow mama through the cat door one early morning, after a night of learning to hunt.

Motherhood is an experience. I never knew how my heart could fill with love or how it could break. I laughed and cried, prayed and celebrated, worked long hours and stayed up past my bedtime. I made a zillion peanut butter sandwiches and cups of hot cocoa. I helped with homework and projects carried carefully to the classroom. I baked birthday cakes, cookies and made Rice Krispie treats. I cleaned up messes that should have required a haz-mat suit.

I read stories, told tales, played games, picked up toys, washed sticky faces and dirty feet. I tried to impart wisdom and a love for Jesus. I read Bible stories and sang worship songs as we traveled by car. I held on as long as I could to the son, the daughter-in-love and their own children until they waved and were out of sight. My heart still grips tightly to the heart of each one.

Sometimes I was busy with other things when I should have been more attentive. I was short on patience and long with a lecture. I didn’t have the right answers to the questions, and I fumbled to do the right thing. I fell down on the job, and I have regrets.

Mother’s Day reminds me of the glory of being a mother and how I wish I’d done it better.

Age and experience taught wisdom I longed for those many years ago. I see my errors, and wish for a do-over. Grandchildren give us that chance. It’s why we seem to spoil and give in and say ‘yes’ more than ‘no.’ We learned the hard way what really matters with the perspective of looking backward, learning from our mistakes.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

— Isaiah 49:15 ESV

The verse of promise is comforting to me. I cannot imagine ever forgetting the son I nurtured in my womb and loved with everything in me. But even if . . . my Heavenly Father would never forget about me. His love is beyond what I can ever produce or feel or act upon. My love is tiny in comparison. And I’m full of thanksgiving for such an everlasting and unfailing kind of tenderness toward me and those I hold dear.

I wonder if all mothers ponder the same question. Did I mother well? Did I do enough? Did I show them Jesus?

I did not get it right every time. I failed often. Yet I hope the love I gave and the prayers I prayed outweigh the mistakes I made. I hope they know that my love continues, that my prayers follow them, that God knows their names because He hears me speak them so often

“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

— Isaiah 40:11 NIV

My young ones are grown now. I am not the one gently leading any longer. Still I cling to this promise that the Good Shepherd is keeping watch, is leading and guiding and seeking their hearts continually. And that is a comforting grace to this mother’s heart

Sunday grace.