The Better Ground

Hey, dear friends! Last night was another Wednesday, another gathering with our youth.

We managed a little pizza making, a bit of fun, a precious piece of worship, and a life-giving morsel of challenge to persevere in walking upright and in gratitude with the Lord.

And, for myself, I even experienced a slight expansion of tolerance for some of the situations weighing so heavily on me.

It’s not major shifts in my world or circumstances, but, rather, a step by step sort of journey, as I highly suspected it would be. In other words, God is beginning to move as I begin to allow His hand on me in this season of rebirth. A few words of pondering on the process…

The Better Ground

It’s a tough and a tender surrender,

A slow ache in the soul

Of the careful pretender.

Yet, there is a deeper goodness to be

Found

As I learn my Keeper always guides to

The better ground.

Not to say there is a sudden absence

Of pain in the climb

Nor that I don’t weary of

Drumming rain and the dull drag of

Time.

But, as He ministers lifebread along

The way,

Calling out both rest’s sweet

Deliverance

And the urge to seek the crest

With feet of forebearance,

I am gratefully discovering

I am sustained yet another day….

May we each allow the Lord to keep us and guide us in the climb. And may we seek both the perseverance and the gratitude needed. Blessings and prayers, dear friends! Thanks for reading! ❀

A Better Gratitude

Hey, there, friends! Gratitude on the brain for obvious reasons, but also in how it relates to how we spend our precious time-on what and, especially, on Who. Too much is wasted on futile pursuits and disputes, not near enough on sharing the good news of His love. Or, on the sometimes very necessary silence we ought to have before Him.

Time.

It ticks on, draws taut,

Gratitude all but forgot

As we all scramble to do what we think we ought.

Yet, minutes, precious and few,

Are too often frittered away

As comes forth from us the

Sad and endless spew.

Maybe if we all just for a while STOP THE TALKING,

The incessant talking,

The insistent, the maddening, elbow-jabbing bicker

And show even just the tiniest flicker

Of a Christ-like recognition for others,

Let His love truly be our ignition in

How we relate to one another,

Perhaps there could be less seconds

Shed like water down the proverbial drain

And instead the mindless jabber could

Bend

To become a much sweeter, more

Purposeful refrain…

Or maybe even, dare I say a blessed

Silence

When with Him we are at last in twain?😏

Ah, but is this hope of mine

None but a wistful dream?

Looking around at ever errant

Humanity’s darkening signs,

So it would seem…

Yet, I know a God who is greater than

We deserve

Who amazingly is yet extending to us

A grace we could never earn!

And patiently He seeks to guide us in

A better gratitude,

To infuse our attitude with the

Promise of life eternal,

To grow in us a beautiful garden from

A single willing kernel.

Would that we would pay heed to His

Instruction

Before we reach that final junction!

For time spins ever forward,

Well-spent or no.

May we still our wandering

Voices,

To Him look toward…

Tune our thoughts to become

Mindful of our forevers

And our choices,

And let the cross alone point which way to go…

Blessings and prayers on your Thanksgiving, friends! This year proves to be different but all the more reason to be mindful! ❀

Iron Sharpens Iron at the Family Table

Coming back following holidays left my mind tired yet full. This thought rose above others tonight…

Sometimes, it’s difficult to be with family after a long absence.

Well, duh, Captain Obvious. πŸ™„

It’s also difficult to leave them when time draws nigh.

Also pretty much a well duh statement. 😏

There are the numerous delights and countless challenges alike to our spirits in coming together after extended months apart.

You’re no longer a child and your tendency is to attempt earnestly to prove it, all to varying degrees of success.

For, there is also the something of being in their midst that pulls you back to that place of littleness compared to the elders in your life.

In my particular case, there’s a lot of shadows to that former existence, some areas stepped into tentatively, others not at all.

Apprehension can seize my soul if I don’t take care to surrender it to His hand.

