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.
Another snow day; the third one this week. I have been sick for two weeks and have so much catching up to do. When it snows and rains like this, it’s best to save the septic field and refrain from doing too much laundry at home. After being down and out- the laundry has piled up higher than the mounds of plowed and drifted snow. Time for the laundromat.
The kids brought books to read while we waited. I assured them that it would be a reasonably short visit because we could do the drying at home. I was completely taken off guard when they reacted the way they did. The books and coats went into a chair by the window…they flipped over two of the three laundry baskets…and each took a seat.
Front row for the big show.
He practically had his face pressed up on the glass the whole time and only moved away long enough to float to one of the other machines. When the spin cycle began, they were whipped into a frenzy! To them, it looked like the clothes in the machine had just disappeared as the centrifugal force pressed them firmly against the inner walls of the 62 lb. capacity beast. A young couple sitting nearby began to laugh…who knew that laundry could be such a wondrous and magical experience.
They had never seen a front load washing machine before.
Two hillbillies in the big city.
Laundry. They were mesmerized, entertained, and positively pleased as punch.
I miss those times. Two years ago I could look at a tree in a storm as the leaves turned up to welcome the rain…and see God. There was wonder in my coffee, the clouds in the sky…God was evident everywhere. Even in all of the chaos of life, I was the one pressed up against the glass watching in amazement and awe as the spinning melted into the walls and God was at the center. There are seasons. God is always present…always working…always active. Sometimes we sit at the feet of Jesus and learn…and watch. Other times we are Martha, diligently working on the things He has given us to do.
This Martha season has been complicated and blessed. There are tasks that He has placed in my path…people…needs. I have been listening, and started out following His lead quietly. It was awesome! I could see how God was weaving people and situations together- all in one load. But, then the spinning started. I’ve gotten caught in the spin cycle. I don’t want to say “yes”–I don’t want to say “no”. I am spinning with my back pressed against the wall and everything is being squeezed out of me. It’s too fast. I am tired. And I am too loud about it. I have been too loud about my feelings and frustrations. I have been too loud about some of the excitement in my world…good news and bad. I have quickly become overwhelmed and now I have found out that I am overwhelming people around me. I need balance…AGAIN. So now I am feeling a bit alone in the spin cycle and the anxiety is creeping in. Feelings. The reality may not be overwhelming, but when the feelings are added in- Satan get’s the upper hand.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
It’s time to very intentionally focus on God, not the things that make me anxious. [AGAIN] Not how I fail [STILL].
Psalm 51 is near and dear to me and I have found myself meditating on it a lot this week.
Just be quiet. That may be a good start. Oh, Lord. Please hit the reset button. My spirit is downcast within me.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
When everything has been squeezed out of me, there is a big void that only God can fill. I eagerly await that joy and willing spirit; His sustenance.
I have no idea what’s next. I feel like I haven’t had much to write here lately and am wondering if this season has passed, too. (The spammers have written more on my site than I have in the past year!)But, I will be still and wait. Maybe the spin cycle will stop- then, I can exit the spin and sit with my face pressed to the glass. When the spin starts again I want this perspective. I want this vantage point. I want to see all of the chaos melt away with God in the center – clearly. But, that’s what I want. I wonder what God’s plans are?
I have to focus on God’s plans. Not mine.
I must have FULL faith, because God is faithFUL. ALL THE TIME.
He’s five years old- just like my little girl. Together, they have conquered a few villains this week while running the house in their super hero capes. I even saw him melt a mountain…all with a hug and three simple words.
“I love you.”
I will tell you that his presence in our home is divine providence- 100%. If I hadn’t been cleaning up the Christmas decorations in the church that day, his mother and I may not have met. She’s a missionary who serves the Lord in another place far away. She has a heart for kids…a BIG heart. She is a private lady. (Something I really appreciate in a person because I am, too.) But, wonderful things happen when two “private” people to jump in a car together and run around town. I have really enjoyed her company.
When this week started I thought I was the one helping out…serving her…blessing him. Last night, as I watched the scenes playing out before me, I realized that God was really blessing me the whole time.
Hubby had just gotten home from a business trip. He laid down on the floor and our new little friend hopped onto hubby’s stomach (quite literally). Our daughter jumped in and they all wrestled and played for a bit. When hubby relocated to his resting place of choice- the rocking chair, this little one wiggled up onto his lap. “I love you” he said. And the mountain-of-a-man before me melted. Yes, super powers indeed.
