Saturday, December 9, 2017

Behold!






Behold!

How I love that word! 

It always makes me think of Christmas and angels!

Who doesn't like Christmas?

Or angels?
Especially when they are delivering glad tidings of great joy!

It is a word that shows up a lot in the Bible.

Possibly because whatever is happening is so far out of the ordinary, 
so unexpected,
that God  has to direct our attention to it

 or we might just miss it altogether!

(...cue angels)

Luke tells us about the old priest who can't speak about the miracle baby that his wife will carry.
Until she gives birth to a son, and he names him John.

...Mary, just a young girl, a virgin who is given the message that she will be
 the mother of the Messiah!

Shepherds are told that the Savior, the Messiah, has been born...
and by the way...
He can be found lying in a manger...
a King wrapped in poverty and swaddling cloths.

Simeon... an old man waiting with a great purpose.
To see God's Deliverance.
Simeon who would embrace the baby Who had embraced him all along.

Each time, the word "Behold" makes an appearance.

Each person, going about the day like always.
No idea that what was about to happen to them would shake the world.

Behold!
This world that they knew was about to change in a huge way!

Sometimes though, like Job, we may discover that God often speaks in a still small voice.

There are no angels to speak "behold"

Just something that stops you in your steps
and demands your whole attention.

Beth Moore calls them God STOPS...
Savoring The Observable Presence.

Beholding the God who is invisible... 
seeing Him move in your life in a very visible way.

Consider the stars...
There is so much out there to take your breath away.
At least for a moment.

Christmas brings a special assortment of behold moments.

Like the decorations on a Christmas tree.

The twinkle in the eyes of children as they portray an angel or a shepherd in the nativity

old memories made new all over again... in traditions.

shiny wrapping paper.

Tinsel that glitters away with the slightest breeze.

The wonder that comes with the first snow falling.

So many lights!

Lights and Christmas belong together.

Lights are part of a favorite memory of mine when I was a child, 
One that we passed on to our children.
Now our grandchildren!
Those special night drives to see the lights.

One neighborhood display is very close to where we live.
Close enough to walk.
Which is a good thing, because some nights there are so many visitors 
that the traffic slows to a crawl!

If you were to find yourself in that traffic crawl, 
the best way to drive through this area is with an open sunroof,
and be sure to turn on the Christmas music..

It all feels magical.

It seems like worries are miles away
and they are.  
For a short drive anyway.

The people who live in this neighborhood 
offer those of us who drive through it at Christmas a great gift.

Like many of us, they have had a tough couple of years.

Just a few months ago, there were quite a number of houses there that had tarps on their roofs.
(there still are)
They could have decided they had enough to worry about with all the clean up from the storms.

But just before Thanksgiving, I noticed the homeowners  were already busy at work...
 hanging up lights.

Dealing with the damage that a major storm can bring...
does not mean the celebrations stop.

The lights will shine...

Because in this hard place
these dark days?

We all need the light.
We need it to shine in the darkness
We need it to burst through the shadows.
and we really need it to
Deliver the dawn.

Jesus tells us that He is the Light of the World.
In John 1 it says,
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, 
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
All things were created through Him,
and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.
In Him was life,
and that life was the light of men.

That light shines in the darkness
and yet the darkness did not overcome it.


Behold...
this baby!

Laid in a manger

Defeating darkness; delivering Dawn

Don't miss it...

Don't miss Him.

********************

Sometimes songs have a way of getting our attention.
This song did that one Christmas for me.

At an especially hard time.  A time of loss and uncertainty, I heard this sung.
A reminder that there is a light in every dark place.
 His name is Jesus.



********************
I remember one thing about the first Christmas I had as a Christian.

The message in Christmas carols.
Things that had somehow slipped right by me when I was younger.
But with a changed heart, 
I now saw these songs of the Christ child in a new way.
with new eyes.