Now, forgiveness has been flowing in abundance among us for decades now, and, yet, must still rise up to be met again in entering into one another’s presence.

Past is not swept under any rugs, by any means, but, in looking back, love softens the edges of the pain.

Hearts don’t necessarily forget all the twinges, but they do connect afresh through the knowledge Christ makes all things new.

Including each other.

And, then, we get to share that newness of being. What a wonder that is!

Thoughts fly back and forth across the table. Struggles are examined in a different light, growth is noted, wisdom imparted.

Each moment, both the tender and the hard, threads itself to the ever-changing tapestry of our existence, tethering us tighter together.

Iron sharpening iron sounds sort of scary at first glance, but, how it shows itself in our lives can be incredible.

Home can be a great place to see this at work, for you get to surprise each other with what God’s given us to bring to the table.

You get to witness the learning you each have done and become that safe place to reach across said table with it.

It may not exactly feel like light family fun at times, yet these times the Lord affords us to deepen our walks, both with Him and with one another, are vital.

Hence, the observation at the beginning.

Difficult to be there, difficult to leave…

But, this truth I hold fast to to keep me going:

God grants us fond memories to soothe the bittersweet and carry us through to the next day we meet.

In Him, we are never truly apart.

I hope your Thanksgiving was a blessed one, dear friends. May we ever seek those iron sharpening situations, whether by family, by friends, or both.

Gratefully His

I have had many a lofty thought rolling around in this old brain lately.

Lots going on in this world to inspire a lot of pondering, to say the least.

Yet, I find the moment of putting pen to paper…oy, showing my age here- 😏

I should say, putting fingers to keys- everything I think ought to be said vanishes like a puff of wind.

Therefore, I will leave aside all more ambitious thoughts and adhere instead to what I feel He wants me to say as we gear up to a busy and bountiful week.

I just want to say how grateful I am to be His.

The idea the Lord of this vast universe takes note of a humble speck like me is absolutely…

Astonishing. Just, well, astonishing!

May I never cease to be in awe of this fact!

The grace He bestowed on us through Christ’s death and resurrection is absolutely the most beautiful truth in this life.

That He has allowed me to partake of it overwhelms my heart.

I am grateful for the people He’s planted next to me to share in that truth, the love He graciously pours out through them, the dear, growing, learning, amazing children He entrusts to my hand.

For blessed forgiveness, both the opportunity to extend it as well as to receive it.

For the incredible miracle that is simply redeeming the time.

For second chances.

And forthieth. πŸ™‚

Because, boy, do I need them!

Furthermore, I am grateful for this welcoming place of fellowship and you wonderful folks who share in this pursuit of the written word with me…

As well as in pursuit of His word with me!

So, in this spirit of gratitude, I say thanks-for writing your terrific and terrifically challenging posts.

Thanks also for reading mine. ☺

May your Thanksgiving be joyful, surrounded by His love and goodness.

Prayers and blessings to you, dear friends!

We’re Missing the Point

There are moments in our lives where we really think we’ve got it all together.

Thoughts are threading nicely, dreams are dovetailing with reality.

Plans meet in a beautiful, purposeful way, blossoming out before our wondering eyes.

It is in these moments we are at what we see as the veritable heights of humanity.

The pinnacle of delight in our own achievements…

And the most vulnerable- if we forget to acknowledge the Giver of these good things.

Beyond just a flippant throwaway grace over dinner. πŸ˜‰

Now, comfortable doesn’t have to be bad. Comfortable is something we each of us quite naturally crave.

In my special needs family, it can be extremely important on any given day! πŸ™‚

Yet, I don’t really think it’s the chief aim of the Christian life.

Because, when we’re overly comfortable, we as humans are prone to neglect gratitude.

Far too prone.

Abundance was a hallmark of my previous church existence. We all of us were expected to have it or thirst for it.

Abundance isn’t evil, of course.

