Blue sky

Day 21 of 31 Days of October – Roses Among The Thorns

No matter how the clouds gather,

No matter the shades of grey that roll and swirl and block the light,

No matter that darkness seems to last too long,

No matter the swirling and twisting that takes your breath,

There is still a blue sky behind it all,

And after the storm, it will break through.

Blue sky

” . . . [Jesus] rebuked the wind and the rough waves, and the storm ceased. And all became calm.”  Luke 8:24

For a list of the days of October, go here please.

Gentle serving

Day 20 of 31 Days of October – Roses Among The Thorns

I worked in customer service for about seven years at the YMCA.  Training and supervising staff to give our members excellent service was a major part of my responsibilities.  I enjoyed serving with the rest of the staff.

It was often a fun job but it was not always easy.  Some members were great and came with smiles and positive attitudes.  Some complimented our facility and our work.  A few complained.  Either way we tried to serve to the best of our ability.

I read that Jesus came as a servant.  He didn’t ask others to serve Him though He had every right to do so.

One of the prophesies confirming Jesus as Messiah was the way He would serve.  Gently.  With humility.

Jesus was a leader among leaders.  His courage was never in question.  He faced his critics with straight answers, never backing down, never pulling punches as He spoke the truth.

Yet He said of Himself, that He was gentle and lowly.  Humility was never a disguise for any weakness in Him.   It was His way of showing us how to live.

I am again in a position of serving.  My Sweet William is in a difficult season, not able to be active the way he used to be, not able to do some things for himself.  So I must help him.  My days are often long and tiring.  I wish I could say I consistently serve like Jesus did.  Sadly, I don’t always.  Sometimes I get frustrated, irritated, and impatient.

Then I read Scripture and am reminded again that this is what I am called to do if I am to become more like Jesus.  He elevated the role of servanthood to the ultimate level.  And He asks me to follow in His steps.

I’ve had plenty of time to practice my serve.  Sometimes it was in the basement of the church with little people, sometimes it was on the platform playing for the choir.

Whatever position it is, I am called to the highest of missions.  Serving the one God has placed in front of me.

If I want to do it well, I need to keep practicing.

For a list of the days of October, go here please.Bill and Peg, dad's 90th

This day

Day 19 of 31 Days of October – Roses Among The Thorns

Today,

May you join with fellow believers and worship with all your heart.

May you sing your song out loud.

May you taste and see that the Lord is good.

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Enjoy the sound of the crackling leaves and the laughter of your family.

Enjoy the taste of good food and pumpkin lattes.

Enjoy the brilliant colors on the trees.

Enjoy the smell of autumn in the air.

Enjoy the feel of God’s presence all around you.

This is the day He has made.  Rejoice and be glad!

Today may you be refreshed in body and soul.

Sunday blessings, friends.

For a list of the days of October, go here please.

Going back

I’ve been doing a lot of going back and forth lately.  Back to the church of my youth.   Back to the place of so many memories.  Back to the songs I know so well.

Dixie Valley

The church were I grew up is having its 75th anniversary this weekend.  As part of the music planned for the weekend celebration, I’ve been traveling there for choir practices.  Dixie Valley Church of God is where I went from being a child to an adult, where I met and courted Sweet William, where we married and where we served when our one and only son was born.

I played the organ.  Sweet William played the guitar.  We were charter members of the Dixie Valley Youth Choir in its prime.  They were good days.

Former members of the church and choir are coming from near and far away to practice and participate in the weekend services.  We are singing a lot of old songs, the toe-tapping hand-clapping gospel songs.  Sometimes they raise the rafters.

What started as a youth choir in the 1970s is now a group of multi-generational people.  Those of us in the original youth choir have aged.  There are balding and grey heads among us.  We’ve born children and are enjoying grandchildren.  Some have parted with spouses by death or divorce.  We’ve had our share of happiness but we’ve also swam in deep waters and rivers of difficulty.  More importantly we have experienced the grace of God through the years and we know, yes, we know without a doubt that our God is real.

The church of my youth has changed in so many ways.  Pastors have come and gone.  A host of members have left us by way of the grave.  This weekend we will remember and be thankful for our experiences together.

And at the end of the day, one thing will remain.  When it is all said and done, God is still faithful and His church is triumphant.

May we always remember.

Busy days

Day 17 of 31 Days of October – Roses Among The Thorns

To do list

It’s been a busy few days (thus me missing some of my 31 days commitment).