*
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled
*
Let earth receive her King
*
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing
*
Silent night, holy night!
Son of God. Love's pure light.
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
with the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus Lord at the birth
*
Shepherds in the fields abiding
watching over your flocks by night
God with man is now residing...

Yonder shines the infant Light!!

*********************


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Hark!


Hark!


 


My dad used to say that no one listens anymore.

It may have been the way he said it that got my attention.  

Wistfully.

As though a real gift was slipping past us.

Now that I'm a little older and wiser, I think I understand.


Right now, for instance, I hear people talking, television shows, music...

But I have to stop and pay attention to the sounds to be able to name them.  

Otherwise, they blend into the background 
as if they were one sound while I focus my attention other places.

Background noise.

What am I missing when I don't listen?


I have a lace bobbin that is painted with an inscription that says, 
"the first duty of love is to listen".

It is often a matter of choice, and too often I have made the wrong choice.

I'm trying.

There are still many times I could use a hark.
Something to grab my attention and help me focus on what I need to.

The word means stop what you are doing...and listen!

Stop where you are and put the value of your time on this thing instead!!

Because listening is closely linked to the value we place on a thing or person.  

 The opposite of Hark is ignore or tune out.  
Which is what happens if you don't hark.

So if I'm listening to this...
What does that mean I am tuning out?

Hark...

It is only to be expected that such a word shows up during Christmas celebrations.

A time that is full of busy.  

By the way...
What do you think an angel's voice sounds like?

I imagine if an angel spoke to you, you would have no problem listening!

And herald angels showing up on a midnight clear...
In a field where shepherds watched their flocks by night...
All seated on the ground?

That's  such a beautiful way to get somebody's attention!

When they appear like that... do their wings make noise?

There are so many sounds we associate with Christmas.

Sounds that bring joy to our heart just thinking of them.  

A newborn baby cries
His mother and father speak
Sounds of typical stable life
And a tired donkey 

Airport speakers announce the flight you are waiting for has arrived.
Joyful chatter as family gathers.
Clicking timers when the lights come on.
Carolers and children's choirs. 
Sleigh Bells and Jingle Bells,
and of course, Salvation Army bells!
Hark how the bells!

Our first Christmas in England was a White Christmas.

It was what I'd hoped for!
But there were a lot of things that made me feel more lonely than I expected.  

Little details that wore on me. 
Big details that left me with not so little worries. 

And to top it off, we were not getting a tree.

I tried other things, like drawing a tree on paper and hanging it on the wall, 
but truth be told, it just wasn't the same.  
So I took it down.

Yet celebrating Christmas still happened.
We still celebrated well.  
Still loved on people.  
Still did as many traditional things as we could.

...and it's one of my favorite Christmases of all time.

At some point early that morning, I opened our front door,
and was greeted with a very special kind of hark.

It was loud and clear and full of joy!  
I still remember how it lifted my spirits... 
and I stood there at the door for the longest time, just listening.

Someone,
 in an ancient old house of worship somewhere
was ringing the church bells!

Longfellow was at his best when he wrote, 
"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep; "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep..."

Bells ringing a message that could not be ignored or over looked!
A message that can't be quenched or erased!

Rejoice!  Good News!  Glad Tidings!
  
Christ has come!!

Hope! Joy! Peace!

Whatever you may be facing, don't let the hard steal your attention right now...


Hark the herald angels sing... Glory to the newborn king!!

Hear ye!  Hear ye!

God in a manger.  

Don't miss this.

******

We have a God who is moved by His love for us...

And He IS listening.
______________________________

The Coventry Cathedral Bells

This building was built in the 14th Century.
That's the same time that the word "hark" first was used!

The cathedral was bombed in WWII, but the bells still ring out!




______________________________

Casting Crowns 
singing
"I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day"




Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Thoughts on Winter



I read an article recently about a generation overlap that includes my children.

The author introduced a new name for these young adults as they grew up during two completely different ways of life.  The analog days and the digital days of Millennials and Generation X.  

