A Look Back!
Thanksgiving holiday has just ended and Christmas events are already kicking into gear...but I have had a little time to think and reflect! I could have written a thousands words to you about my thankful heart and how God has continuously revealed Himself to me throughout His faithful ways throughout this past year, November to November!. Instead, I decided to take a quick look back at last year's events and the blog I wrote last November. I am re-sharing it with you because His words to me then remain as important as now!
November 2014 - ...in the midst of it all, I was rushing around, getting ready for a concert for my school kids, and while blow-drying my hair (God strikes me with interesting thoughts at the most unusual times!), I had an epiphany! It hit me so hard I had to stop what I was doing, look at myself in the mirror and say it back to myself! Mary was highly favored! Now, I wasn’t thinking about anything but the Yellow Leaf Festival and whether or not the soundman was going to be present to assist me. I had been packing up and problem solving all morning with thoughts of autumn dampness, singing, what happens if my CD doesn’t work, and how many kids could I squeeze onto a tiny stage?! The Annunciation was in NO way on my mind….so it had to come from God!
Mary’s salutation was nothing short of verifying her special standing with God and then followed with a lifelong promise, “The Lord is with thee!” Luke 1:28
As I stood gazing into the 7'X5' mirror that morning, and repeated those King James Version words that I memorized so long ago, I began to think of the many difficult situations that Mary was faced with during her life, and she was highly favored!
Mary was from Nazareth. It had little wealth, culture or learning and it wasn’t the most desirable place to live. She worked hard as a woman taking care of daily needs, working in the fields, and walking a distance with her jug to dip water from the well and bring it back home for cooking and laundry. A different kind of life than what we are used to, yet the same without modern conveniences.
Mary had some troubling questions after the angel left her with the news. What about her marriage to Joseph? Since she was bearing a child that was not his, Mary had to face the anguishing prospect of divorce and the shame it could bring down upon her in a small town that frowned on an unfaithful wife. Even though he had a high regard for her, how could she explain to Joseph the mysterious act of God and an angel no one else saw? Mary must have been a very private person for she pondered many things and keep them in her heart! That can be a lonely place.
I think about this highly favored girl riding a donkey and traveling when she was just about to give birth. Then, in a nasty ole stable, her baby boy, Jesus, was delivered…and she was highly favored? Then, when he was just toddling around, Mary and Joseph had to flee their home…quickly pack up and head out…with the fear of her child being murdered by King Herod. She also carried the weight of knowing that Jesus would be sacrificed as the Savior of the world. What kind of life Mary must have lived with so many burdens and so much to carry in her heart? Things not easily shared with even the closest of friends!
"But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19
Sometimes carrying the weight around in your heart and mind is exhausting and can leave room for conjuring up deceitful imaginations. Questions and doubt arise leaving your heart at unrest. Cling to the promises of God.
Perhaps Mary knew of the words of Isaiah:
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." Is. 26:3
When you doubt and question the mighty and precious acts of God, remember to seek the peace of God.
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
Seems to me that someone who is highly favored should be treated with the best, the easiest, the most, recognized as special, and set apart from the common! Why, isn’t that the way we treat honored and favored people?! Well, the world does! As Christians, we are called not to behave as the world does. The first will be last and the last will be first. The Christian life is sort of the upside down life…from a worldly perspective. So Mary, who really lived a difficult life, was highly favored of God. He placed upon her many burdens to quietly bear. She was considered highly favored because of her great faith in God. See how quickly she responded to the angel with “I am the handmaid of the Lord,' said Mary. 'Let what you have said be done to me.’” Is that how we respond when we are placed in difficult situations or when the Lord requires something of us that we think is impossible or perhaps we do not want to do?
After the angel greeted her with this honored greeting, his next words were, “The Lord is with you.” How cool to be comforted with knowing that God’s personal messenger has come to you with these words! Number one, I’m highly favored. Number two, The Lord is with me. Could this be her sequence of thinking? I just kinda believe that by the angel stating that ‘The Lord was with her’, it was a powerful statement that Mary would refer to throughout the remainder of her days! Surely it made an impact! Yes, the Lord had been with the people of Nazareth for many years. The Jews were God’s chosen people, and they were descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God had led them out of Egypt and through the desert. The prophets proclaimed that God would send a Messiah. Now, this message became real for her. The Lord was with her and it was personal!