I am in a season when busy is just the way it is.  In order to take care of Sweet William and take care of business, being busy cannot be helped.  I know that seasons change and this one will pass eventually.

In my younger days I sometimes wore “so busy” as a badge of how important I was, or at least how important my activity was.  But as I study the life of Jesus, being too busy does not describe His life style.

For certain, He had an agenda, to do the will of the Father, to complete the task of bringing salvation to all the world through His death on the cross.  Nothing could hinder Him from that.  He would let no man determine the course of His activity.

Yet, I never read where Jesus was in a hurry.  And I notice how often He was interrupted and how He took that in stride.  He was moved by compassion for the needs of people.  He spent days healing the sick and demon possed.  He stopped in His tracks when a poor woman touched His garment or a father came running for help for his child.  Those kind of things never seemed to throw Jesus’ schedule off balance.

I have pondered Jesus’ words to his disciples, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice . . . ”  It is a reference to Hosea 6:6 which reads:

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

I need to learn a lesson.  God desires that I exhibit kindness, patience, and mercy to those in front of me, to anyone who interrupts my schedule, rather than an accumulation of completed tasks. He wants me to know Him more than He wants all of my good deeds.

I get that backwards sometimes.

There will always be things to do.  Always.  But I may not always be able to spend time with that person right in front of my eyes, the someone who crosses my path of tasks to finish.  My relationship with my Father and with others and is more important than doing more and more.

In God’s economy less is often more.

For a list of the days of October, go here please.

The colorful “To Do List” is from CleanMama.net.

Sweet William

It’s Sweet William’s birthday.  We will celebrate as we can, in ways he is able.  Life presents its challenges to both of us.  We are in process, he and I, the process to become more like Christ.  It can be uncomfortable.  Sometimes it’s painful.

Some have asked about me calling him Sweet William.  There were years when Wild Bill fit him a little better.  His hard  hat at work bore that label.  The wild young man I took as my husband was fearless to tackle any project.

The years have mellowed him, tendered him.  It happened to both of us.  God has continually worked to change us into someone different, someone better, someone more like Jesus.  Grace flowed down on both of us, and we are living proof that beauty indeed can rise from the ashes.

sweet william

There’s a flower called Sweet William, a perennial I’ve grown in my garden.  The flowers are delicate.  My Sweet William doesn’t look delicate at all.  He is tall and broad-shouldered still in spite of too many health problems.  In those tender years of our courtship, he was strong and able to do back flips leaving quite an impression on this girl’s heart.  When he wrapped his big hand around mine, I felt protected and safe.

Time and illness have taken its toll on him, but he is still not delicate.  With the health challenges and pain he has endured, he is anything but delicate.  He is courageous and the bravest man I know.

I pray for a year of hope and healing for my Sweet William.  Though the thorns try to obscure, the flowers, the roses, the sweet williams are still there.  We will look for them.  We will enjoy them in the ways we are able.  And we will thank God for them.

 

A little understanding

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I read a Chinese proverb that goes like this:

  • What I learn I may forget.
  • What I see I may remember.
  • What I do I may understand.

I learn by doing.  What about you?  You can tell me how to do something.  You can even show me.  But let me get my hands into it and the task is more likely to make sense so I can duplicate it again.

So I count gifts and write them in a notebook, partly to understand.

I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp a number of years ago.  Then a year or so ago, I led the Bible study she wrote by the same name.  Both emphasize the action of listing gifts daily, numbering them to one thousand and more, with the result being we become more joyful in the process.

I acknowledge that it is true for me.

When I am complacent and stop writing down the daily gifts, I begin to forget how many there really are.  I begin to focus more on what is lacking in my life.  The process of looking for gifts and then writing them down helps me understand how very much I am loved by God.

Eucharisteo Ann reminds me is grace and joy joined to become thanksgiving.  Some days counting gifts is just plain hard, the hard Eucharisteo when the gift does not seem a gift at all.  But I find it’s important to count even then, turning my eyes toward the Giver who brings beauty from ashes and works all things for good.

His gifts are everywhere.  This season of autumn has a harvest, a full and running over bounty of grace.  These gifts are ours if we choose to look for them and receive.  We can understand the goodness and love of God by listing them daily.  It’s a discipline, one that helps us grow.

Try it.   And by doing you may comprehend a little more the God who loves to give.