Those born between 1977 and 1983 are  familiar with them both since they lived in both.

I thought about them when I started writing this morning.  My children not only grew up in different technical times, but also on different continents.  Their early childhood spent in England, and then coming back home to the South, and Florida for the next period of their growing up years.

Florida.  Sunshine State.  Even in winter.
England... 
where the gray skies are reflected in the gray uniforms of the palace guards in winter.

The place that prompted CS Lewis to pen,
"Narnia was always winter...".

Winter in England was a shock for us at first. 
But we learned to cope.




For instance, the minute you come in from the cold, the most important thing to do is find the source of heat and stand as close to it as you can!  

Actually, the MOST important thing may be to put the kettle on.  
Then while you wait for it to heat up, stand somewhere very warm.  

Our house there had a radiator heating system and there were these ugly pipes that ran up and down the walls to deliver the hot water from the boiler to the radiators.  Big white metal things that took up part of a wall in each room in the house.

They were so ugly to me when we moved in...
in June.

But within a few months we all agreed,
the radiator was our favorite place to hang out in the winter! 

We learned to tape up windows with big sheets of thick plastic.  
It still bulged no matter how tight we sealed it, 
so we always dressed inside in much the same way we dress for outside in Florida.
Boots, socks, sweaters, thermal undies and lots of thick comfy blankets!

With some knowledge and experience under our belts we finally got to the point where we did not dread the approach of winter because we had learned how to deal with the cold.



But how do you deal with the gray? 

I really missed seeing the sun. 

But Winter in England gave us much to enjoy as well.

Gentle snow fall created a magical place and always brought a sense of awe to  it watch it happen.
Building a perfect snowman. 

Christmas in England!
Chestnuts roasting on open fires.  
Mince pies and other unique holiday sweets.  

But most memorable, the joy of cozying up to a warm radiator or snuggling up with a warm cup of hot tea with socks on and under a warm comfy blanket....

I remember taking a picture of my favorite landmarks in London,
 Big Ben.

Because it was during winter, there were no leaves on the branches that would have blocked this particular view, and I was able to take the picture that became my favorite.




It helped me remember to look for all of the good things that you will miss when winter comes to a close, and to enjoy them while you have them.

Because winter does come to an end.  

 Just about the point that you think you cannot handle another day of winter, there it would be.

A green shoot poking up through days old crunchy hard snow.  Spring was on its way.

And I would fall in love with England all over again.

Spurgeon wrote, 
"while it's easy to think of all that is missed when the winter comes, it (winter) is still a gift".   

Psalm 74:17 says "Thou has made summer and winter".  

There is that. 

Sometimes God gives his gifts to us wrapped in the chill of winter.  

They are still gifts.

Spurgeon  also described another winter.  
"Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season, and if it is on you just now, it will be very painful to you. But there is this comfort; namely, the Lord makes it."

Five years ago, we entered into a similar winter.  It started with a phone call.

"Debbie, I've had an accident"

It could have ended differently.

But in the early hours just past midnight, we left the trauma ward and I was able to bring my sweetheart home.

To sleep in his own house. 

I do not ever plan to take that for granted.  We know too many who did not have that.

And I do not hesitate to call what happened to him that night a miracle. 

Everyone who talked to me at the hospital emphasized what an impact his body had taken, colliding on the interstate with an immovable object like he did. His vehicle was destroyed and yet with a broken arm and clavicle,  he undid his own seatbelt and walked away.

The next day while we went over everything and wondered  how we would cope with our new situation, it dawned on me that somehow he still had all of his limbs, and I think that was when I became aware of how God really wrapped me up close to Him 
and gave me His peace. 

So many "what if" questions came to mind, 
and it soon became obvious that if God had wanted to, 
He could have prevented the whole thing, so this had to be from Him.  

But He also could have allowed things to happen that would have made it much worse, so His care for us IN this was very real.

