Friday, February 25, 2011

Nothing to Fear

Last weekend, our grandchildren were staying with us.  It was bedtime and Jack and Emma were tucked into bed, nestled under piles of warm covers with Grannie Frannie sitting at their side to sing the same songs to them she sang to their daddy what seemed only a few years ago.

A teddybear.Image via WikipediaAt one point, Emma rolled over and said she needed a bear to hold. (Grannie Frannie has a collection of beautiful, fun and cuddly little brown bears.)  At that point, not to be outdone, Jackson declared he also needed a "lovey".  When I curiously asked them why they needed them, Emma's little three-year-old voice spoke up, "I might get scared."

My immediate response was to reassure them, "There is nothing in this house to be afraid of!"

I think in these days of turmoil and unrest in our nation, and across the globe, if we could hear our heavenly Father tell us anything, it would be "There is nothing in MY house for you to fear."

Our Lord has known every millisecond of our day from before the foundations of the world.  He knows what is to happen tomorrow and the day after that.  The Scriptures tell us He is working all things "after the counsel of His own will" and working all things "together for good" to them who love Him.

If this is the case, how can we worry and fear for anything.  Just as little Jack and Emma are safe and protected in our house (with not only Grannie Frannie, but also Granddaddy, Aunt Marie and Aunt Emmie to protect them --and even Sparrow!) we are safe in the world in which our Father has placed us.  There is nothing that is a surprise or a secret to Him and He only wishes for us to trust and obey as little children, like Jack and Emma, and to rest in the fact that He will take care of us.

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Philippians 4:6

"Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: 
the whole earth is full of His glory." Isaiah 6:3
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Today is my father's birthday.

He would have been 93.

It is hard to imagine what my father would have been like today if he had not died fourteen years ago.  It is hard for me to imagine him playing with my grandson or perching his great-granddaughter on his knee.

As I write this, I can feel the hot tears begin to well and I know that they could easily flow down my face onto my keyboard.  Not a good idea.  Not just because salt water is bad for computer keyboards, but because I know that my father is now and has been since the moment his heart ceased to beat, in the very presence of the Lord Jesus.

He is experiencing joy unspeakable and full of grace.  He knows peace which passes understanding.  He is in the very presence of Eternal Love.  The very best day I could imagine for him on earth would be a dreadful day in Heaven.  Not for a moment would he wish to be back here and not for a second would I want to bring him back.

My granddaughter Emma has been trying to understand why I "don't have parents anymore".  At each visit she asks me about my parents, about how they died, and then she follows those questions with this inevitable one,"Do you miss them?"

Yes, Emma, I miss both of them very much.  But the same joy that my Dad knows today, I know inside of me.  The same peace he knows, I have living in me.  The same love has come to dwell in my spirit.

I may have lost my father in this world, but I have grown in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus unlike anything I could have imagined.  This is because those sad days, those mournful moments turned me to the only One who can truly comfort in this world, the "Man of Sorrows".

"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not." Isaiah 53:3

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beautiful, but Dangerous. . .

These are Star Gazer lillies.  Their graceful shape and bright color are both eye catching and beautiful. Their thick fragrance can easily fill a large room.

I hate them.

Don't get me wrong.  I think they are gorgeous, and I love looking at this picture of them.  I hate them because of what they do to me.  Even the slightest sniff of their aroma and my eyes begin to itch and water, my head starts to pound and my nose runs like a faucet.

The flowers are beautiful, but for me they are dangerous.  I am allergic to them and the shortest contact with them brings me misery.

Some things in life are like that.  They are beautiful.  They smell good.  They are graceful and admired.  But they are dangerous.  In the end, they bring damage and destruction.

Just because we want something doesn't mean we should have it.  Just because it looks like it would be good for us, doesn't mean that is the Lord's will for our lives. Just because it is a sweet-fragrance to our nose, doesn't mean our having it would be a sweet smelling fragrance to His.

We must always be sure we are seeking His judgment and will in all things, willing to be corrected, willing to give us those things which appear beautiful, to instead embrace those things which appear unlovely.

