Catch and Release

My husband is a fly-fisherman.  The first time after we were married that he went to the Little Red River in Arkansas for a day of fly-fishing, I was excited.  I love trout.  Imagine my dismay when he came home that evening with no fish.  I thought he hadn’t had a good day, but he had a great time.  “Where are the fish?” I asked.  “I threw them back,” he replied.  I didn’t understand.  If you weren’t going to eat them, what was the point?  When I was growing up, my dad loved fishing and hunting and always brought back his “prizes” for our table.  Now it was crappie and bass, not trout.  But that was my frame of reference.  I learned from Mark that fly-fishing is an art. The satisfaction is in hooking them with your skill and with the flies that you have tied. The rule of etiquette is to “catch and release,” i.e., throw them back.

I have been talking to the Lord about my reluctance to post on my little blog even though I’m always writing what he gives me in my journal.  So yesterday when I was out walking Chloe and I heard “catch and release,” I pressed in to listen to the Spirit. I believe that ministry is all about “the one.”  When I write and share it, I trust that the Spirit will take it to who he wants to receive it.  But that old bugaboo, the flesh, gets in the way; that nagging voice that says, “People don’t want to read this.  And even if they do, what must they think of you bearing your soul?  Who do you think you are?”  Shaming thoughts.  And so I often hold onto the words that he gives me.  I don’t release them.

I needed to dig a little deeper.  I thought of Moses when he was afraid to obey God and go back to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of slavery.  He asked God, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”  Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”  “A staff,” he replied.  The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”  When Moses threw it on the ground, it became a snake, and when God told him to take it by the tail, it became a staff again.  “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord … has appeared to you” (Exodus 4:1-4).

Isn’t that all the Lord asks of us, “What have I put in your hand?”  The answer is different for each of us, and it can change too.  But whatever he puts in our hands (such as a pen in my case, or a desire to serve, or a singing voice, or a prophetic gift, even full-time ministry, etc.), he is the one that gives us the power to use it.  Our part is to “catch it,” catch the gift or the talent he is putting in our hands, and he will empower it as we release it back to him.

Next the Lord showed me in his Word what happens when it’s released.  In the feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21), Jesus asked the disciples what they had in their hands.  All they had was a little boy’s lunch which consisted of two fish and five loaves of bread.  But when that was released to Jesus, he multiplied it to feed everyone who had come to hear him with more left over.  When we release, he is the one that multiplies.

What the Lord was telling me is that which we don’t release dies.  If he gives me words to share and I don’t obey, the words go nowhere.  No new life is produced from them.  It’s just like the trout will die if they are brought home and put under the broiler or fried up in a pan.  But if I release what I have caught, what he gives me through the empowering of the Spirit, he will bring the multiplication, the fruit.  It doesn’t matter if I ever know how or why or to whom.  Sometimes it’s even better that I don’t, because true satisfaction is found simply in being faithful to him.

I hope I’ve described these images in a way that brings the same freedom to you that the Lord is giving me.  We are simply his vessels, his little clay pots.  A gift or talent doesn’t define who we are.  It is not our identity.  We may search for what that one thing is, that ministry or gift, feeling we aren’t worthy if we’re not doing something significant.  But when we do that, are we not trying to take ownership of it?

The truth is we are already worthy because Jesus is worthy.  And when he died for us on that cross, we became the righteousness of God in him.  Nothing we do or don’t do changes that.  So by his grace, when we walk with the Spirit and not by the flesh, we simply take what he puts in our hands and let him move through us as we catch and release.  Thank you, Jesus, that it’s all you.  Amen.

P.S. Yes, Mark did bring home some trout for me to eat after that, occasionally!

This is Mark on the Little Red, taken by his son's iPhone camera.

This is Mark on the Little Red, taken by his son’s iPhone camera.

 

 

THANKFUL FOR THANKSGIVING

My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.
Psalm 131:1-2

A weaned child no longer demands his mother’s breast.  He is now content just to be with her.  I have learned the secret of being content, Philippians 4:12This is tied up in identity.  We search for it and search for it, demanding that we find it.  But the world is too big, and we can’t do it all, see it all, be all things.  The man who looks in the mirror but walks away and quickly forgets what he looks like (James 2:23-24) is us when we don’t let the laser-sharp lens of Scripture penetrate our hearts, for only God can tell us who we are.  Instead, we give it a quick glance and then go back to the frenetic pace of our lives, all the while letting the enemy dissect us into little pieces, when our true identity is in the whole.