Going through all of that together, we became more and more aware of how each circumstance that night fit together and were reminded that God is always at work in our lives.

But these were still hard days.

We made it through each day by leaning on God, on family and friends.
And we leaned hard!  

We are both so thankful for each encouragement that came our way, and for the care that was shown to us during this time.

Because I had kept a gratitude journal, 
making a point to look for God's involvement in our lives was a habit by that time. 

This habit became not just something that I enjoyed, but something necessary to keep our eyes on Him when it would have been easy to focus on our circumstances.

My gratitude journals were kind of like that big comfy chair and fluffy blanket.  

The other thing we leaned on was His promises.  
We depended on Him at that time like we didn't need to before.  
And His Word became dearer than we ever thought it could.  
We drew near to Him.  He drew near to us.  
That relationship I would not trade anything for!

One of my sisters shared a sticker in a message recently of Sully, from Monsters, Inc. 
wrapping Boo up in a big monster hug.  
We felt that during these days. 
Completely cared for and loved and protected.

Even in a hard winter.

And now?  

He has made summer again. 

And while winter is always just on the horizon, 
we can rejoice that God does not give us winter without including the comforts only He can give. There is joy knowing that we do not have to live like it is
 "always winter, but never Christmas".




                                       

Sunday, October 8, 2017

On Being Aware in October


My times are in Thy hand
Psalm 31:15

*******



"It's" out there.

You know it is.

It is October, and the Pink reminders are everywhere.


Still...


You don't think "it" will ever happen to you.

Honestly, you may not think about it much at all!

You know it exists... but it exists somewhere out there.

Not here.  Not in your house.  Not in your family.

Not in your body.

Until it does.

And now they call you a fighter. But you don't feel like a fighter.

And they say you are brave.  But you don't feel brave.



You just get up every morning and like everyone else, you tackle the things that are ahead of you.

Things a lot like every one else before...

But now those things may include surgery, chemo, or radiation.  It may involve losing your hair.

The days of innocent ignorance are over,

and you can't ignore it anymore.

Yep...

No one wants to think that this could happen to them.

So I am asking you to do this one thing.

Think it.



Think for a moment... how would I live today if I knew tomorrow I would be told that I had cancer or some other hard thing that could show up and change your life in big ways.


Believe me, I know that you don't want to think about this, but truth is you are not immune to hard.

So,  just in case.

Think.

And ask others.  Others who have walked this journey with grace.
You can learn a lot from some people who have gone through this.

Ask how they handled it...
the diagnosis, the fear, the way they face an unknown tomorrow.


When I was diagnosed, these were the things I wanted to know ...


I wanted to know what it looked like to walk through this ...faithfully trusting God.

And fully trusting that my God is good even if the story is not.

I wanted to know on the days that I felt harsh, how to still be kind.



I wanted information to help me deal with this new way of living in my day to day interactions with others, when the medicines affect your sleep and pain is the new normal of treatment.


I wanted to know how having this disease would impact my family; my husband, my adult children and my grandchildren.


I wanted to know how to make the most of each day.
Even knowing things like this are out there, and they do affect people we love.


Thankfully, I found people who shared their stories honestly and with vulnerability.

Some of their stories were a lot like mine,
but some of them did not end like mine.

In both cases, I learned so much from their words... their gracious discourse.

For instance...

Make a habit of memorizing scripture now so that when you are too tired or weak to get through the day, the rich promises of God that will get you through are already ingrained in your mind.

Writing down prayer requests builds your faith as you see the answers recorded. This is a habit to start before the needs are heavy...

And it is equally important to gather in your heart the songs that hold the truths that will carry you through the long nights.

If you haven't started keeping a gratitude journal, now would be a great time for that as well.
When there are dreary days, it helps keep your focus on the things that matter.

Like finding out that you are not immortal, or immune to hard stories?  That realization is gift.

