friends and loved ones · who knows?

It never fails…

Last fall I began reading a series of books – “The Mitford Series” Which is a lovely set of novels that totally stole my attention from all important matters and immersed me into the lives of beloved characters.  I honestly have NO IDEA what I will do when I turn the last page of the final book.

At any rate, in the beginning of the first book one character shows resolve, in every situation, to pray the prayer that never fails.  No matter the circumstance, his heart and mind turn in that direction.  He goes through some rough stuff over the years, and it is always his “go-to” prayer.

What is that prayer you ask?

It is one short phrase from the middle of the Lord’s Prayer. “Thy Will Be Done.”

Let me be honest – initially I thought it was silly to take theological thoughts from a novel seriously.  Then I believed myself to be spiritually short-sighted for not thinking of it myself.  But, over time I’ve taken the short prayer for my own.

In my own life, where I attempt to be in control of plans and outcomes far too often, this mode of operation is terribly important. At first I thought it was just for when I was at the end of my rope, but now I know better.  It is for every possible moment – and I find myself thinking it all the time!

Thy will be done:

In my kitchen, when I’m baking 

In my dining room, with my children and their home schooling.

In our home, and all of the relationships with family and friends.

In my children’s choir lessons,  or at the piano when I teach.

At our church,

In our city, in our country

Each bit of work

All of our activities

Every thought… every word…

The list goes on and on.  Some things are easier to place in His hands than others.  Sometimes it’s easier to really mean this prayer when I’m praying for others, than when I’m praying it for myself.   However, I’ve never been so relieved, to come to the fresh realization that I don’t have to make things happen – I can rely on His will for what is best in every situation.  He never fails.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

friends and loved ones · who knows?

My Eternal King

We are at the end of Lent -40 days of contemplating sacrifice, ultimate sacrifice. After all this time of being a Christian – a Christ follower –  I don’t know if I can fully comprehend the reality of His sacrifice. But, over these last days I’ve come to realize this one thing :  Jesus is near; He is much closer than I expected.  And He is prepared to reveal Himself at every moment.   His sacrifice – His death and resurrection – made a way for me to know His presence more fully.

this Scripture, from Acts, put exactly what I’m experiencing:  Acts 17:27

“…that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”

It seems like Lent is a time set aside for groping for Him, knowing I have a hope that I will truly find Him. Good news! This season I have found Him so very present!

In His majesty and glory, I found Him, watching my favorite tree bring buds into leaves this spring.  I know that sounds strange, but,  I am reminded when I see this tall, strong, beautiful piece of creation that my Savior, by the power of His resurrection, makes all things new!  He brings the dead of winter, into the new life of spring – and it is truly glorious!  Even as He brings this tree to life, He has regenerated my own heart to new life in Christ!

And He was in the poetry of song.  I share this piece because it is rich with the truth and the splendor of His sacrifice.  I’ve heard it many times in the past, but this spring it brought His work on the cross to life in my heart and mind!

My Eternal King

My God, I love Thee;
not because I hope for heav’n thereby,
Nor yet because who love Thee not
Must die eternally.

Thou, O my Jesus, Thou didst me
Upon the cross embrace;
For me didst bear the nails, the nails and spear,
And manifold disgrace.

Why, then why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
Should I not love Thee well?
Not for the hope of winning heav’n,
Or of escaping hell;

Not with the hope of gaining aught,
Not seeking a reward;
But as Thyself hast loved me,
O ever-loving Lord!

E’en so I love Thee, and will love,
And in Thy praise will sing;
Solely because Thou art my God,
And my Eternal King.

May I continue to grope for Him and find Him, not just now before Easter, but all year long!  Heavenly Father, Help my heart to be revived by your gracious presence in all of life’s moments!  amen.

friends and loved ones · who knows?

December tornado

img_5102It’s been a little busy around here.  Okay, truthfully, its been frantic.  There’s not a lot of room for quietness or serenity on the holiday musician’s calendar.  Add to it Emily’s exam schedule and end of semester home schooling activities, a husband’s high work demands, some baking and gift lists to fulfill, and, well you get the picture…  The stress is enough to make this mama’s heart crack into a million pieces.