I’m reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and it is opening my eyes to eucharisteo, to thanksgiving.  Why had I never heard of this wonderful book before?  All I know is that the Lord put it in my hands at the huge library book sale, tossed on a table amidst hundreds of books.  Long ago the Holy Spirit had highlighted for me I Thessalonians 5:16-18, Rejoice always, pray continually, in all things give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.  I knew this verse was important then, and I truly was thankful.  I continually thank him for the way he’s restored my life.

A year ago when I was struggling with missing my family, a friend gave me a gratitude journal, a book of empty pages for me to write down five things every day to be thankful for.  I wrote down the usual for a while—Jesus, my husband, my family, my friends, my health—but I didn’t understand the farther reach this practice was intended to take until I started reading this book.  I didn’t understand looking for God’s gifts of grace in the day-to-day, moment-by-moment of living.

Ann Voskamp points out that thanksgiving is what connects us to the divine.  Stopping to name what God has given us opens our eyes to his presence in thousands of different ways.  Things I had rushed by are now in clear focus, from the smallest to the greatest, the ways God shows me he is with me every moment (e.g. the joy of gathering pecans dropped from our trees, my first cup of hot coffee in the morning, holding hands with Mark in the mall).  I’ve taken up Ann’s challenge to list one thousand things for which I’m thankful.  I’ve always known that life is intended to be experienced slowly, deliberately, intentionally, but it’s taken a lifetime to put it into practice.

I don’t concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.  I’m in process of letting go of all that was not appointed for me.  I’m opening my eyes to what God has appointed to me, the things for which he truly made me to walk in, the way that I have been designed, the way that only I can reflect that part of him.  It is for freedom that I have come to set you free, Galatians 5:1, (freedom from everything that hinders your receiving my love). Stand firm, then, and don’t let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  This is my life verse.  The Lord continues to reveal what slavery looks like in my life, past and present.  But maybe the most important aspect of slavery is not living in the design that God created uniquely for each of us.

I see a woman in labor, body furiously working to expel the new life within her so that it can live on its own.  I feel that so much of my life has been labor with all the enemy has thrown against me to keep me laboring.  Yet when God in his mercy says, “It’s time,” that new life is born and can breathe in the life God intends for it to have.  The enemy would have all of us stay in labor our entire lives, pushing, pushing, pushing.  Our identities in Christ have to be disentangled from all the bondage that hinders us from being truly who we were created to be.

Much healing has taken place, and I know more will come.  I felt a huge shift when the Lord healed my broken heart (from leaving my children and grandchildren to move to Texas) so profoundly with his Word.  That healing, which I will write about soon, has remained.  But I have calmed and quieted myself.  I am like a weaned child with its mother.  Like a weaned child, I am content.  Although I will miss seeing my family, I can celebrate Thanksgiving in Texas with Mark and dear friends and not feel pain that I’m not in Arkansas for this holiday.

It’s now clear to see that thanksgiving and contentment go hand in hand. It’s saying, “Yes, Lord, I agree with your good and perfect plan for my life right now, for this moment.”  So though it may sound kind of odd, this Thanksgiving I’m thankful for……thanksgiving.  I’m thankful to be learning what that word truly means:  peace, contentment, continually dwelling in the presence of God.  Yes, Lord, teach us all how to live as weaned children, content in your presence, wrapped in your love.

 

The Place Where He is Enough

There is a place I haven’t reached, but I want to go there.  I’m painfully aware of all the distractions in my life, distractions that, for the most part, I have control over.  Jesus, you have brought me through many such moments, when something is released and I step into a new place of intimacy with you.  But the world calls.  The world competes.  Like a pack of hungry wolves, it encircles me, waiting for the moment my mind strays and lets the flesh take over.  And then self takes the throne.