Learning to live "not in control"?  Gift.

That your strength is not enough for this?  And that is ok because His is?  Great gift!

Maybe most important...
You will need to learn to view time in a different way.
Time is not guaranteed.

And walking through this story means that there is never enough time to spend a moment of it by being impatient with others...

Or unforgiving or unkind.

I wonder... is there really a time that is good for being like that?


And those big little things we take for granted?

The things we think we can always do some other time?

Time for hugs, for friends and for loved ones.

Time for walks in parks, for sunrises on the ocean and for curling up with that good book you've been putting off for another time.

For that extra good night kiss

And  listening to birds

Time for a quick text, just to tell someone you love them.

Because you see the people in your life as your true treasures, there is even enough time to make a trip to spend a day with a longtime friend who lives an ocean away.

There is time ...to be still and listen.

The best things.  The things you really want to be doing...



Now is the time.

... Think about it.


   _______________________________

How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon.
December is here before it's June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?
Dr. Seuss
                                                     _______________________________


October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.
It means that we need to join together and fight this.
Fight all cancer really... if there is a cure, we need to find it!

But it does not mean that only people with breast cancer are facing hard things this month...
or next month.

Pray for them...

_______________________________

The words of Kara Tippetts are such a gift for anyone in this story.
Her books, "The Hardest Peace" and "And it was Beautiful"
are highly recommended.
Wise counsel from a precious sister indeed.






Thursday, August 11, 2016

On Life After Treatment



I can see it in your eyes when you ask if the cancer is gone.


You are so hopeful.

I know that what you want to hear me say is that it is gone.

That it is gone forever

and that it will never ever ever come back again.


So I tell you what I know.

I tell you I am well now.

But as far as the cancer coming back?
I don't know.

Even the doctor's don't.

That is why I have to keep seeing them.  
That is why there are so many appointments these days.

All of those appointments don't help you feel like I am well.
I understand that.

But try to remember.
These doctors have done a good job of taking care of me in this.
And I know they are keeping a good eye on me now. 

 Just in case.

But for now, let's not dwell on the "just in case".

There aren't enough moments in our lives to waste a single one of them that way.

We can leave that up to the doctors to think about.

We need to think about getting back to living life like we used to.

Before everything changed.

Things are different since the cancer.

And sometimes we just really miss the way things used to be.

I understand that and it makes me sad too.

I get tired a lot faster.
My feet feel weird and my brain doesn't work so well.
There are some who say this brain of mine always has been a little odd..even before chemo!
 :)
(Remember where we found my phone that time? In the fridge?)


I wish it wasn't like that.
I wish life could be exactly as it was before all of the hard things happened.

But life doesn't always stay the same for anybody.

And the fact is that our life is different and will probably never be the way we remember it again.

But guess what.

I can still be happy because it is still life.
And I am so thrilled to be living it with you.


There are too many courageous women I know of who aren't here 
even though they did the very same things I did ...
for the very same reasons!

 They did them in order to be able to be here.

No one can say why it didn't work for them.

It makes it more important to me now.
To get this right..

I may not be able to do things like I did before cancer, 
but there are so many things that I can do!

The main thing for me is that I can still enjoy you.

I can watch with amazement as I see the person you are becoming.
And be so thankful to see you trusting God in your life.

I can always love you

I can have long chats with you and I can sit with you and read to you.
I can even listen with amazement while you read to me.
I can laugh with you.
And be sad with you.

I love seeing your excitement at watching lizards race and finding rainbows on the hallway floor!

And what could possibly take the place of sharing your excitement over a lost tooth!

I simply adore the twinkle in your eyes and dimples on your cheeks.
And those freckles sprinkled across your nose?  

Awesome!

My heart gets happy to hear you explain everything that I need to know
about Doctor Who and Pokemon.

I love that I get to watch you put that really tough Lego set together 
and celebrate with you when it is complete..
You make me so proud to be able to marvel at your creativity.