It isn’t just that busyness for me.  Recently I finished another round of treatment.  Listen, it isn’t that big of a deal, really.  It isn’t.  There is so much worse that could be happening in my little family’s life.  Except that at the end of 16 weeks, I do feel like I’m an emotional disaster, loosing my mind at the busiest time of year.  (It is certainly why you don’t hear much from me here, on the blog.)   Definitely not what I imagine when I plan our Advent season.

So, the other day, as I was standing in my kitchen, making lists for baking supplies and outlining what I would bake when, I had a moment.  It isn’t that kind of thing you want anyone to see – it could also be described as a meltdown, involving lots of tears and tissues.  It all started because I couldn’t find a recipe…   then, everything (and I do mean every possible emotion) came swirling around me.  All of the emotion and stress of the past weeks just came loose like a tornado.

Am I the only experiencing a wild, unexpected storm in December? 

Then, like an angel of mercy, this music played on my speakers.  A sweet piano student had given me the Christmas record by Fernando Ortega.  At just the right moment, I heard these words, that slowed the raging storm in my heart and mind to a peaceful calm that only HE can give:

Jesus, King of angels, Heaven’s light
Shine Your face upon this house tonight
Let no evil come into my dreams
Light of Heaven keep me in Your peace

Remind me how You made dark spirits flee
And spoke Your power to the raging sea
And spoke Your mercy to a sinful man
Remind me Jesus, this is what I am

The universe is vast beyond the stars
But You are mindful when the sparrow falls
And mindful of the anxious thoughts
That find me, surround me and bind me

With all my heart I love You, Sovereign Lord
Tomorrow let me love You even more
And rise to speak the goodness of Your name
Until I close my eyes and sleep again

Jesus, King of angels, Heaven’s light
Hold my hand and keep me through this night

In a strange sort of way, I’ve come to believe that Advent is the most wonderful time of year to experience an anxious heart and stress.  Because, it is right now in the middle of all the holiday ridiculousness, my heart can bring into focus the truest story of Christmas!  The Prince of Peace, Jesus, was born as a tiny baby and came to earth to bring the very peace I need.

From the beginning of time He knew that He was coming to bring peace, even to me, standing in my “December-baking-decorating – list making -holiday-busy- kitchen.”  While I can’t fathom it, my heart is settled and quiet, resting in the very peace He has given to me.  I pray you will find that same rest and peace for your heart this Advent season.

friends and loved ones · who knows?

in need of a happy ending

It was Saturday.  Not just any old Saturday, either.  It was the day of one of my very favorite events of the year: my children’s choir was to ring the bells at a Salvation Army red kettle at a local grocery store and sing Christmas carols.

Friday night I was PUMPED.

Saturday morning I woke up sick as a dog.  And I mean the kind of sickness where you find yourself worshiping the god of the porcelain bowl – which I did many times before realizing I was NOT going to ring any bells or sing Christmas carols.  I made the right phone calls to cancel the event and fell back asleep for several hours.

When I woke up, I was bummed.  I had a lingering headache and heartache.  I was SAD.

What is a girl to do laying in bed with nowhere to go and no energy for anything except think about the unfortunate situation?  I turned on the tv for distraction.  I could hardly bear to watch anything that might exasperate my poor frame of mind.  My heart was lonely and cold; it needed a little warmth.

Hallmark Christmas movies almost hit the spot as I lay there half asleep-half watching the girl fall in love with the guy while everyone sings “Silent Night.” That about covers the theme of every Christmas Hallmark special, right?  Always culminating in a happy ending.  Always.  You can count on it like clockwork.  And sometimes it can help your heart.