Yet because of your sweet mercy, I’m never unaware of your presence.  I long for you, but I don’t always recognize it’s you that I’m longing for.  I’m hungry to read everything I can about rest and peace and simplicity, about matters of the heart.  Why, then, is it so hard to let go of my idols, the silly little things I think I need to fill the space in my heart that only you can fill?

You say in your Word, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.  You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’  Therefore you will flee!  You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’  Therefore your pursuers will be swift!” (Isaiah 30:15-16).  This is the sobering truth:  We make the choice, and we suffer the consequences.  When you offer the very things I long for, why do I so often choose to be my own god?  What am I afraid of?

Your Word says, “How gracious He will be when you cry for help!  As soon as He hears, He will answer you.  Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them.  Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.  Then you will desecrate your idols….and throw them away…’”  (Isaiah 30:19-22).

This life isn’t permanent.  Only you know how many days are ordained for me.  I want to go to that place, the place where you are enough, and live there forever.  So I come to you again, Lord.  I surrender, but I need you to come and get me.  I need your grace to say yes to you and no to the world, moment by moment.  I know you are faithful.  Thank you that you never stop pursuing me.  Amen.

A New Beginning: My Daughter’s Move to West Virginia

Colton, Kaitlin, and Lincoln

Colton, Kaitlin, and Lincoln

Two years ago on July 4th, Mark and I packed up the U-Haul in Arkansas and moved to Texas, leaving children and grandchildren behind (the unthinkable!), because the Lord said we were to go.  The last two years have been wonderful but sometimes painful, full of blessings but also challenges.  And God has proved Himself faithful, as He always does.

This past weekend my daughter Susan and husband Chris packed up the U-Haul in Arkansas and moved with their children, Kaitlin, Colton, and Lincoln, to West Virginia, leaving family and everything familiar behind.  Chris, who works for an oil and gas company, had already been working on location in WV for 13 months, only able to come home a few days every so often.  He missed Christmas but made it home in time for the birth of their youngest son in February.

Why didn’t they just move up there together?  Well, if you know anything about the oil and gas industry, it fluctuates wildly, so jobs are unstable.  Susan had been working at her job for ten years, so it would be a hard decision to leave it, not knowing if it would work out in WV.  Plus, she was pregnant, which is definitely not the optimum time to go looking for a new job.  So they waited…and waited.

But God was working a bigger plan, one that is about faith and obedience, about knowing Him intimately.  James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy… when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  None of us says of trials, “Yes, Lord, bring it on!”  And yet they are for our good, so we will know Him, not just know about Him.

God has been speaking to my daughter’s heart this past year while she and Chris have lived apart.  I saw strength and courage rise up in her as she went through her pregnancy essentially alone.  I saw her grieve when she had to go back to work after maternity leave and put Lincoln in day care, wanting so much to stay home with him his first year.  When that wasn’t possible, she picked herself up and did what she had to do.  It was clear that status quo was not an alternative.  They had to get their family back together.  So she stepped out in faith and started applying for jobs in WV.

I would be amiss to not mention the sacrifice that Chris has made during this period of time.  The irony is that he left serving in the military with its yearly six-month deployments so he could be a full-time father to his children.  Later he went to school for oil and gas and landed his current job, fully expecting that his family would be able to follow.  But then gas prices dropped…and dropped… and dropped.  Layoffs have been frequent.  Chris and Susan didn’t know from one day to the next what would happen.

God’s timing is perfect, however, even when we don’t understand it.  Susan quickly got a job interview for a position that she was well-qualified for.  She was tentatively offered the job the same day of the interview, but she was to wait a week for confirmation.  Now the struggle truly began.  What if she quit her job, moved her children to a state far away where they knew no one, and Chris was sent somewhere else to work, or worse, if he was laid off and didn’t have a job, period?

Susan awoke one morning the next week, still wrestling with what she should do.  Even if everything else fell into place, they didn’t have the money to cover moving expenses.  She was afraid.  But then she heard the Lord clearly speak to her and tell her to go.  And in her own words, she said that although she didn’t see how they were going to get there, she was more afraid of not obeying God.  My heart was flooded with peace when she told me that.  The new job was confirmed that same day.