And cheer for you in your soccer games.

I love that I can still be your biggest admirer 
(though there are others who insist that role belongs to them).

I am delighted that I can answer your silly texts in the middle of the night.
While my eyelids fight to close again.
Even when you say I'm a corndog. 

( I can imagine you at the other end giggling away. )

Never doubt that I consider it an honor to be able to pray for you.
And that I do pray for you.

  Even though this life is not happening the way we would have chosen...it is life.

And I am thankful for every moment!

Every wonderful moment of this amazing grace filled life that I get to live with you.

Looking forward to more of the moments.  Years full of them!

Ready to enjoy life no matter what is ahead.  

Because this life is a gift.
















..

Thursday, July 21, 2016

On Beauty Made



It is covered with a cloth to keep dust from collecting on the threads.
But when I remove the cloth, I always have the sense that I have just uncovered something special.
From the glistening pins, to the delicate lace threads and on down to the bobbins, it is almost magical.
Something to behold, to wake up my senses.






Every time I uncover my lace pillow, I have to just stop a moment and admire it.

Every single time.

And I know that when someone else is watching, the reaction will be the same.

Bobbin lace is the fairy tale of the needle arts.

I have talked about bobbin lace and lace bobbins before.
How bobbin makers in England decorated their bobbins in ways no others did.
They made what most would consider a common tool into a work of art.

Each lace bobbin unique.



Some were inscribed with names and dates, some inspired by English architecture and some with romantic phrases.  They were adorned with beads and tinsel. And you know that each one was a treasured possession of the lacemaker.

A lacemaker's pillow could contain her whole life's history represented by the bobbins there.

A lace pillow filled with bobbins can nearly take your breath away..

But a lacemaker is not content to admire the beauty of the lace pillow.
She uses the bobbins and the thread and pins to make more.
More beauty.

She makes lace.

She uses beautiful things to make beautiful things.

Because we all can appreciate beauty.

And because we like beauty, 
we take the time and put forth the effort to make beauty in our surroundings.



We make these little displays of beauty.
A vase gets placed here, a picture there.
We decorate the place we live. The place we call home.
Creating art out of ordinary.

Oh, we may say we aren't creative, but it's just not true!

We actually create in lots of different ways.



Arranging things on a desk, or combining new ingredients into a delicious meal.
Singing a lullabye to hush an anxious child.

We all have inside of us a pull to create, to make beauty.

I think this pull to create goes back to our own Creator.

In the beginning God MADE...
And it was good.


He made it all.
And He made it all to delight us.
From small so small we can't see it with our eyes,
to large so large it's hard to imagine.

And it's important to realize this one thing.

The Creator is the one who defines beauty in His making.
And it is for one reason.

So that we will look for the Creator.

And we will find Him.

Because of His great love for us.


And it makes me wonder.

Since we are made in His image, could the purpose behind our urge to create be this as well?
To extend our love to others?

We plant flowers, write stories, fluff pillows. and surround ourselves with music.
And in our creating we are showing our love to others.

And in showing our love, do we help them to see His?

When we make beauty, are we also showing a glimpse of His love?

*******************************

Beauty
How do you define it?

How do you respond to it?
Wonder?  Awe?  Praise?



Who do you acknowledge when you see it?

I recently watched a video of color blind people seeing color for the first time.
The expressions of awe on their faces can't be imitated.

There is a word for it.
It's "wonder".

We experience it when we receive a gift from someone who loves perfectly.
In the myriad hues of a flower picked by a child,
the far reaching beams of light in sunrise as it reaches out across the horizon,
the swaying branches of a delicate willow moved to dance by the gentlest of breezes
and
the awe we see as a child hears their mother's voice the first time

WONDER

Things we feel when we see a "soldier comes home" surprise,
or of kittens seeing their reflections

When a child gets tickets to Disney or news of an upcoming sibling.

