Archive | August 2021

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.