The next phrase spoken to Mary from the angel was, “Do not be afraid, Mary.” Humm…highly favored, The Lord is with me, don’t be afraid. What an interesting succession! If she was favored and the Lord was with her, what reason should she have to be afraid? It wasn’t until after he told her these three things that he revealed the event that would come to pass. Just maybe, she needed to hear these words spoken to help engrave them on her heart so that when storms and hardships came her way, she would remember! And they did come her way, over and over again.
You are highly favored….The Lord is with You…Don’t you be afraid! echoed in my heart.
So here I am, standing with wet hair and I shouted out to Brian, who had just lost his job the day before, “Mary was highly favored!” I don’t really think that he thought that I was nuts, because I’m always saying something out of the blue that relates to absolutely nothing! I ponder a lot! Then I said it again! “Mary was highly favored!” Don’t you get it? We are like Mary…chosen…favored…His special possession!
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, God's special possession,
that you may declare the praises of him who called you
out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9
The Lord was with her through everything and it wasn’t always pretty. Likewise, the Lord is also with us. We need to remember to look to Him for our strength, wisdom, and understanding in every situation. Don’t be afraid. Praise and give Him thanks. It will make your heart smile and grow stronger as you deepen your faith in God.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:18 NLT
I might add that I was intrigued at God’s choice of revelation to me over that of Job and all of his struggles. I guess He just wanted to remind me that we are:
Highly Favored ~ The Lord is with us ~ and not to be afraid!
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,
according to the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)
Looking back over the past year, I see how His hand has guided my way. Looking upon the horizon, I continue to see a myriad of impossible situations, or so I think, but with the promises of God in hand and the constant reminder that we (God's chosen children) are Highly favored ~ The Lord is with us ~ be not afraid, I can press forward with a thankful and brave heart. You can do the same if you'll just trust Him with your whole heart and mind!
Bond-Servant of the Lord,
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A Holiday Feast for the Soul
Recently our pastor asked us to keep a journal of three things that we are grateful for each day for a month. This is not a new practice for me, but I’m really enjoying the process with a group of believers together. I’ve loved hearing people dialogue about how it is changing their perspective. As we ponder what we are grateful for, it sometimes surprises us to find that it is not just the big things, but often the little details of life that capture our gratitude. Developing a heart of gratitude is a habit we must cultivate. It takes being intentional. In my own life when I don’t stop and take notice of the things and people for which I’m grateful, I miss the grace moments God is pouring out to bless me. I miss the abundance. I miss the slowing down and taking in the treasures and the memories. So this Thanksgiving holiday week and in the weeks ahead, I encourage you to do the same. Take the time, reflect on events, details, people and circumstances of each day and write down at least 3 things that you are grateful for. You might even find more if you look. Sometimes it’s even harder to do during the holidays. Often we find ourselves so consumed with the busyness of the holiday feasts that our souls come up empty.
I remember when the Lord first began teaching me about what a heart of gratitude and praise looked like. It was way back in my early journey through the Word when I spent a year studying the Psalms of David. There were many things that I saw in the life of this one God called “a man after His own heart.” One thing that struck me most profoundly was his heart to praise, no matter what situation He was facing. David usually starts out a Psalm proclaiming the truths about God’s character and promises, then often honestly "reminds" the Lord about his personal struggles, (and truly there often were life threatening circumstances), but he seems to always conclude with exclamations of praise to His God! His Psalms are a model for us on where to keep our focus. David honestly pours out his heart and trouble to God, but knows that his hope is in God's power, faithfulness and sovereignty. There is only One who can deliver. Only One who deserves the praise. That year in the Psalms changed my perspective and my relationship with the Lord as I learned to trust Him with not only the easy things in my life, but also the struggles, the situations that at the time seemed impossible.
As I think back over the years, the next tool the Lord brought into my faith journey on gratitude was a little book entitled 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Meyers. It is a devotional book of praise and prayers based on Scripture designed to help you form the habit of praise and gratitude. I have given it away to countless friends and pulled it out to reread at least ten times I’m sure through the years. The practice of praise and thanksgiving changes your heart and your life because it changes what you see in each situation.