Susan was overwhelmingly busy the next ten days, going through everything they owned, holding a garage sale (with a five-month-old in tow), as well as an online garage sale, and wheeling and dealing to sell everything they could to scrape up enough money to move.  The Lord moved on the hearts of a few dear ones to contribute also.   Chris couldn’t come home until a couple of days before the actual move, and Susan was still working while doing most of this alone, with some help from family with the packing.   God provided.

Changes are hard because even the right decisions can be painful.  Watching my daughter go through this process, my thoughts turned to when Mark and I moved out of state.  When God is calling you, I think He gives you the grace of tunnel vision.  We had many details to take care of…..moving out of a comfortable home, with family literally a few blocks away, to an older duplex in a city that we knew little about. These “details” would naturally raise the question, “Why are we doing this?”  It didn’t make sense in the natural, but God said, “Go,” and he clearly confirmed it in our hearts.

When Susan said, “I was more afraid of not obeying God than how we were going to make it,” I knew exactly what she meant.  It isn’t the fear of punishment.  It’s the fear of missing out on what God has for us, his plan, his purpose.  The deep knowing that you are following God compels you to go.  Does that mean it will be easy, that there will be no pain?  Not at all.  I haven’t posted on this blog for months because the Lord has been leading me through an intimate process with Him to heal my heart.  And he has.

Now just a week out from their move, I picture my daughter and her little family so many miles away, and my heart hurts that I won’t see them when we go home to Arkansas to visit the next time.  Yet at the same time, I’m full of joy because I know they are in God’s will.  And I know because of this trial, her faith has grown, and she knows the Lord more intimately than she did before. 

Tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday.  And this message is for her:  Susan, I have never been more proud of you.  You have proved your faith by taking this risk and trusting God.  You have always been your own person, independent and strong, but you are also your mother’s child, for through this process I have seen myself in you.  I can’t wait to see what the Lord has for you in West Virginia.  I love you very much.  Happy birthday!

A Double Portion

My former husband was a good man and a believer, but he was in bondage due to strongholds and ancestral sin.  He died a premature death that was stamped with the enemy’s trademark.  The enemy of our souls would have my children carry this shame and pass it down to their children.  But Jesus “shamed the shame” when he died for us, who were the joy set before him, as he endured the cross.  (Hebrews 12:2).  My children and I defeated his plans through the cross with love and forgiveness, but there’s more to this story.

My son….my son.  He was the last one in his generational line to carry the family name.  When his father died, Steven gave up walking in the world and gave Jesus both of his hands, renouncing the ancestral heritage of bondage.  In the past eight-and-a-half years, the Lord has transformed him into a tremendous man of God.  He and his precious wife Jennifer resolved to raise up a new standard and raise godly children.  A son was born, a “junior,” who carries his father and grandfather’s name, and then a sweet daughter followed.

And now just ten days ago, twin sons were born.  When Steven and Jennifer found out the twins were boys, the Lord immediately gave me this Scripture, Isaiah 61:7.  Instead of shame, they are receiving a double portion, two more sons to carry on a godly legacy.

Instead of your shame, you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace, you will rejoice in your inheritance.  And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

Benjamin was born first in a smooth and uncomplicated delivery.  But little Thompson’s birth was difficult and traumatic.  Then Jennifer had complications due to blood loss.  Her blood pressure became dangerously low, and she had to be given transfusions the night of the births and again the next day.  It seemed that the enemy was coming against the victory that had been won and the legacy the Lord was giving them.

I traveled back home to Texas yesterday after being with them for the big event.   This morning I have been sitting with the Lord, reflecting on all that happened.  And I clearly heard from the Spirit, “The purposes of God cannot be thwarted.”  Searching the Scriptures, I was filled with joy and thankfulness as I read the following verses from Isaiah 14:24 and 14:27.

The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.

For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?

Yes and amen to the word of the Lord!  Welcome, Benjamin and Thompson! IMG_2936 Your legacy is a story of restoration, a story of the goodness of the Lord who redeems us and is so generous, ready to rush in the moment we say yes to him.  As your grandmother, I bless you in the name of the Lord our God.  And I declare in the name of Jesus that you, along with your brother Lane and sister Kennedy, will be mighty in the kingdom of our Lord.

Jesus, I am truly blessed among women.  Thank you for your love, mercy, and grace to my family.  You are the Faithful and True.  I love you.  Amen.

