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Archive for October, 2011

Monday Mornings

Another Monday morning and the whole fresh, new week is before me.  It’s like getting a paycheck:  How will I spend it?  Part of it is sort of automatically designated, but the rest I can use frugally, spend and give freely, or totally waste it.  The choice is mine.  And I have to admit, I usually do some of all three choices.

But, as I begin my week planning out my days, I am well aware that I have no idea what God will bring across my path this week.  Will it be ministry opportunities?  Will it be testing of my own soul?  Will it be refreshing?  Or will it be draining?

Through the years I’ve noticed that God tends to sprinkle some of all of these things into my life, but He’s so good to spread it around so that I can not only bear it, but I can enjoy it also.  The calm after storms is enriching and enlivening, as well as refreshing!  Years ago I learned a verse that has helped strengthen me through the years.  It is found in I Corinthians 10:13 and it goes like this:  “No temptation (trial) has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted (tried) beyond what you can bear, but when you are tempted (tried) He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

I have found this verse to be SO true.  My Loving Father only ever gives or allows what I can bear.  And through it all, HE is my strength and encouragement and hope.  If I trust Him completely, I don’t have to worry at all.  I only have to hold His hand.  And what more could I want than that?

We might think we’d like no trials—but look at all we would not have learned!  We might think we want no failures—but where would we learn to appreciate success?  Trials and even failures help strengthen us, but they also give us (if we’re wise enough to use them as such) a heart of sympathy for others that fail so that we can encourage and strengthen them.  In this way, our failures become part of our education.  If we truly focus on God, He wastes nothing.  He can use it all in our lives to bring us to where He wants us to be.

And so, as I look at the week before me I can’t help but wonder what it holds.  What will I learn this week?  Where/how will I have opportunity to serve?  I don’t know the answers yet, but I head into the week knowing one very reassuring fact:  I go not alone, for God is always with me.  And therein is my strength.  And my joy!

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God’s Paintbrush

Last week Rick and I vacationed in Maine with some friends.  We had more fun than you can imagine, and more adventures than even I anticipated!  But my favorite adventure of the week was the day we watched the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean!

We had planned and talked and discussed and schemed, set our alarms for sometime during the night but didn’t need them anyway because the sheer excitement kept sleep at bay.  In the dark we pulled on jeans and grabbed coffee and giggled our way to the rented car to begin our day.  Dave was our designated driver for the week because it was more practical than insuring all of us as drivers, so we climbed in with him at the wheel and drove through the dark to the top of a mountain that juts out into the ocean by some measured amount, allowing it to be called the farthest point east in the continental USA.  Supposedly if you stand on this peak and watch to the east, you can be the first in the country to see the sun rise.  That’s pretty close to a dare in my book, and so we bit!

After parking and grabbing jackets and scarves and gloves we shivered our way to the peak in the dark.  We were among the very first to arrive, but within the next hour a good number of brave souls ventured forth to join us in our vigil.  Even with so many on the mountain, I was amazed at the hush—indeed the stillness that bespoke the sacred expectancy.

The four of us arrived at least an hour before sunrise.  When we found our preferred spot, we stood and watched and listened.  In the hush of the pre-dawn you could hear the water lapping against the base of the cliff, and in time, a few gulls off in the distance as they began to rouse.  As we watched, it seemed I could hear God whispering in my heart, “Oh, Judi!  Just wait until you see what I have to show you this morning!” and I could hear His giggles of delight as He enjoyed my eager expectancy.

After what seemed like a very long wait, I was quite certain I could see a faint tinge of light along the horizon.  While I was still wondering if it was only my imagination, I began to see color that could not be denied.  I had expected light.  I was not prepared for the intense show of color.  I reached for Rick’s hand.  He squeezed mine and grinned at me.  No words were needed.

By now there was quite a crowd vying for space on the mountaintop, but even with so many people, the silence was sacred.  And by this point the sky was changing noticeably.  Soon there was just a small slice of white light on the farthest eastern point.  I wanted to capture it with my camera, but at the same time, I didn’t want to miss one moment by fussing with the thing.  I did indeed snap a shot here and there during the performance, and I must have breathed too, but it felt like I only stood there holding my breath.

Suddenly I started singing in my heart:  “Morning has broken…Like the first morning…”

Quite sometime later I became aware of movement about me.  Looking around, I realized the sun was quite high in the sky and many of the people were leaving.  Still there was a quietness that is hard to describe.  It felt like such a sacred hush, like the final AMEN after a blessed time of worship.

Eventually we left that place to proceed with our vacation and other adventures, but the exciting part is that it has not left me.  I still see it—the darkness broken by such glorious color.  I still feel it—the cold morning being warmed by the intense expectation.  I still hear it—the hush of water dashing against a shore far below, the shuffling of footsteps as they clung to the face of the rock, the whisper of fellow beings waiting in expectation.  But most of all I still sense it—God’s joy as He lifted the curtain on such a spectacular display.

And I hope I never, NEVER forget it!  God is SO good!

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Tribute to Mom

Today is a day that always has a way of twisting my heart into a tight little knot.  October 6 is a landmark day, not only for me, but for our family.  Today is my dear mother-in-law’s birthday.

For the past fourteen years she has celebrated her special day in heaven.  But I believe somehow she knows that it will always be special for all of us that love her dearly.

It was well over 40 years ago that I first met this tiny little woman with the huge heart.  In fact, Mom gave new meaning to the phrase ‘you’re all heart’ because her heart encompassed many with much compassion.

I was fearful when I knew we’d meet for the first time.  I was totally smitten with her son, and it was very important to me that she would approve of me.  And do you know what?  She not only approved, she and Dad encouraged us in our relationship from the very beginning.  They accepted me with open hearts and open arms, and I quickly loved them back.  Through the years of our marriage, they have been our stronghold.

In the early years, when Rick was still in school, they not only encouraged us verbally, but often filled our car with gas and slipped an extra $20 into Rick’s hand or pocket—which was huge in that day!  ($20 went a LOT farther 40 years ago than it does now!)  Dad taught us how to budget and both of them encouraged us in every endeavor through the years.

When Mom had a stroke, suddenly my life seemed unsteady.  I watched as she went downhill physically for more than a year before she finally slipped into the arms of her Creator and Lover.  As we stood around her bed that night, waiting for another blood transfusion and watching the breathing get more and more shallow, I knew she was leaving us.  All I could think was that life would be so very different in a world without Mom.

It’s been well over a decade now since she left, but I still can’t stop missing her.  I wish so often I could pick up the phone and say, “Mom, do you know that I love you?”  I wish I could thank her for all that she meant to me and to so many others.  I wish I could say thanks for accepting me and loving me and for being such a good grandmother for our boys and for loving them.  She had four grandchildren and not one of them could ever doubt her love.  I wonder sometimes if they really understand how very special it is to have a grandmother to love you.  I can’t fathom that!  What a gift!

And so, today I must confess to having shed some tears.  In fact, my face is quite damp as write this.  But as I sigh today, my heart rejoices for all the years I enjoyed knowing her and loving her.  I weep for the times I was too busy with work and teenagers to give her the time she deserved and probably longed for, but I’m thankful for all the good memories we shared.  I am not the best daughter-in-law in the world by far, but no one could be more grateful for the memories, for the acceptance, for the love than me.  And whispered in every sigh today is one sad/happy phrase:

Happy, Happy Birthday Mom!  I’ll always love you!

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