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5,6

"For he shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him."  Isaiah 53:2

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

He Turns the Frame

I am graced to be invited to a Men's breakfast each Friday morning.  I am usually the only woman at this table of fine gentlemen and I have to admit I like it that way!  This past Friday I had the most delightful conversation with a wonderful gentleman my father's age, whom I have known since I was a young girl.

He and I discussed how the Lord works in our lives when we don't even know it.  We talked about times in our own lives when we looked back and could see how the Lord had led us, protected us and guided us, even though we might not have thought He was, might not have been asking Him to, or perhaps didn't even know Him at the time.  But He knew us.

Our conversation reminded
me of a cross stitch picture which has hung in our living room for almost seventeen years. 

Now for those of you who don't know, let me tell you what a cross-stitch picture is.  Cross-stitch
uses small x-shaped stitches to form a picture.  This picture is a type of counted cross stitch, which means the pattern is not printed on the canvas, but the person stitching must count the threads of the canvas in each direction to find where each stitch should go.  Then the outline is stitched in place.

The cross stitch picture in my living room took three years to complete.
It didn't take three years to sew, it took three years because at times I would get frustrated and put it on the shelf in the closet for months at a time.

Let me explain why I was frustrated.  The directions I had which would tell me where each stitch should go was not the original  set of instructions, it was a photocopy.  I didn't know until the picture was almost finished that the original directions were printed in black AND red.  The black symbols represented instructions for one set of colors and the red for another.

Because they were incomplete, there were times I couldn't make any sense of the instructions. The colors just didn't seem to go where the directions indicated.  The outlines just didn't seem to be in the right places. Often I couldn't even make any sense of the picture that was unfolding before my eyes. 

I was certain I had made incredible mistakes, and frustrated, would put the canvas away.  Weeks later, my desire to have the piece finished would cause me to pull it out and tackle it again.

Looking at the picture, one would never guess I had inadequate instructions along the way.  I think the only discernable traces of the mistake is in her eyes.   By the directions, she should have had green eyes and they ended up brown.  But since all three of my children inherited my husband's green eyes, I joke that this is my only brown-eyed "child".  Shortly after the picture was finished, my children named her Jennifer.

If I could remove Jennifer's frame and show you the back of the canvas, you would see
the knots and tangled threads, the crossed threads and mistakes which are so easily visible there.  But they aren't visible from the front.

That's how it is with our lives.  We look at our lives and we see all the tangled threads, all the knots and loose ends. . .we can't imagine how the Lord can ever make anything worth while of the mess we have made with things.   But as Mr. Howell and I said, the Lord is always working in our lives, working things out for good. . .working to "will and to do of His good pleasure" as Paul told the Philippians. He is always weaving in our lives that which is ultimately for our best.

 When we look at the tangled threads and knotted messes of our lives, we have to remember, we are looking at our life from our  side.   We need to remember there is a "God side" to our life as well, and one day He will turn the frame of our lives over and show us what He has wrought in and through us. 

Sometimes we get glimpses here and there, but one day we shall "know even as we are known."  The frame will be turned.

The Frame Is Turned

There were times I saw His hand weaving in my days,
Untying knots I had wrought with all my struggling ways.
There were times I wondered as His threads entwined,
Or questioned as I watched Him trace the faint outline.

Then the frame was turned,
And I could see,
The work His tender hand
Wrought deep in me.

Things I questioned once, now became such a beauty;
The threads and knots He tied, a canvas of tapestry.
His plan for me was known, a secret now revealed,
His love spread to me and my heart His Spirit sealed.

Now my life is turned,
And I can see,
The touch His tender hand
Works deep in me.

Incomplete my canvas yet, He still pulls the threads.
But my heart is sure, I can trust where'er I'm led.
He weaves His hand and leads me safely in His ways;
He weaves His love to bring forth prayer, to bring forth praise.

My life is in His frame,
For all to see.
I am no more the same,
He's deep in me.
I am no more the same,
He lives in me. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Patiently Waiting

At each meal our beagle Sparrow waits.

She sits beside, or in front of, one of us watching and waiting. She doesn't move from her position. She doesn't bark (she, after all, a hound). She doesn't howl (she, after all, a hound). She doesn't whine or whimper. She just looks up with those chocolate brown eyes of hers.

She is waiting. . .hoping a morsel of food -- better than the diet dog food in her dish -- might be tossed, or dropped, her way.