IMG_2762

IMG_2761

 

Come With Me

It’s New Year’s Day, and maybe it’s just me, but the passing of another year is always bittersweet.  I’m so thankful for the time I’ve had, but somewhere in my soul is the cry, “Am I missing it?”  I have written much about searching for who God created me to be and not knowing my place now that my children are grown and as I’ve moved away from my entire family.  And yet I sense this is only the beginning of what the Lord has for me.  As I prayed this out, I heard the words, “Come with me and be my love.”  I searched the Scriptures and was led to Song of Solomon 2:10-13:

My beloved spoke to me and said, “Arise my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.  See!  The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in the land.  The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.  Arise, come, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.”

And I know this is my word from Jesus for 2016.  For He is THE answer. He is the only one who can quiet the unrest, the longing, the ache.  In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.  Unless our eyes are fixed on Jesus, there is only the grasping of what we can find here to fill us.  There is a desperation to find our next “fix” whether it’s food or entertainment or Facebook, where we sometimes “put ourselves out there,” hoping to be affirmed by the “likes” and the comments, so that the ache will be assuaged for a moment.

We were created by God to need Him, and the enemy of our souls knows it.  And so we are bombarded with temptations and lies to buy into, so that for a brief moment, we can feel alive.  But that’s just it–it’s only for a moment.  For the world and its lusts are passing away, but my Word will never pass away.

Lord, help me.  Yes, I want to come with you.  I know you have saved me for eternity, but I need to be with you now.  There is no one else who can give me life here.  Let me hear your voice over the din and clamor of this world.  Jesus, I don’t want to miss you now, here, in 2016.  I sat with my mother through the night when her life slipped away, so honored to witness her passing, but seeing the finality of life here on earth.  I have buried a husband, seeing all that consumed him vanish in a moment.  To be near my last breath and know that I have missed you is my greatest fear.

But He gives us more grace.  “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one.  Come with me!”  Jesus, help me come!  Thank you for the new year.  Help all of us, those who are called by your name, to come.  Amen.

 

Where Are You, Christmas?

Where are you, Christmas?  Why can’t I find you?  Why have you gone away?  My world is changing, I’m rearranging.  Does that mean Christmas changes too?

Eight years ago, I experienced my first Christmas as a widow.  The season of raising children, celebrating holidays with family traditions, and living in that comfortable rhythm of life was over.  I struggled to find my equilibrium, held in the loving arms of Jesus.  My children were a tremendous support even though I know they felt as displaced as I did.  Then Christmas of 2009, I seemed to be at my lowest point, as over time reality had descended on me like a fog.  That’s when I found the words of the song that Cindy Lu Who sang in “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” so fitting.

Where are you, Christmas?  Do you remember the girl you used to know?  You and I were so carefree; now nothing’s easy.  Did Christmas change or just me?

The Lord spoke to me that Christmas in the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”  Isaiah 43:18-19.  And in February 2010, I met Mark.  We knew immediately God had brought us together.  We fell in love and were married four-and-a-half months later.  The new thing had begun!  The Lord has us on quite an adventure together with our ministry calling and our move to Texas in the summer of 2014, leaving children and grandchildren behind.  Only the Lord could make that happen.

Christmastime often evokes feelings of happiness and sadness at the same time.  Now in 2015, I’m thrilled to be in our new little house in Waco.  But the last several days I have found myself emotionally in a similar place.  “My world is changing, I’m rearranging…..You and I were so carefree; now nothing’s easy.  Did Christmas change or just me?”  Still searching for my place.  It was easy to know my place during the years I was a wife and mom, a court reporter, and then a Nana.  I probably didn’t even have time to reflect on it!  I think in my heart I keep looking for what can never be again, isn’t supposed to be.

The truth is life is change-we can’t stop time.  To everything there is a season, as is written in Ecclesiastes.  As I sought the Lord, he showed me a new aspect of the well-known Scripture, Luke 9:23-24.  “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find his very self.”

