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Sunday grace

From my window, I watch the rosey glow appear at the edge of trees, a new morning heralding its coming.

It is early for a walk, still I get my coat and scarf. This day calls me. I grab the pink leash and invite Maisie to join me.

Light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.
(John 1:5 NET)

Outside, I hope for a world yet to awaken, a stillness unbroken. I hear the faint call of a bird in the little woods and the tinkling of Maisie’s collar as we move along. The lake is like unbroken glass.

But soon I hear the noise of traffic on a nearby roadway. Already humanity is up and about their business, heading to myriad destinations, the rhythm of tires on pavement breaking the tranquil moments I crave.

Listening is my objective. Learning to do it better is the goal in this new year. Listen to my heart. Listen to the voice of the Spirit. Listen and learn.

Much of my life I’ve been a head listener, doing what seemed appropriate, what was asked of me, what was necessary. I don’t regret being a dependable person. It has served me and others.

Life made choices for me, I think, events and circumstances beyond my control, prescribing my decisions and the next step. Though not of my choosing, I walked forward in what I had to do.

I may have ignored my heart sometimes, quieting its gentle voice amidst a roar of responsibility. I want to know what my heart has to say. It speaks softly, like the trill of the bird in the little woods. The clamor of a harried world, a busy schedule, and a distracted mind can drown out the inner prompting that tries to be heard above the noisy din.

I’ve repeated this to myself: Do what you’re called to do, and don’t do what someone else is called to do. In my efficient super-power suit, I may have taken on someone else’s role a time or two, only to regret it later.

It’s about time I listened to my own heart, recognize my passion and walk in my calling. I am not to compare it to another. It shall not be considered bigger or smaller, overly important or inconsequential.

Life can feel like a desert wander or a directed path. It is both. The journey is steep bluffs, rocky paths, uphill climbs, and it is green fields, restful streams, surprising rainbows.

The path God has purposed for me is unique. He planned it and tenderly draws me back to it should I stray. He intends that I walk it with Him. He is the light that shines in the darkness. His voice will be heard above all others, though it be still and small. My heart will hear it.

What lies ahead could be my biggest adventure, my best learning curve, and my greatest miracle.

A person’s steps are established by the LORD, and He takes pleasure in his way.
(Psalm 37:23)

Photo by Elena Walls

Sunday grace

Do you know what’s under your house?

Sweet William and I had work done in the dark recesses under our old Kentucky home recently. It was quite costly and a bit stressful, I might add.

We knew there was a problem a year ago. But sometimes I prefer to live in an imaginary happy place resembling Oz with it’s yellow-brick roads, dancing Munchkins, and poppy fields. Let me pretend all is right with my world, if only for a little while.

It’s easy to ignore what is concealed in the shadows under the house.

Ignoring a problem will not make it disappear. After our contractor worked for days, finding more issues than we imagined, and me writing checks while I breathed heavily, the situation is resolved, and the air in the house smells fresh when I walk in the door.

Why did we wait so long? Who knows. Money factored into it, and I didn’t want to deal with the discomfort. But putting it off possibly made the problem worse.

This is not just a home-ownership issue. My inner life suffers in a similar way.

Becoming aware of an interior dilemma, sometimes I chose to bury it. In the words of Scarlet O’Hara, I prefer to “think about it tomorrow.” I struggle with choices, delaying the inevitable.

And so I wait. Until a more convenient time, when circumstances my be better, while hoping it might disappear altogether.

But usually a problem does not go away quietly.

It has a way of hounding me, resurfacing in my thoughts, looking for a chink to slip through and shout, “I’m still here. Do something.”

I don’t want to be ignorant and call it bliss.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit will not allow me to bury, hide, or sidestep what needs to be brought into the light. He keeps reminding me, whispering that He can help with what troubles me. It is His specialty.

And so I pray:

Come Holy Spirit.
Shine Your love in the hidden places where sin and fear hide.
Open the windows of my heart.
Let the fresh breezes of the breath of God flow freely.
Cleanse me of dark secrets that fester.
Pour your healing balm on what hurts.
Let me walk in freedom where joy is my companion.
In Jesus sweet name.

Sunday grace

Rising earlier than usual, the stillness envelopes me. The house is warm with the season of spring, needing no furnace or gas logs. I open the window next to my chair, and the distant sound of birdsong filters in. It’s too soon for the winged creatures to begin their pre-dawn chorus. And yet, there is one, out in the little woods, and he sings to me.

Sweet William breathes the heaviness of sleep in the back bedroom. Maisie checks that I am OK, then trots back to bed, her sleep-in habit.

The morning quiet is mine alone.

After awhile, I hear a sound, in the wind, in the trees. It’s the sound of rain in the distance. Did I miss that weather prediction? I listen carefully because I know the music of raindrops.

Memory takes me to decades before when I sat on the upper deck of my parents’ house, us facing the west, watching as the dark clouds hung low and rain moved toward us, over the hills into the field beyond until the spattered drops were heard on the tin roof above us.

It’s a sweet remembrance, me a young mom sitting with my mother and dad talking about whatever was on our minds. I shared a lot with them in those days, but I still kept a certain part of me hidden. Things that seemed unsolvable were closed off from everyone, kept under lock and key lest anyone might know what really troubled my heart.

Those hidden parts would be the death of me.

Another memory invades my thoughts. This time in a room other than my own, displaced and fearful of the future. An open window near a borrowed bed and somewhere a bird sang through the night. Its melody brought comfort to a weary mind, me with the uncertain days ahead, with a taunting fear rearing its ugly head.

In the middle of that torment, my Heavenly Father sent a bird to sing me to sleep.