Recently, I pulled out a study book that I had done on thankfulness several years ago from my journey with 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp and began to reread through my answers. I was particularly struck by the section on looking for buried treasure. It can be easy to find treasure and a heart of gratitude when life is going smoothly. But, what about the seasons of struggle, those hard places, the conflicts, those painful times? Maybe you are in one of those now. If you are, as I was at the time I did that study, I encourage you to take some time to dig deep and find the Treasure where you think He can’t be found, If you dig you can even find treasure in those places of confusion or pain.
Consider praying, “Father, help me see the beauty of Jesus in these moments, too. Help me find the heart of gratitude and joy even when it is buried deep.” If you determine to make it a challenge like a treasure hunt, you may be surprised to find that even joy can be found in your search for God in the deep, hard places where you couldn’t see Him before.
This week try asking the questions below and write down your answers. Consider how you have discovered more of Christ in the search. The treasure may be in your own heart or in the work Jesus did in another's life through the struggle.
He is the Treasure you seek!
The hard place I dug and searched:
The treasure and gift I discovered:
Sometimes it’s hard to see a treasure in a painful situation. Ask the Father to give you His eyes to see that person, or that conflict.
As I read over some of my answers from a few years ago, some of the situations still haven’t changed. Yet, God in the process has given me His eyes to see things differently. I can even see beauty through the pain of things in the past. That’s how He carves the heart of gratitude within us. That’s how we learn the way of faith to choose to seek and see God in everything.
In my life it’s been a process, a discipline, a reminder to keep my focus on Jesus
and not my circumstances or the pain or struggles of those I love.
There may be things or people in your life where you can’t see the treasure yet. That’s ok. Simply choose to release it by faith into God’s heart and the control of His Spirit. Pray and ask Jesus to help you. Ask for restoration. Ask for joy. Ask for His eyes and His heart of love and grace. As I look back now on my list that I made, I see how He has faithfully answered my prayers.
These are some of the gifts I learned or relearned from this process of digging for treasures in the hard and ugly places of my life:
I learned more deeply how to love well.
I learned again it’s not about me!
I learned to trust, to wait, to rest in His purpose.
I learned again to let go of trying to control the situation!
I saw those I love persevere in difficult circumstances and mature in their faith.
I learned to look for His beauty in the ugly.
I learned more deeply that He is always faithful to supply my needs.
For these gifts I’m so grateful. I’m also grateful that I took the time to write them down and keep a record. As I read over my list I was honest. It wasn’t too pretty. It was actually quite messy. But now, because I wrote the hard places down, I have a record of the faith lessons I learned. I’m grateful that I learned through the Psalms and life of David so long ago that I don’t have to bring a fixed up, prettied up life to my Savior. He meets me right where I am and takes the struggles, the pain, the confusion and in His perfect timing uses them to transform my life and my heart toward joy and gratitude. He is good. He can be trusted. I'm grateful for the people in Scripture, in my life, and the authors in books who have mentored me in my journey.
So go ahead, in this season of Thanksgiving, dig for that treasure you’ve been trying to hide or simply couldn’t see through the pain. In the process you may be surprised at the beauty you unearth. You were created to be a vessel used for His glory! Now that’s something to be thankful for! And don’t forget to thank Him as you write down those little details of wonder and joy in your life along the way. Start your own gratitude list.
This holiday as you prepare the food for the Thanksgiving feast, consider how you can tend to a feast of thankfulness for your soul.
You will never regret the time you spend cultivating a habit of praise!
Think of the legacy of gratitude you’ll leave behind one day!
Father, thank you that You are interested in every detail of my life and character.
Thank you that Your heart is to use any difficulties that I face as an opportunity to see You work in my life.
Thank you that You enrich my life through each problem and situation when I let You use them
to expose my need, my sin, or my pride. Thank you that through the difficult seasons of my life
You have humbled me and perfected my faith and used those circumstances to ultimately bring me
to a place of greater abundance and a deeper understanding of the depth of Your love.
Keep my eyes and my heart focused on You. Help me to slow down,
take in the moments, the memories, the joy and the pain in a way that I conclude each day
with gratitude that You have been with me and worked in me through it all.