Whoever wishes to save his life….what does that mean?  The Lord showed me that to try to preserve that which makes me feel safe is trying to save my life and keeps me from being with him in the present.  What does it mean to “lose my life for his sake”?  He showed me it means to let go.  To let go of anything I look to from the past to make me feel okay.  To deny myself by giving up control, which is really only the illusion of control, to the only One who will save me and continue saving me.

Truly, feelings of loss and the ache to fill that void is at heart a yearning of what is complete and perfect love, and that is found only in Jesus.  Losing my life means taking every thought, every feeling of sorrow, every ache or yearning to him and letting him replace my natural emotions with the supernatural fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

So the answer is no, Christmas hasn’t changed.  Christmas has never been about comfort and traditions or the things of man.  Christmas is about the birth of a baby, the Christ child, the Savior, the hope of the world.  And the more I press into him, the more the past will lose its power to steal my peace.  Jesus, fix my eyes on you, the One who knew me in my mother’s womb, the One who knows me now, the One who knows who I will be when I am made perfect on the day I see you face to face.  Thank you for patiently loving me while I cycle through these emotions again.  Thank you that you continually are doing “a new thing”!  Help me to step into all that you have for me in the present.  Amen.

 

Birthday Reflections

 

Tomorrow I will be sixty years old.  I think I’ve been contemplating this birthday ever since I turned 59.  And now that it is here, I’m still struggling to come to terms with it.  Sixty today isn’t old, but it’s like the “young part” of your older years.  I’ve been saying the struggle is not about facing my own mortality.  I’ve been lying.  It is about that, and so much more.  Have I lived well?  What about all the wrong choices I can’t go back and change?

We were blessed with a beautiful new grandson this week, and over the next seven months, we will have three more. That will bring us up to nine!  And while I’m excited and happy for all my children (and proud), I’m wondering if it’s possible to be a part of their lives, especially with the distance in miles.  Will I even to see them all grow up?  Will they even know me?

It’s sobering to consider these things, but at the same time it’s oddly freeing.  The thing is we should always examine our lives to see if we are living on purpose; in other words, living intentionally.  For me that means putting God first, seeking him, sitting at his feet, and inviting the Spirit to take control.  I know this is why Jesus says we have to die to self daily.  He knows our propensity to take back our own lives and be our own gods.  And I’m not very good at being my own god.

So yesterday I had some special time with the Lord to talk about my birthday.  I saw myself swimming in the ocean, deep under the water, struggling to get to the surface so I could breathe some precious air.  It was taking every ounce of energy I had to keep swimming.  But then I heard the muffled sounds above the water and saw light begin to filter through.  And as I redoubled my efforts to make it to the top, suddenly strong arms reached down and lifted me out of the water.

I knew the Lord was giving me a picture of my struggling to carry weight that is not mine to carry.  And as always, when I turn back and look at him, he comes for me.   There were some tears in my time with him.  There was truth spoken, some of it hard to hear.  And there was grace, much grace.  “Let go.  Trust me with those you love.  I’ve got them.  Your husband needs you.  Someone needs to know me through your writing.  I have so much for you in this new season, my daughter.  I want you to be a light for me.  Let go, and then you will be able to truly love.”

Last night I had a wonderful birthday dinner with my man, a beautiful evening in every way. Today I will share a family birthday party with my 11-year-old granddaughter with food on the grill and cake and a sea of toddlers running around the backyard and splashing in the kiddie pool.  And I will get to hold my new days-old grandson.  I could not be more blessed.  Awwwww….now I can breathe.

Thank you, Lord.  I surrender to you…..again.

 

Only A Moment

Only a moment ago, I was a young bride of 20 with my dream of being a wife, mom, and homemaker laying at my feet.  It was the start of my journey into life as an adult.

Only a moment ago, I was carpooling, making a family dinner every evening and hiding Christmas presents that would be from Santa. Those were such sweet days. There was a security in the rhythm, knowing exactly what I was supposed to do and be. I’ve been longing for that rhythm ever since, but it belongs to the past.

Only a moment ago, I became a career woman, finding out that I really did have what it takes to “make it in the world.”  Yet having a divided heart, it wasn’t really me. And so the internal conflict surfaced: “Who am I?” and “Why am I not following my own heart?”

Only a moment ago, my children went to college and struggled to be independent. Then one married and a granddaughter was born, and my heart became vulnerable to this new one to love.