Sparrow's consistency impresses me. She never whines. She always waits patiently. She doesn't tap her little foot or even sigh, and Sparrow has been known to sigh when she is unhappy about something.

I want to be like Sparrow.

I want to patiently wait on the Lord, not barking, howling or whining, not tapping my foot or sighing either. I want to remain patiently at His side or His feet to receive what He has for me and accept it with the readiness and joy that Sparrow seems to accept any tidbit which comes her way.

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. " Psalm 46:10

"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5,6

Friday, February 4, 2011

Practice Produces Results

My KeyboardImage via WikipediaOur grandson, Jackson, loves to sit at our piano and let his fingers play up and down the keyboard. Because of his lack of skill and training, the result is not very melodic, even if it is often passionate and loud.

With a slight bit more skill than Jackson, and a little training, when I play the result is a little better, but not much. (Not nearly as loud or passionate, however.)

Our daughter Emmie has had as much training as I have had (though not quite as long ago) and has a bit more skill. It shows in the results.

My husband has had little training but has great skill and is very gifted. He can sit at the piano and play any song he has heard, or any he wishes to create, as if he has played them most of his life. His fingers move with speed and accuracy the sound of which has resulted in many pleasurable moments in my life.

Our daughter Marie has had training, has great skill and is very gifted. When she plays, I stop whatever I am doing to listen. The speed at which her fingers can produce notes astounds me. Even the most complicated music does not seem to phase her.

In our Christian lives, our utilization of the Bible can often be like the piano in our house. Some seem to have a great gift for delving into the Scriptures and gleaning from them the truths they contain. Others can only read the words and wonder what they must mean.
I think there are definitely some for whom the Lord has called to studiously devour the Word. For the rest of us though, I think it is meant to repetitively read it until it has been hidden in our hearts. It reminds me of a piece of music I learned to play as a teenager. I played it so much then, that even now I can sit at the piano and play the majority of the piece, it was so etched into my brain.

If we do not know the Scriptures, it is usually not because they are too complicated for us to understand, after all, the Bible is the only book that comes with it's author to illuminate it for us. If we cannot understand it, perhaps we have not been asking the Lord to open our eyes to the truths the pages contain.

Or perhaps, as one character in a favorite book of mine says (speaking of her piano performance), "I have always supposed it to be my own fault -- because I would not take the trouble of practicing." Perhaps we just have not spent enough time in the Scriptures to be well-versed in them, familiar with them and to have them hidden in our hearts.

Let us decide, that like the Psalmist David, we will hide the Scriptures in our hearts.

"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee."
Psalm 119:11

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Every Time, On Time

A few weeks before Christmas, I ordered for my oldest daughter what she described asImage representing UPS  as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase her "number one Christmas present." Several days later I received an email from the seller that stated the particular item I purchased was out of stock. I scoured the internet looking for another vendor selling the same item. Finally I found one who sold the item and had it in stock, even though the price was three times as much as the original vendor. I canceled the first order and ordered the second, expecting it to arrive just before Christmas.

A week later, I received an email from the vendor that the item was out of stock, but they would be shipped right after Christmas. This would have to do, it was too close to Christmas to try and find the item anywhere else now. I put a note -- actually a poem -- in a box for my daughter that her present would arrive after Christmas.

A couple days after Christmas, I received an email from the vendor that the item was now back-ordered and would be shipped the first week of the New Year. I was disappointed, but I could understand the delay.

After the first week of January, I received an email saying the item was delayed and would arrive at the end of the month. I was no longer disappointed, I was angry. I searched the internet again for the item and found it. I verified the vendor had the item in stock -- yes, he had them. I ordered it. I emailed the other vendor and canceled my order. . .rather vehemently. The item was at our door within three days, from the original vendor, I might add.

I felt that neither of these vendors completely met my needs in a timely manner. There is Someone however who always meets my needs, every time, and as our dear friend Mrs. Becky points out, "on time, too."

The Lord promises to supply ALL our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. There is no better guarantee than that. The riches of the Lord are unfathomable and the ability of the Lord Jesus is unfaltering and His timeliness is pinpoint.

"But my God shall supply all your need
according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19
"And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."
Isaiah 65:24