Help me not to miss the wonders and beauty You bless me with each day.
Give me the courage to dig deeply into the treasure of You in every situation.
Thank you for the promises, truth and treasure found in Your Word.
Keep my heart tender to the truth and to those You love.
Father, by your grace, give meYour eyes to see, Your ears to hear,
and a mouth that speaks boldly the praises of You who alone are Worthy
of all the honor, glory and praise!
In Jesus Name,
Wishing you a feast for you soul this holiday,
Resources: Images Pinterest, Study Guide 1000 Gifts, Ann Voskamp
Looking for something special this Christmas Season? Restore Ministries is offering a beautiful Christmas Arts Event for everyone December 12, 7PM at Lod Cook LSU. Come experience the body of Christ coming together for an evening of worship to our Savior as musicians from 14 different churches gather to present a beautiful weaving of Scripture, music, drama, and worship, ending with a dessert reception fellowship. You'll be ushered into the beauty of the season with a 50 voice choir, children's choir and original drama led by Ken and Kathy Drake and Brian and Sherry Barron.
Purchase your tickets on our website today!!!! $20 Adults, $10 Students. Seating is limited!
A Compromised Life
I’m sure you have experienced that feeling when you go to use your bankcard only to discover that it won’t work? The bank has terminated it’s use because it has been compromised! Quickly you scramble to solve the problem, call the bank, and spend what seems like endless hours of time on the phone getting it worked out! You get to the bottom of the problem and now, not only has your card been compromised, so has your time, plans, perhaps others views of your integrity, your energy has been spent and all focus directed in one place! And it’s not even your fault! Everything…compromised!
Well, that seems to have been the story of my life this past week. Though I’ve not had a problem with my bankcard, the emotions of an event like that have run ramped through my veins. I’m sure it is no different for you. As I have struggled with my phone, email, events, car, computer, job, and health…just to name a few, God has taught me a very important lesson this week. It’s His job to turn the “ugh” to “ahh!” But I must help in the process. I’ll tell you how in a moment!
Surely you have noticed that the world is getting a little harder to live in! (That’s the understatement of the year!) Life is spinning faster, harder, and more complicated, leaving us to sigh louder, growl under our breath, and proclaim more “Ugh’s” than “Ahh’s.” Everything seems to be compromised and I just want to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed!
I’m seeing a pattern surrounding not only my world but of those I love:
The Lord reminded me this week, that He is doing a much bigger work than what I am even aware. In our difficult, compromised situations, He is at work and often it’s not always about you! The suffering in your life could be for others to notice, to watch, to be curious, to evaluate your response. When our response or attitude is positive or holy, sometimes it encourages others to delve further and deeper into their relationship with the Lord. Other times, it is used to direct toward salvation for the lost. In all, it brings glory to the name of the Lord.
For in our response…our attitude…silent volumes are spoken!
How do we apply and display our faith?
Others are watching.
I received a sweet message from a friend whom I called to pray over the difficult situations this week. I’d like to share with you her devotional this morning from Bible Study Fellowship - Revelation as she shared it with me.
“God’s people are to interpret life circumstances through the unchanging nature of the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man. This alone offers the right perspective on this world and our personal lives. Economic or political crisis, natural disasters, family, health or personal trials all will change, but God will never change. He is the refuge and strength of His people at all times. “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”
Daniel’s personal testimony of God’s truth and power strengthens our faith as he describes the world and future. Daniel stood in the power of God against the powers of the world and of darkness. Each time God rescued him, praise for “the God of Daniel” came from the mouth of kings. The trials you face are opportunities to experience God’s love and power in new ways. Knowledge of God’s care for His people can strengthen you to face the "lions” in your life. As you face them triumphantly, your life of faith, which demonstrates the power of God, will cause others to praise the Ancient of Days.”
Recalling the many stories of Daniel with his compromised situations, and how God faithfully provided for him during his trials has been of great comfort for me. In every situation he faced, others took notice and watched how he responded. As Daniel took refuge in God, and as God supplied for his every need, praise to The Lord filled the lips of many and the name of The Almighty was lifted high!