Only a moment ago, I was widowed suddenly and tragically. And then every plan, every preconceived idea of what my life should look like, was thrown overboard. And I searched and I searched, held closely in the arms of Jesus, to find my equilibrium.

Only a moment ago, five years actually, God brought me love again. And then He quickly brought an additional four, soon to be five, grandchildren. And my heart became even more vulnerable as I was blessed with so many more to love but wondering, “How do I do this well?”

And now at this moment, in just a month, I will be sixty years old. How is this possible, Lord? Inside I feel so young. And I’m still searching, asking the question, “Who am I, really?” and “What am I supposed to do?” Life is literally rushing by. I want to get this right.

As I pondered these thoughts today on a morning walk, I felt the Lord very close. With my headphones on listening to worship music, taking in the blue, cloudless sky and feeling the slight breeze stirring, I knew. It has and always will come down to God and me. He is the one who formed me in my mother’s womb. He will be the one who closes my eyes in death and carries me into eternity.

So I will keep asking Him these questions until my heart is satisfied. Doesn’t He invite us in His word to ask, seek, and knock? I know I will never find myself apart from Jesus. And I feel peace…..if for only a moment.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened.  Matthew 7:7-8

 

Simplicity

I haven’t been writing regular posts in a while.  I’ve been praying about whether to renew my Little Potted Plant account, whether I really had anything to say that anyone would want to read.  But I think that’s part of the process I’m in with the Lord right now.  I’m still in transition from moving away from my family and, in some sense, have been going through a grieving process as the reality of it has settled in over the past few months.  

When I first began this blog almost two years ago after my sweet mother’s death, I said I wanted to “just be real.”  My purpose was to discover who God created me to be.  And I think I started to make my posts a little “preachy,” as though I needed to teach a point with each post instead of just sharing my heart.

So now I want to try again.  I just want to share, hoping that somehow what I write will touch someone else who needs to know they are not alone in how they feel.  And as always, I want to invite others to find the answers in our very faithful God.  So here goes! Thank you for being here with me.

 

March 24, 2015

I went for a walk after dinner with Mark and Chloe, our little bichon frise.  There was a cool breeze, the grass was green, birds were singing–spring at last, and with it the sheer joy of being alive with all of my senses heightened. Thank you, Jesus!  But if that wasn’t enough, we came home to a magnificent sunset visible out our back windows.  Contentment.

There was a time I was focused on making my home beautiful–nothing wrong with that. It’s part of being a woman, and it’s important.  But now my eyes are being opened to see God’s beauty.  While once the paint colors on my walls were a primary focus until I got them just right, now the colors of the sunset are what capture my attention.

A few short years ago, I became fascinated with the subject of simplicity.  I read books, did a group Bible study from a book entitled “Abundant Simplicity,” and started following a couple of Christian blogs on minimalism.  I never knew back then that I would be whisked away from Arkansas to Texas, from a roughly 2000-foot, well-appointed home to a little duplex with carpet and white linoleum that is reminiscent of my earlier homes “back in the day.”

But the Lord knew.  And more personally, the Lord knows me.  Yes, his plan was to move us to Texas to establish our ministry.  But he also cares about the personal details.  He knows what my heart needs, and he is so generous.  He knew I would be captivated by shade trees and sunsets and a park right beside us to walk and time to think and to just…..breathe.  It is a place where distractions are few, and my eyes can gaze on what I need most.  And what I need most is Jesus.

Sometimes the Lord’s plan seems so painful, like moving me away from five, almost six now, grandbabies.  But that’s where trust comes in.  He created me for himself, just as he created you.  And I know that whatever that looks like, it will be the best, for he promises to work all things for good.  I can’t see all the changes that are surely happening inside of me as he draws me closer, but I know that he is doing something in me that needed to be done in this place.  I know the process is not over, nor will it ever be completed on this earth.  But I am a little closer.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving me the grace to say yes and the courage to follow you.  Thank you that you have a plan for our children and grandchildren as well, a plan that is unique to each of them.  I pray for them and for all who may read this post, that they will know you and understand that you are concerned about every detail of their lives.  I pray that we will continually say yes to you, so that we will truly live.  Amen.