Eventually, the doors of my secrets were pried open. Brought into the light, a gentle Savior would reach for all of it with a promise of restoration. “Believe and see the glory of God,” He whispered into my tears.

It took time for healing, for broken things to be repaired, for beauty to come from ashes. It took hard work, confession and forgiveness, a path turned in a different direction.

The sound of bird and patter of rain remind me that God is always near, always working, always has a plan.

And His glory is revealed in the song of a bird and the sound of the rain.

Sunday grace.

Welcome to our world

Christmas-Ribbon-Tree

Invisible put on flesh and bone.

Spirit came as helpless baby.

Immortal was mortal for a season.

The Ancient of Days constrained Himself to time and space.

Infinite God was made into infant Son.

The Sacred became the Sacrifice.

The miraculous Being remained a miracle.

And we still behold His glory.

Welcome Holy Child Jesus to our broken world, our broken hearts.

Mend us as only You can.

Come and make your home in us.  Today.

Search me oh God

Day 10 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Examine your heart daily. “Search me O Lord and know my heart. Try me and see if
there is any wicked way in me” (Psalm 139: 23-24).

O my Father who is Heaven and who came to earth as the Son,

Your name is holy and righteous and glorious and good.

You rule in Heaven; I invite you to rule in my heart.

I submit to your will.

O God, come and search the deepest part of me where no one else can see.

You know the secrets in my heart and you test my thoughts.

You have examined me, and You know everything about me.

Point out anything you find there that makes you sad,

things like unforgiveness, envy, bitterness, hatred, lust, pride.  I could go on.

Create in me a brand new, clean heart, O God.

Fill it with clean thoughts and right desires.

Sprinkle me once again with the cleansing blood of Jesus.

Wash away the stains of sin and I shall be whiter than snow. 

Your grace is more than enough and you promised You would never leave me nor forsake me.

You said your Holy Spirit would  always be with me and would teach me how to live pleasing to you.

I’m counting on those promises.

Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make my heart a willing servant to always obey you. 

Lead me along the path of holiness and everlasting life.

In the name of Your Son who gave His all for me, Amen.

(taken from selected Scriptures)

Won’t you join us on this 40-day journey?  

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.

And let us know you are journeying with us.

40 days to Passover download

Passover preparation and spring cleaning

 Passover is probably the most widely celebrated Jewish festival. It is a festival of freedom and is intensely personal for each individual.

Preparation for Passover begins with a thorough cleansing of the house, mainly to remove all leavening agents (Exodus 12:19), whether it is in their cookies or bread, or boxes of baking powder in the pantry. During the Passover meal and for seven days thereafter, nothing containing any leaven is to be eaten. This is the Feast of Unleavened Bread as told in Exodus 13:6.

Some homes have special dishes and cookware that are only used during the Passover season. The everyday things are put away.

On the night before Passover, a traditional hunt for any final crumbs of leavening is conducted by the father of the house and his children. Mother has purposely left out some crumbs for them to find. When they discover the crumbs, they sweep them with a feather into a wooden spoon, wrap it in a napkin and burn it. In some communities, there is a bonfire where families come to burn their final bits of leavening. With this accomplished, the house is now ceremonially cleansed.

Jesus talked about leavening being corruption of the heart. Even a little is dangerous. We cannot flirt with the world or continually taste of a little sin and expect to walk away unaffected. A little leaven puffs up a whole batch of dough. A little sin, left confessed, can spoil the soul.   And it influences those around us whether we like  it or not. 

Let us examine ourselves daily and pray as Jesus taught us, “Forgive us our trespasses . . .”  Let us pray David’s prayer,

Search me O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me . . . , (Psalm 139:23-24)

Paul warned us to “lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1).

What is that keeps you from drawing closer to God? A habit that binds and controls? A relationship you know is not edifying but you cannot give up? A temptation that you did not run from and now it entangles you? A command you know you should obey but you simply won’t?

I cannot look into your heart. I can only look into mine. And so I pray,

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. I acknowledge my sin to you and do not try to cover it up. I will confess my transgressions to You Lord. And You will forgive the guilt of my sin. I am blessed because my transgressions are forgiven and my sins covered.   (from Psalm 31 and 51)

Prepare me, O Lord, for the Passover, that my heart will be a cleansed and welcome place for Your Spirit.

Leaving February

 

I enjoyed the month of February with all its talk and posts about love. It gave me a chance remember important people in my life.

Then there was the sermon series, “Navigating the Storms of Life,” at Little Flock that got my attention and resonated with truth each Sunday. I found myself heading into a storm on February 15 when my Sweet William was suddenly thrust into open-heart surgery.

Now at the end of the month, I’m beginning to see some of the clouds disperse and a patch of blue sky peeking through. I guess that means I’m coming out of a storm. At least for now.

I was having a Facebook conversation last evening. You know the kind I mean. I type out my message, send it, then wait for a reply. It is a slow way to talk.

My FB friend is in the middle of a tornado-like storm, the warning sirens at full blast. It won’t be over for a while. All I can do is stay close, pray for her, and offer encouragement when I can.

I told her I have found that God speaks to me more clearly during the darkest of days, the hard roads, the tear-streaked seasons of my life. He seems nearer at those times, probably because I seek Him more often, praying without ceasing just to make it through the next hour. Perhaps my ears are more prone to listening to His words when I am broken and bruised.

Honestly, when I look back to those stormy seasons, I realize my faith grew. When I had nothing but God, I found that He was more than enough.

It helps me look with hopeful expectation toward the future. I can enjoy the clear-sky days. But I can also face the storm clouds that gather without fear. I have tested and found Him to be faithful, near and dear in the valley of the shadow as well as on top of the sun-shiny mountains.

So I bid February farewell. I will not pass this way again. But I will look back and see God’s hand written all over it.