God intervened faithfully and powerfully in my life this week as I took notice that He was doing a much bigger work! I could have quickly quenched His Spirit and destroyed a perfect opportunity to proclaim His faithfulness by blowing up, loosing my cool, and speaking bitter words. What kind of image bearer would I have been then?!
Our lives will continue to be compromised and full of “ugh!” days, but with praise to God continually on our lips and a faithful heart, those days will be transformed to “ahh!” days because He is doing a much bigger work! And… we will recognize it! His beauty will rise from the ashes. Here are a couple of anonymous quotes that remind me that God is in control.
"If you kneel before God, you can stand before anyone!"
"What is over my head is under His feet!"
Trusting His Heart & His Faithfulness,
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The week has been a roller coaster of emotions for me with celebrations and heart breaking loss. Saturday was full with a baby shower and a wedding shower. Celebrations of life! What joy to see these young women whom I have loved move into new seasons. I had such fun gathering and wrapping their presents. Then that evening there was the delight of watching my husband conduct 80 kids in a fabulous production of Mary Poppins. I put together a little bag of his favorite candy and left it on the conductor’s stand before the show with a little “lovey” note. Such fun!
On Sunday I attended a barn birthday party for a little 3 year old, the granddaughter of a dear friend. There was a petting zoo and pony rides for the children. Laughter and presents and young parents tending their young, just starting out in life. I had wrapped up a little storybook Bible with CD’s for her in roses and beautiful ribbons. All girls little and big love pretty packages!
As I left, I pulled my friend aside. We needed a moment to catch up. I sat in the drizzling rain with my friend and listened and wept as she shared more bad news about her cancer and the increased pain she was experiencing. I had put together a little “soul care” package for her in a pretty folder and wanted to give it to her before I left. It was a simple gift really, Scriptures on healing to meditate on and a copy of my last blog “Mercies in Disguise”. We talked about the power of prayer and the importance of making herself a little healing sanctuary where she can go and be surrounded by the Word, God’s presence, and soak in His peace. A place to pull away and be still and know that He is God and He is good. Sometimes it’s hard to give ourselves permission to take that time for ourselves when grand children and children are ever present and you don’t want to miss a moment with them, or the responsibilities of work and needs of others seem to press in. But, it’s important, vital, in the seasons of struggle and seasons of joy.
There, in the stillness, we find our strength, our hope.
Monday was my mom’s 87th birthday. Another day of celebration! I spent the day cooking her a special dinner and wrapping presents for her. I love to make pretty packages. The week before I had taken her shopping with me and I noticed it took us about thirty minutes to get down the gift wrapping aisle as she picked up each beautiful bag and admired the ribbons and wrapping. I realized as I watched her, so childlike in her alzheimer disease, that I had gotten that joy of gift giving from her. I remember she kept a gift closet when I was growing up and even now has a gift drawer in her assisted living apartment - just in case she wants to give someone a present! She gathered several little gifts for her drawer to purchase as she maneuvered down the aisle in her walker. I smiled as we checked out. I had picked up a few little “love” gifts for my own closet.
As I think back on my week, I realize that I am often putting together a little basket or bag or folder for people to show them that I love them or that they are in my thoughts and prayers even when it is not a special occasion.
I think the Lord has uniquely made us with ways that we express our love for one another. It’s important to make the time to express that love.
This morning I baked pumpkin bread and put together a little “care” basket for a friend whose husband went home to be with Jesus a few days ago. His sudden death, so young, was such a shock to us all. His rich bass voice graced our choir for as long as I can remember. I knew that friends would bless the family with many meals in the coming weeks. There are those of you who do that act of love and service so graciously. As I put together the basket, I I thanked God for my family and friends. I attached a single rose and a spring of rosemary from my garden (rosemary is the herb of remembrance). I pray that somehow the little basket of goodies will make this precious family feel loved and comforted as they face the difficult days ahead.
Last week, I felt the Lord impressing on me to bring a little “spa” bag to a friend who was stressed and overwhelmed. Sometimes, we need to encourage one another to make that time to rest, heal and “soak” in His presence.
I share these examples not to put any pressure on you to do the same,
but simply to encourage you to find your own way to express your love
to those who need it.
I’ve been told that we each have our own love language.
One of mine is giving. It is not an effort for me. It gives me great pleasure.