Do you know what I realized later, when I was feeling better and in my right mind?  There is a very true story, significantly better than any Hallmark movie ever dreamed of being.   It is the story of Advent. That is what I truly needed- that Saturday, and every day for that matter.  It is the one narrative that brings all of the joy, peace and comfort needed to  warm my heart and soul.

from Luke 2:

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2 does not simply tell a nice story of a baby being born.  Yes, Jesus, came to earth – the Godhead incarnate!  It is an amazing, miraculous story of love and sacrifice that we as believers cherish and celebrate.

But, this passage from Luke presents the story of a God who makes promises and keeps them.  From early in the Old Testament, since the fall of man, He promised He would send a better King, a better sacrifice- a Redeemer and Savior.  And that is exactly what He did.  In Luke 2, God kept His promise.   There is nothing more hopeful than this : He is a promise-keeping God.  He will come again.  And when He does, He will redeem every story with His perfect ending.  When Jesus comes again to reign, that perfect ending? It will really just be a beautiful beginning of life with Him!

 

 

Uncategorized · who knows?

How long?

Its election season.  The normal discourse of presidential choice has turned into unfriendly, brow-beating, demanding voices, wreaking havoc in our country, in our city, and even among my Facebook friends.  It is vitriol like I’ve not seen before. Personally,  the decisions weigh heavy, as though I’m responsible for who becomes president,  who sits on the Supreme Court,  and basically, the fate of our country and the entire world.

I shouldn’t let all of this have such unlimited access to my heart.  

Here’s what I know: There is coming a day of peace and restoration.  Our country and our world may be terribly broken – but He is not undone by what is happening. From generation to generation He remains the same, and He is in control.  His Word can be my focus and sure foundation.  He promises morning will follow the darkest night.  He promises we will not be consumed by our trials.  And there is coming a day – when we will be with our Savior – and we will be invited to the table to feast with Him – no more weeping – only rejoicing.

I’m thinking just for a moment about those I love in Heaven!  Oh, how they are experiencing the joy of God’s promises fulfilled!  Having stepped into eternity, they now truly comprehend the momentary nature of our current earthly experiences.  They understand His Word and know Him fully and intimately.   I don’t suppose I’m really imagining it well.

The words of this song by Sandra McCracken remind me of God’s promises and point my heart in the proper direction.  I’m listening on repeat this morning.  He remains true and faithful to His Word.

We will feast in the house of Zion
We will sing with our hearts restored
He has done great things, we will say together
We will feast and weep no more.

We will not be burned by the fire
He is the LORD our God
We are not consumed, by the flood
Upheld, protected, gathered up.

In the dark of night, before the dawn
My soul, be not afraid
For the promised morning, oh how long?
Oh God of Jacob, be my strength.

Every vow we’ve broken and betrayed
You are the Faithful one
And from the garden to the grave
Bind us together, bring shalom.

How long until we are all feasting together?  Even so, come Lord Jesus!  

friends and loved ones · who knows?

not finished yet…

On Friday a new garage door was installed at our house.  I’ve been very excited about the new door arriving.  We’ve been looking forward to replacing the door for a long time.  It was OLD.  And It creaked and moaned every time we used it.  For the last month or so, I’ve actually worried that it might fall down, right out of the ceiling.

When the installer arrived, I opened our garage. As he walked in, the garage door made all of its tired noises and he said, “This is a terrible door.”  And all I could do was nod.  There was nothing else to be said.   The process of putting up the garage door turned out to be a little more complicated than expected and it took him quite a while.  Once he was finished and gone, I went outside to look over the door.

Now, I have to tell you, in case you don’t know:  Our house is currently brown cedar siding and brown brick.  Because we have painted Michael’s shop in the backyard from a palette of blues, we are also planning to side the house (maybe in the next year or two?)  and paint it from the same palette.  So, based on what we know is going to happen in the future, we chose a white garage door.

That’s right – the door is white, surrounded completely by brown.

As I stood in our driveway I had this overwhelming desire to put a sign in the yard that said, “Not finished yet.”    I don’t want folks to think this is the final look we’re going for – there’s more to come!  But I didn’t do it.