We tucked them in one by one and he wouldn’t let go of hubby’s shirt tail. Sweet, sweet spirit. The little masked man made off with all of our hearts this week.
So who is really serving here?? Who is really being blessed?
From my perspective- our family was blessed beyond measure. WAY BEYOND measure!
I am so thankful that this Spiderman suitcase found its way to our home this week…and even more thankful for its owner.
He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Amen. When this child entered our home, there is no doubt that he brought the love of Christ with him.
Thank you Jesus for this gift.
I just love this season.
When I look around our home, there are so many things that make me happy.
But, most of all- I love the reason for the season…Jesus Christ. There is so much more to Christmas than giving gifts or even decking the halls with the trinkets around my home. They make me happy, but Jesus gives me true joy.
Jesus is the reason for the season and a relationship with him is the only source of true joy.
Happiness is a response…joy comes from within.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever. Isaiah 9:6-7
Let’s talk fruit.
Cranberries…deemed a”super fruit”because of it’s nutritional qualities and anti-oxidant power. Beautiful in a floral arrangement and red and vibrant on the dinner table; these diverse and delicious fruits can be enjoyed in many forms- dried, as a relish, juice, sauce or chutney. In addition to delighting the taste buds, these red rascals also hold benefits for hair, skin, and health. Super fruit indeed.
My last post was about being in constant pursuit of God, inviting Him to fill us with the Spirit…less me, more Him. God knew before I did that I was going to need to go back and read that post. After a long Thanksgiving week- busy with family, travel and sleepless nights- I was empty. Just a few days before I had been thanking God for every blessing I could count and even those which are unseen. What happened? Sunday…Monday…Tuesday…I found myself feeling empty and way too focused on myself. There were things I couldn’t control, aches and pains that have been pinching and plucking my emotional and physical nerves, frustration and fall-out, and a “to-do” that I don’t think is quite what God had in mind for me. My will over His. The trinity was at war within me and I am not talking about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit either. ME…Myself…and I. What made it worse was that I knew that I was complaining. I knew that I was unhappy. I knew that I was too focused on myself and what I thought God had planned (all “think” and no “trust”) -not focused enough on who God is, His blessings and His plans. Full had turned to empty and there I was- staring at my own reflection in the bottom of my empty cup.
Then God hit me yesterday as I was preparing to go a service for a dear friend and Bible study partner who lost her battle with cancer. “Lost”…not really. She was positive, prayerful and just as fixed on God as ever during that nearly year-long struggle. She didn’t lose. She’s face-to-face with Jesus, and there was a multitude of souls in that church who were touched by Jesus as a result of her faithful service to the Lord. So, I’d say the victory was won. Praise the Lord. I started reflecting on the past two months. During our Bible study, she was so prayerful and concerned- but, NEVER for herself. It was her husband who consumed her thoughts and prayers. She prayed that God would lighten her husband’s load, that he would take better care of himself and not be so focused on her, that he would find men in the church to lean on. Every prayer, every concern, every tear she cried was one of unselfish love. What a stark contrast to what I was seeing in the mirror. (sigh) I fail.
So yesterday, I prayed…”fix my eyes on You, Lord.” Over and over. More Him, less me. Resuscitate this shriveling vine and produce fruit.
Last night, I had the unexpected blessing and honor of helping a friend. It was one of those needs that God placed in my path in a single moment in time. “Be the hands and feet, ” He said. There is no pride in this statement, but I will tell you that the fruit was so much more than I could have ever imagined. I had done something I was CREATED to do…in the name of Jesus and for Him. I was fulfilling my purpose and not seeking myself in that moment. Today, I woke up renewed and refreshed. Fruits of the Spirit…the joy, peace, goodness, kindness and gentleness. They flow from us and extend to others. It was these very fruits of the Spirit (God in me) that enabled me to help a friend. Trust me…nothing good was coming from this rotten apple.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” Psalm 16:2
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Corinthians 12:9-11
…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:11
Today, in the grocery store, in found myself smiling wider at passers-by. I walked past a tower of trail mix and reached for something that was not on my list and something I do not ever recall having before- a container of dark chocolate covered cranberries. Hey! Dark chocolate also has several health benefits associated with its consumption, too. When I got home and dug into them I was amazed! Oh my. This was the tastiest treat ever.
Fruit…covered in sweet. Both with known benefits.