Jesus did say, after all, He came to give us life and life more abundantly.

But, then, consider that the word “abundant” can have several interpretations.

Some temporal, as my old church clung to.

Some eternal-that which I now tend to believe Jesus was really referring to.

Abundance in the former defintion, again, is not necessarily wrong in of itself.

In fact, it can be amazing, but in it often comes the danger of falling into a dismaying forgetfulness.

Of the life prior to it, of the lives in the shadow of it, of the promise of abundant life to come.

Most of all, of the Lord who benevolently pours it all out.

We may start out with a hearty “Thank you, Jesus!” but, without taking care, that thankfulness tends to fade.

We begin thinking somehow we did it all, that something in our infinitesimal efforts is what caused these blessings to be.

Pride slips in, entitlement soon follows, and, sadly thereafter, enters in a sour dissatisfaction with the current level of abundance.

There comes in a stingy sort of fear that what we do have can be snatched, that only in anxious grasping as at an old blanket can we hold on to it.

That only in further chasing down can there be a return to the brief time on the mountain top.

We stumble through screaming for our rights, but we lose all sense of righteousness in the process.

When triumph comes, we tend to say, “Look at what I did!” with nary but a cursory glance at He who equips us.

But, when struggle comes in, when life looks a little less rosy?

Ah, then we recall Him! Typically, either to vent anger or to beg favors.

And, in all that fruitless scramble, we tragically miss the point of living for Christ altogether, reducing Him to a kind of slot machine we love when all is overflowing, but resent when our land isn’t so plentiful.

Oh, this should not be so, friends!

To cheapen this gracious gift of the Christian life to a lot of “what-about-me’s” just cheats our hearts and souls in the end.

Of the joy of the Lord that is born in the thick of the come what may.

Of the love of God that sees beyond the temporary trappings of this world to the eternal hope of heaven.

Of the blessed truth that sheds light on the struggling we might not otherwise notice in our state of abundance.

Points we really don’t want to miss in the midst of “having it all together”.

Prayers and blessings, dear friends! May we seek ever after gratitude for all He gives us, especially the gift of eternal life.

Counting it All Joy When Troubles Are Numerous

Ok. So this one somehow needed a photo. Nothing represents joy like a child’s art. (Plus, I am experimenting, frankly. I can’t help noticing some friends are missing lately. Even if I’m not supposed to care or really talk about it if I want to be a “cool” blogger projecting self-confidence, I find I just have this overflow of honesty that spills out.☺️ So, I figured maybe a picture will get someone to stop long enough to read. πŸ˜‰ ) Ok, so that little spiel out of the way…

The following is brought to you by my long ago days of daycare teaching πŸ™‚:

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy

Down in my heart.

Where?

Down in my heart!

Where?

Down in my heart!

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy

Down in my heart.

Down in my heart to stay!

Cute little song for cute little voices. πŸ™‚

On my best days, I could abandon the cares of my busy single mom world and frolic through it with a class of toddlers. You might have trouble picking the teacher out of the crowd then. πŸ˜‰

And on the worst days?

Well, you’d be hard-pressed to detect it, as I was a firm believer in the fake-it-for-the-young-ones, but, on those days, the words honestly tasted like the sand of hypocrisy in my mouth and weighed like the lead of disbelief on my soul.

The “where?” was less a perky prelude to sharing the location of said feeling than it was a desperate inner cry to find it.

Because, on those days, there’s nothing more to say than I was tapped out.

And feeling guilty for it all the while!

Not a fun place to hang your hat on to say the least.

So…how did I go from there to genuine, lasting joy?πŸ€”

Well, I can’t say I always immediately remember this key all the time even now.

Because, well, being human means being prone to forget. πŸ™„

But, essentially, it comes down to a total surrender to and reliance on Jesus at all times.

And that doesn’t mean a Jesus-life-stinks-please-fix-this-now mentality.

He isn’t a genie in a bottle, after all.