It is true that I need that sign, and not just outside my house.   Personally, as a believer, I am a work in progress – and I’m nowhere near the finish – God is still at work.  Worse, it seems to be taking a LONG time.  Unending home remodeling projects have nothing on my heart’s renovations!

What I do know is that He is at work!  Sometimes it is really painful – sometimes it is a joy.   But it is happening!   The thing is, often what’s going on in my life can seem unusual or awkward because I don’t see the outcome.   In my own human imaginations it is hard to figure out what the current crisis is about, until it is over.

But,  I can wait with confidence. He has planned the renovations from beginning to end –  He promises He won’t quit until the work in my life is complete. And, guess what? Even as I am in process, I can give grace to others, knowing that their hearts are under contract too.

Philippians 1: 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2: 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

So, when you come to my house for a visit, and it looks a little unusual    from the ongoing projects, maybe we can agree to remember- we are all not finished yet!  

friends and loved ones · who knows?

Oh me of little faith!

DSC00462

(The cutest little picture of “ready – not ready for back to school”!  Oh these two, I love them so!)

Last spring, I felt it coming.  change.  It was hanging in the air around my home like a thick unwanted fog that made decisions difficult to bring into focus.  Moving forward almost impossible.

You probably know my oldest daughter has moved into high school this year.  She’s a freshman, doing really, really well – and it is so exciting.  All is well on that front.   But the road from last spring to now – well, that wasn’t so easy.

When homeschooling, there are important plans to be made each year.  While I try not to make these every day choices on our journey too monumental, it doesn’t change how it feels:  enormous.  That’s how it felt last spring when I was trying to figure out how to help Emily embark well into her high school career.   And that was just the beginning.  What about music lessons for Isaac?  What about gymnastics, or soccer for Mackenzie?  Cub scouts?  The list of questions went on a mile long.

My work schedule does necessitate that we stay together for academics.  Whether its a co-op, or classical conversations, we need to be away from home one day a week and no more, at least for this school year.  So, on these terms – I put out a “fleece” (if you will) to see what God had for us.

As it turns out, it seemed God was pointing us to a Monday community of Classical Conversations that meets across town. You would think I was Gideon, how I kept setting out tests – “Are you sure it is this, God?”  oh.  okay.  Wait, “Are you really sure?”     You see, I wasn’t totally looking forward to starting my crew at a completely new community with complete strangers and different curriculum and all the other stuff that comes with change.  But, with each of my tests, He just kept pointing me in the direction of “change” and “new” and “uncomfortable.”

sigh.

As the summer passed I became increasingly uneasy that I had made a huge error in my plans.  I can’t tell you how many times I thought about backing out, even though I’d had so many clear answers from heaven, in response to my many fleeces.

One of my prayers over the summer was that all of my children would find a place to build strong friendships.  I prayed this especially for my Isaac, who needs some friends to do “boy stuff” with, since he is with us girls all day long, all week long.

The week before our CC community began Isaac went to cub scouts on Monday night and met some new boys; he made a friend named Gaston.  Several times over the week I heard Isaac mention Gaston, and plans to hang out with him the coming week at cub scouts on Monday night.

On the next Monday morning  we drove across town to our new CC community for the first time with anxious hearts.  We were heading to a new place, with new classrooms, new tutors,  new faces and names to remember.  You won’t believe who was sitting in Isaac’s class!  Gaston!  I thought Isaac was going to cry from excitement and relief.

I left his classroom with a few tears welling up, realizing that there are so many little moments like that this year, here at the beginning of our school year!  The God of the universe is in control of the tiniest details, right down to making sure my son had a friend on his first day of CC.   I couldn’t have pulled all of this together the way He has orchestrated it if I’d had years to plan it!

Sometimes my faith is tiny.  Sometimes I just don’t believe He’s had time to note the specifics of my situation.  But, I’m glad my level of faith does not correspond to how well my Heavenly Father cares for me and my little family.  He holds us close no matter what.

I love how the Message reads in this passage from Colossians 1:

15-18 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.