It’s one of the ways I express my love.
What are some of the ways you enjoy showing love to others?
It might be a hug, an encouraging word or a hand written note,
an act of service or the gift of time.
For your family and friends,
it’s important to ask them what makes them feel loved.
It may be a thoughtful “lovey” gift or they may feel more loved by words of blessing or spending time together.
Take some time to think about how the Lord might have you express love or care or concern to someone in need this week. How can you bring a blessing or encourage a weary soul?
You could be His messenger of hope!
I’ve received many “care” gifts myself. You probably have too. Think about the ones that blessed you the most. They come in all shapes and sizes.
An anonymous gift left at the door. A word of blessing.
An encouraging phone call, text, or facebook private message.
A handwritten note - so rare and thoughtful in our day.
A hug...... A smile....... A little bouquet of flowers.......
A beautifully wrapped package that says, “You’re important,
Or perhaps the Lord might impress on you to show a “random act of kindness” to a stranger.
And like so many things in life,
it’s the giver who always gets the greatest blessing.
Resources: images Pinterest
Looking for something special this Christmas Season? Come experience the body of Christ coming together for an evening of worship to our Savior as musicians from 14 different churches gather to present a beautiful weaving of Scripture, music, drama, and worship, ending with a dessert reception fellowship. Please join us as a 50 voice choir led by Ken and Kathy Drake sing glorious praises to the Savior in our Restore Christmas Event for everyone. During this Christmas season, we desire to encourage believers and seekers to experience the depth of God’s Word, His saving grace, and His gift of eternal light through this intertwining of: special music including violinists, cellist, soloists, small ensemble, children's voices, the Restoration Singers and an original drama created by Sherry & Brian Barron.
Purchase your tickets on our website today!!!! Seating is limited!
Tight grip on the steering wheel. Watchful eye while maneuvering in and out and around. Elevated blood pressure. Furled brow. Coffee in the cup holder sloshing around due to the severely bumpy road.
Do you ever notice who is driving in the fast lane?
It’s the slow people!
“Why are you driving in the fast lane going slower than the people in the slow lane?” I shout at the car in front of me. Does this guy really think he’s helping traffic? I whiz around him and press the accelerator. Rushing off. Knowing I’m late! Imagining the 50 sweet faces awaiting my arrival to sing joyful songs of Christmas celebration. What a way to start a Monday morning! I'm ashamed to say... that's how it began.
As I’m frantically driving to work, I exit the interstate. Just 25 more minutes and I’ll be there! I might make it before the bell rings. I am a music teacher! I have a gazillion things to do this morning and all day long! Time is very limited. Those six-year-old faces flash before my minds eye. What are they seeing? I ask myself. I recall the emotions that I feel when someone else enters a room who is frazzled and in a mad dash. It’s not pleasant! I am convicted. The soft voice of the Holy Spirit speaks gently in my ear…Breathe! … Slow down… Relax!... I’ve got this! You are my image bearer. OUCH!
I make it to school before the bell rings.
Traveling through the halls later that day, I found myself walking faster than anyone else! Maneuvering in and out and around, my pace is accelerated. Do you ever notice how the slowest people walk in the middle of the hall, taking up all of the space?! ugh!
Furled brow, swinging arms, intense focus. I am in production mode! Places to go, things to do, crunched for time. I am literally on a very tight schedule and fear that I will never get it all done. Every 30 minutes is a replay but with added dynamics and personalities! I am constantly adjusting and solving problems. Memories of the early-morning haunt me. Yet that gentle whisper reminds me once again… Breathe…slow down…relax… I’ve got this! You are my image bearer.
Tuesday brings it’s own set of issues. But they are much like the day before. Rushing! Solving problems! Putting out fires. Scheduling more for tomorrow’s already heaped up platter! Once again a different set of 50 young faces observe my countenance. I remind myself to breathe, slow down, and relax. He’s got this! I am his image bearer. I hide behind a smile and try to set aside today’s frustrations as I am bombarded with more questions and issues to solve. "Does everyday have to be this complicated?" I wonder. My mind and body is full and weary as I remember that I have an appointment and am now late and it’s after work rush hour! I make the “ I’m running a little late” phone call and then relieved that my appointment is rescheduled. But that means more for tomorrows plate.