Nor is it a happy only-when-life-is-good fickleness.

No…rather, it is a Jesus-this-does-hurt-but-I-know-You’re-there feeling.

It’s a gratitude that pushes beyond this present life and rejoices in the knowledge of life everlasting through trust in Christ.

It’s not living in denial, pretending all is great all the time.

Because, we all know that, sometimes, it’s just not.

But, it is a recognition that there is a help and a hope that carries us through all that not so great stuff.

When we abide in Him.

Can’t say as I can always sing that song with abandon even now, but, the more I know the Lord, the deeper goes that quiet assurance allowing the words to resonate in my heart, no matter the outward circumstances.

May we approach each day with His joy down in our hearts. Blessings, friends.

Of Trust and Forgiveness

Thanks to my dear brother-in-Christ David Ettinger for stirring my heart on the direction to head next here…

Trust.

A very difficult matter in my soul.

Has been since I can remember.

Being a four-year-old girl and already so unsure of your world you don’t really let anyone in is not the sort of thing one likes to spend a lot of time talking over- though I have written of it in blogs and book past. πŸ™‚ ( Hello, old friends. You might remember some places where I’m going to go. I’ll try to add fresh perspective here.)

I haven’t brought it up in this venture much yet for reasons I’ve alluded to before.

But, today, in participating in a great and challenging discussion about Joseph and his brothers, my heart felt a pull towards discussing a bit more about the issues of trust and forgiveness.

Particularly, how they have manifested in my forty-plus years experience on this earth.

So, for testimony’s sake…back to that little girl. I hope I can make this concise enough. So much to tell…

I can’t quite remember the first time my mother turned on the sudden switch and took out her displeasure on me verbally and physically.

That part of my past is more a patchwork quilt of living, ragged at the edges, wild, screaming colors representative of the tough days, some muted squares for the quieter ones.

All I knew was what the proverbial eggshells felt like to walk on from an early age.

I tried very, very hard to be as good and unobtrusive as I possibly could, tucking myself away with my older brother most of the time, asking for as little as possible.

Dancing lightly around the edges of the days she poured out unexpected affection, taking it as a momentary relief, but being sure to remind myself it wouldn’t last.

In the midst of all this, my dad was on the road working, home some weekends, very much aware of us and yet…not.

They’d take us to church a lot of Sundays, various non-denominational gatherings that leaned heavily on “experiential” services.

Somewhere in there I did hear about Jesus loving me. I prayed a sinner’s prayer once with a Sunday School teacher, a prayer I didn’t fully grasp then, other than that I was full of intense longing for this unconditional love thing they spoke of.

And wondering how it could possibly be real.

There wasn’t much discipleship to assist with that, honestly. Mostly, a confusing jumble of “laying on hands”, urging for the further “baptism in the spirit”, and the occasional Bible story from my dad when he could be home.

I wanted to believe this Jesus was doing a work in me, but, like most of my world, my understanding was just…unsure.

So, that is how I grew up, mostly ducking in the shadows. Not much changed for quite some time. By middle school, church was something fading from our world after a sour experience at our last go-around with attendance.

Sometimes, my dad would play a B.J. Thomas or Sandi Patti record and I’d hear God’s name. I’d remember He was supposed to love me. But, honestly, I struggled to feel it in the midst of the pain.

Thoughts of suicide crept in, though I can’t say courage to carry it out then was there. I really just wanted someone to see me. Anyone.

Then, low and behold, my parents started to go to a new church. Still very much in the charismatic vein, but, they didn’t make my brother and I go this time.

And something in those services resonated with my mom. We never sat down for a big conversation in those days, but, by the time I hit high school, the abuse began to fade away.

It was surprising, to say the least. Yet, I remained wary. The other shoe always, always dropped. If I put my guard down, she could blindside me.