When we are shown how a young man in love offers an invitation to someone to join him in life...
and the tenderness of it moves us to tears.

Wonder.

Beauty brings that kind of response.



i hope i never lose my own sense of awe
of wonder
at the love of the Father
in the gift of His Son
or the grace revealed in each moment by His Spirit.

I want to enjoy every moment of His grace.
I hope I will get to the point when I stop ever taking them for granted.

I don't want to miss a beat...
A child's voice in song...
The smell of salt water in the air...
The kindness of a stranger...
Crickets in harmony...
Morning joys...
Bird song...
Coffee's aroma...
Traffic noise...

the way a car stirs up dust on a dirt road.

The way freckles scatter across his nose.

Wonder at His creation, and His love for me.

His love for each and every one of us.

Join me?

___________________

We can make our surroundings more beautiful in so many ways...



Decorating our environment with kindness.  
Filling the space where we live with the sounds of gentle discourse and of beautiful music.

With inviting smells of coffee brewing or something yummy in the oven.

By making the place we call home more comfy and inviting.

We miss the point if all we do is create beauty for our own enjoyment.

By reflecting our own Maker in the things we do.
Showing all those He loves that they are worthy of our love as well.

And sometimes by placing a vase in just the right place.

How do you make beauty?


Psalm 27:4
I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord, and seeking Him in His temple.






Tuesday, May 24, 2016

On Looking Back



Hindsight is 20/20, it has been said...
often after someone has admitted a huge mistake.

It is a lot easier to see where you went wrong after the fact.

Looking back can also help you see some good things.

Some things that are seen more clearly when you look at them backwards.



The different view may also provide a new understanding.

We see things that we missed when we were walking through the situation.

We may even see where we missed God's involvement in our life at the time.

Like fingerprints on a wall give us a clue that a certain toddler was there.


God does not sit idly by while we struggle here.

He is involved in the details of our lives and if we look for Him, we can see Him;
present and active in our lives.

Looking back helps us to see how God has moved in our lives.

But when things are hard?
It is often easier to see only the hard when we look ahead.

Things tempt us to face the unknown days in fear instead of faith.

We stand in our hard, and can't imagine that it won't always be this way. 

Or we find it hard to believe that He cares enough to be involved in our little struggles
when there is so much pain in this world.

But then...
Then from the past, a perfect scripture verse that reminds us how very much He does care.
Or the song that meant so much to us in days past.
And encourages even more in this day.

And we see firsthand that His Grace is sufficient.

It's almost as if a light came on, and we just know...
He was there with us.
He loves us.
He cares.

But IN the hard, it can be almost impossible to see that there will be good.

I found a post in my gratitude journal dated October 2011.

It simply said, "I never imagined things could be so sweet."

I wonder why not?

What was lacking in my imagination that could keep me from imagining things could be sweeter?

I wrote that in 2011 at the start of my gratitude journal.
This place where I record those fingerprints of God's presence in my life.

There have been small things and there have been big,
but keeping this list into my sixth year now,
what I notice most is that they are constant.

They point always to the love of a good God.
To His grace that is unending and undeserved.

Now, here I was in 2015 having learned some things since 2011.

We had no idea when I wrote those words in 2011
that we would face the things we faced in the next few years.

So in 2015, I wrote:
"How time has shown me that all our imaginings fall so short!  
I have now seen what "sweet" really looks like! 
After accidents, diagnoses, surgeries and treatments.  
After casts and slings and bald heads. 
How could I in those days even begin to know the sweet I know now?"

And you know what?

I imagine that I haven't seen anything yet.

My imagination is growing to be a better informed imagination;
able to anticipate His grace in my hard instead of feeling dread.

Reminding myself just who it is that is walking with me, and continuing to trust Him.
Taking each day ... each step ... one at a time.

Just a result of expecting Him to show up.
Looking for Him

And one day as we live day to day expecting Him to work in our lives,
we will see it.