Once home, I received a phone call from a dear friend. I can almost see her questioning face as she tries to make sense of my side of the conversation. As I ramble on, the inflection of my voice indicates I’m wiped out, pressed for time and my brain is not functioning properly! I am now frustrated that I have not been the best image bearer and my self-worth begins to spiral downward. (Satan always attacks us at our weakest moments...well, he does me!)
Wednesday now begins with another mad dash! Deadlines for correspondence are in full pursuit. Did I mention my house was a wreck and very disorganized?! I called to check on an event that I realize should happen tomorrow and should be apart of, only to discover that it was last week. Does any of this sounds like your story? I know it does, because I missed an accidental phone call (butt dial) from another friend. When I returned the call, she was just as frazzLed and crunched for time as I have been and we shared our frustrations. We both agreed it was time for Jesus to come back, and we would catch up with one another after our craziness ends! Her words to me…God will redeem the time!
I found this very interesting as I had just received a text from my first friend, checking to see how I was today. Her words were… Breathe, rest your body and mind soon. God will redeem the time!
I smiled and thought, “How like God, to remind me once again, what He has been saying the past two days!” Plus He added twice today that He would redeem the time. My thoughts shifted toward Him, my great Redeemer! In the past when I have thought of him as the Redeemer, I equated that with my salvation. And though that is true, he is also in the business of redeeming many other things. Not only does he redeem, He gives much more than we could expect or dream. Good measure, pressed down, and overflowing! Oh how loving and tender are His mercies toward me… and you!
I apologize that I had to drag you through the mud telling you all about my first three days of the week! It exhausts me again as I am re-reading and re-living those moments! I am but a sinful soul, confessing my heart before you. God continues to teach me more about His character (and about myself) as I muddle my way through every page of my life!
My mind flashes back to the Bible story that I learned as a small child, the two fish and five loaves for the feeding of the 5,000. The lesson I have learned through that story, back then, was that God provides. Today, as I look at the backstory, I’m sure that Andrew and the other disciples were feeling the pressures of the day and saw the compassion on Jesus’ face, knowing the that multitudes were in need of spiritual and physical nourishment. They tried to take on the responsibility of thousands. It was the end of the day, people were probably tired and hungry, as the disciples tried to figure out how to feed them all… and how to hurry and do it! I am sure that all of the how, why, what, when, where, questions raced through their mind as they were up against time, for it was growing late. They took their problems to Jesus and he provided. Good measure, pressed down, and overflowing! More than what was required. You know the story. Baskets of leftovers! There’s another account in the Scriptures, when Jesus fed the 4,000. The story is nearly the same. More than enough was provided.
There are two new things that I have noticed, as per this crazy week, as I have recalled these true and real life stories. Jesus had compassion and commanded them to sit down!
I still have much work to do and a full weekend. But as I sit on my front porch this Friday morning writing this blog, I am relaxed, slowed down, remembering to breathe, and sitting down! I am blessed with his thoughts and actions toward me. I recall a song that I, well, when I first heard it, didn't really like. I thought it was shallow. But from time to time, its simple melody plays contemplatively through my head and spills deep into my heart, filling a restless void.
It's title, Breathe by Michael W. Smith.
The Father has redeemed my time, my mind is at rest, and my spirit is renewed! May I encourage you to do the same?
I confess, it’s been a really tough week and I have not reflected your image appropriately. You have tried to remind me to breathe, relax, and slow down, but I've been too busy to listen. My days seems full of important activity. Responsibilities weigh heavy on my shoulders. Fiery darts come from every angle and have I tried to put out their flames. I get burned because many days I forget to put on your armor. Though I appear strong, I am very weak! My heart is burdened because this seems to be a repeated plea. Please forgive me for my lack of priorities and not keeping you first - even before I climb out of bed. Thank you that your mercies are new every morning. Thank you Father for your compassionate heart toward me. I am blessed by the words you speak and the fashion by which you deliver them. Help me always to bring glory to your name and bear your image with boldness, grace, and love. You are truly the air I breathe...good measure, pressed down, and overflowing...and I humbly give thanks.
In Jesus' Name, Amen
Always reminding myself to breathe!
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