However, my dad did finally persuade me to attend a few services for myself, hoping, I think, that this would help us all heal. My brother, for his part, was having none of it. Felt weird to break from my loyalest friend, but go I did.

Yet, where I so wanted this to be it for me, I couldn’t find my fit. Between the heartfelt worship still came too many unusual practices I could not figure out for the life of me.

Maybe it was doing my mom and dad good, I thought at the time, but not me ( Charismania is a whole other ball of wax for another post, by the way. I’ll delve into it further down the blogging road for any wanting a more detailed perspective.).

So, out of that came my “pinball” years, ricocheting from that bewilderment into the relationship that would become my first marriage, attending a few different types of churches with him, in some still feeling a disconnect, but one in which I can say Jesus did become real to me at last, thanks to some very loving mentors.

Forever grateful for the tender way they took a wounded girl and showed her the grace of the cross in a way no one ever had.

But, still, the man who’d be my first husband and I were prone to drifting and, honestly, dragging each other down. Egos and lack of trust kept getting in the way of growth in the Lord and in our relationship.

Eventually, after a few bounces, we began to give heart and soul into his desire for youth ministry, hoping that would give us much-needed stability.

But, three kids (one still in the womb) and nearly complete studies later, the strains of our all-too-often emotionally stunted existence had collapsed us.

He found comfort in someone else’s arms and the kids and I were left behind.

And a lance stabbed through my ability to trust in love once again.

Suicide’s dark spector revisited in earnest, but, blessedly, not for long. Because, Jesus was there, too. Only a whispered prayer away.

My desperate prayers, yes.

But not mine alone!

My mother and father were on their knees, too.

As well as by my side, scooping up the grandkids and me with more overwhelming love than I had ever known from them.

My wariness took time, but, finally, it began to melt away and forgiveness began to bloom.

Need has a way of threading together healing in broken hearts.

On this point, the story of Joseph and his brothers resonates with me.

“Though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good…” Gen. 50:20

For it was need that circled all the pain of those years back around and knit that family back together, too.

All those thousands of years ago, and God is still the same.

Still about the business of reconciliation-when we give our hurt over to Him.

If you find yourself hurting and just need someone to pray with you, send me an e-mail via the info page.

God bless you!

The Power of Remembrance

I love the faith chapter of Hebrews 11. So many people seeing incredible happenings by faith. Some not even seeing the full fruition of promises, but knowing the God they trust is faithful to complete the good works begun.

Many seeing a redemption of their times, as well as the redemption to come.

It reminds my heart how He really does make beauty for ashes.

And, when the Lord takes those ashes and makes beauty, it is like watching dirt suddenly become butterflies, lighting for the skies.

A wonder to behold so astounding you can scarcely register it.

But, sometimes, the wonder gets lost.

For, despite all the initial awe, despite the awesome inspiration the faith chapter can be, what insidious complacency can come to rob our gratitude!

And what then about the next round of soot needing His breath upon it?

Do I merely begin again at the proverbial drawing board, wringing my hands, the brilliant beauties of before all but dismissed from my mind?

Hopefully not, but, to be honest with you, it takes a resurrection of memory at times, even with all He’s brought me through, to unearth my latent thankfulness.

This is not the same, of course as tipping into a brooding on the past.

That would be unhealthy indeed!

No, this is a reminder of a different kind, one which always leads to the infinite goodness of His sustaining hand.

There is power in this sort of remembrance, when it comes from a place of seeking Him. It’s actually an important key which the faith chapter holds:

The retelling of what He has done before can serve to remind us of what He can do now.

For He is the same God today, yesterday, and forever.

It’s only us who wavers in forgetfulness.

Ah, but thank the Lord for His eternal graciousness!

I marvel at the patient Abba Father way He keeps taking what we’ve crumbled into dust, and reshaping it into bright beautiful things winging through the atmosphere!

May we remember, not with dwelling but with gratitude, all He has done before and look forward with trust what He will do again.

Blessings, friends!