When we do what we were created to do, the giver also becomes the receiver. Fruits of the Spirit covered in unanticipated sweetness.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Imagine the glory to God and the blessings experienced if we all acted to fulfill the purpose that God has laid out before us. Daily- not just on one single day. More Him, less me. His blessings overflowing…fruit wrapped in the sweetness of blessing.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
My sister is going to get a real kick out of today’s post. She is always poking me a bit because I see God in my soup…tea…leaves…He’s everywhere! Today, sister, it’s not where I saw Him…it’s where I didn’t see Him.
This is my morning coffee. When I got to the bottom, I noticed a curious sight. It was ME! Well, my reflection. Look closely and you can see my eyes and nose along with my disheveled morning hair-do. I still have my glasses on. What a powerful picture! No, not me in all of my morning splendor…but, the reflection as it pertains to our spiritual condition.
When my cup is full and overflowing, my spiritual cup reflects what is above…the Lord himself. When my cup is empty and I am lacking…I see me.
In the morning when I sit at the table to study the Word and pray, He is filling me. He gives me strength for each day, wisdom (if I am listening), direction and peace. More God…less me.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
On the days when I become distracted and put other things first, I become quickly depleted and frustrated. More me…less Him.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me. Psalm 22:14
Only a relationship with God through Jesus Christ can completely fill that cup and satisfy the soul.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Friend, I cannot stress the importance of seeking the Lord early and often.
Don’t wait until you get to the bottom to refill.
You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
You prepare a banquet for me,
where all my enemies can see me;
you welcome me as an honored guest
and fill my cup to the brim.
I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life;
and your house will be my home as long as I live.
Today, I pray that I will replace the contents of my cup to contain less of me and more of God. I pray that I will continually invite the Spirit to refresh that cup as I seek the Lord and his direction and wisdom and that the goodness of Christ will overflow onto those around me. I know that if that cup becomes empty it is because I am not seeking the Lord and the only thing I will find at the bottom is emptiness and self. I pray that God’s reflection will be clearly seen in me and my interactions with my husband, children and others today.
Now…about that refill…
Presence not presents.
Today marks 41 completed trips around the sun for this blooming blogger. So today, I want to share 41 gifts…evidence of God’s presence in my day in the form of blessings and things that simply bring a smile to my face.
1. A cool crisp morning inside the walls of our home.
2. …which created the perfect opportunity to snuggle a little longer with one of the gifts God has given me…
3. …my hubby. A gift straight from God.
4. Seeing his cow-licked swirls peeking from under the covers as I climb to the top bunk to wake him.
5. He moves mountains just to hug me in the morning…mountains of blankets and stuffed animals.
6. Soft music in the morning. Sing praise to the Lord.
7. Lunch boxes in a row
8. Her hair looks like corn silk when I brush it.
9. A smile from under her hoodie as she counts her Lucky Charms.
10. His disbelief that it’s his mother’s birthday…no way! (Oh yeah…because I never age. Right?)
11. Sharing notes from the weekend marriage conference, I Still Do, with a friend.
12. A crystal clear sky…not a cloud.
13. A soft breeze.
14. The slow and subtle change in the color of the trees.
15. A long hug extending from big, strong shoulders.
16. Eating oatmeal together over a morning devotion.
17. That moment of silence in the house as the garage door shuts…Ahhh…just me and my Bible.
18. Manna. Daily bread.
19. A 6 a.m. birthday text from a friend. Years and miles between us, but I feel like we never miss a beat.
20. My Debbie (no need to elaborate…she is amazing)
21. Leopard prints in the Fall
22. A long fuzzy sweater
22. And the purchase of a new pair of jeans that my hubby will approve of (not another pair that I can pull on without unbuttoning them)
23. In a smaller size
24. Two days of phone silence…broken by a birthday song from my sister.
25. Sunroof open letting in the light of the sun
26. Singing at the top of my lungs
27. Alone time with God. Praying in the car or at the bedside…blessed to have that freedom and privilege.
28. His fresh buzz cut under my fingertips.
30. A nuzzle from the pup…an example of unconditional love in flesh and fur
31. A warm home
32. Chinese take-out
33. A family video game night with Super Mario
35. Quality time…a huge gift! I am so blessed by each day that God gives me with this family.
36. Shopping for a new parallel Bible and having so many choices…again, blessed to live in a place where that is possible.
37. Psalm 51 and Psalm 84:10
38. They play
39. A bouquet of fresh flowers
40. A whole day to just “wing-it”.
41. My favorite b-day song. I could sing it 41 times and still sing it once more.
Thank you Lord for your gifts; Large and small. Most of all, I am thankful for the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.