The result will be something marvelous. 

Most likely, something you never imagined.

************

A Gratitude Journal...
Kind of like a bound version of an Ebenezer Stone.
"Hitherto hath the Lord helped us" 

************
My 100
A list of 100 things I wrote at one time... right in the middle of 2011 and 2015

1) You being my Savior
2) Forgiveness
3) Amazing Sunrises spent at the Ocean
4) Sweet Sunrises spent in my recliner at my living room window (with a grandchild)
5) White African Irises blooming out like crazy
6) Tulip Memories
7) Azaleas Stunning Pink
8) English Blue Moon Roses
9) Blonde Waves on a Little Girl's Head
10) The Twinkle in a Little Boy's Eyes
11) Dimples
12) Moonlight on a Cloudy Evening
13) Glittering Stars on a Clear Night
14) Foamy Tops on Crashing Waves
15) Toes in the Sand
16) Little Fishes at the Edge of the Water
17) Dolphins in the Waterway
18) Cardinals in the Florida Bush
19) Ducks in the Backyard
20) Canadian Geese by the Pond
21) Light Reflecting off a Brass Trombone
22) Creative Clutter
23) Water Views in Front & Back
24) My Sweetheart's Smile
25) Your Mercy
26) E ...
27) I...
28) C...
29)H...
30) A Friendly Voice on the Phone
31) The Play Chat of Grands
32) My Sweetheart's Voice
33) Music that Calms on Stressful Days
34) Praise Music
35) The Sound of Instruments Tuning Up & Anticipation
36) The Soothing Sound of a Flute
37) The Majestic Sound of a French Horn
38) Mathematics in Music
39) Thunder Crashing
40) Loud Crashing Ocean Waves
41) A Newborn's Cooing
42) Laughter
43) A Friend Who Gets You
44) Mellow Sax Music
45) The Hum of a Car Engine that Works
46) Musical Bird Chatter int he Morning
47) An Acoustic Guitar
48) Hymns - Deep Truths in Music
49) The Sound of Someone Praying for Me
50) The Words "I Love You"
51) Your Nearness
52) Your Goodness
53) The Way You Make Beauty out of Broken
54) Your Strength
55) The Smooth Taste of Caramel
56) Fresh Fruit
57) Ice Cream with the Grands
58) A Vegetable Tray that includes Celery
59) Anti-Nausea Meds given with Chemo
60) Psalms
61) Chocolate Cake Celebrations
62) Birthdays
63) Your Promises - Always Kept
64) The Sound of Singing Kids
65) H's future
66) The Hum of a Working Computer
67) Faxes Incoming and Outgoing
68) Email & Texts
69) Chocolate
70) An Early Cup of Coffee Kind of Morning
71) Bacon Cooking Smells
72) The Smell of my Favorite Lotion
73) Fresh Cut Watermelon
74) Chap Stick
75) Ice Cold Tea :)
76) Fuzzy Slippers
77) A Purring Kitten
78) Heaven One Day
79) Kara Tippetts and her Book, The Hardest Peace
80) Grands Hugs
81) Ann Voskamp and her Book, One Thousand Gifts
82) Mentor Women in my Life
83) Our Family
84) A Dry Comfy Place to Live
85) The Soft Fur of a Baby Bunny
86) My Big Wooly Blanket
87) A Warm Shower or Bath
88) Waves Wrapping Around my Feet and Ankles
89) Sitting on my Back Steps at Sundown
90) My Old Mimosa Tree's "Wings"
91) Cozying Up by a Fireplace in Winter
92) Building Snowmen
93) My Jesse Tree Devotions at Christmas
94) Being Able to Homeschool
95) Losing Control and Loving the Freedom
96) Your Magnificence
97) Just This ... It Is Well !!!
98) Eucharisteo
99) Psalm 27:13,14 - I Will See the Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living!
100) Psalm 73:28 - The Nearness of God IS My Good!!!