Sunday grace

Oh Lord, You know me well, better than anyone else.

You know my grace-filled ponderings. You also know when I am anxious, angry, disgruntled, unbelieving.

You have a window into my heart that no one else has ever seen. The place where I battle to bring every thought into subjection to You.

I want to dwell on things that are pure and lovely, honorable and true. Sometimes I struggle.

Oh Lord, You love me like no other, even though You know me so well. How is that possible, that Your love goes beyond my ability to be lovable?

I don’t understand Your ways. They are too high, too deep. I cannot grasp Your affection for me. You give love like an ever-bubbling stream, a fountain of fresh life. It washes over me, calling me to climb higher and dwell peacefully in hope.

Why do I worry and stress when I am Yours and You have me in Your hands, working out Your perfect plan? Why do I let anxiety get the best of me? You are my Lord and Savior, my Redeemer and the God who sees me.

You are the Lover of my soul, the Shepherd who leads me beside still waters and restores my soul.

Still my apprehension and my fear as I put my trust in You.

Sunday grace

Moon signs

I stepped out to the deck, it all sparkles with frost on the railing ledges in the cold pre-dawn. The moon sends light in the clear dark sky.

The moon draws me this time of year. In its waning cycle now, it will take its time toward full round in less than a month. And then it will be Passover.

With fascination and memory, I watch the progress of the moon this time of year as it grows small, disappears and then starts to grow large again. Science books would explain its rotation and the shadows that block my view, but let me simply enjoy the beauty and mystery of it.

I watch the night sky with anticipation, the moon cycle signaling the Passover season which falls close to the holiday of Easter.

The first day of Passover is always a full moon. And my mind wanders back thousands of years to the first Passover when the Israelites prepared lambs for supper and brushed blood on their doorposts, following instructions they didn’t fully understand yet.

A scene from the classic movie, The Ten Commandments staring Charlton Heston as Moses, comes to mind. It is the night of Passover and the moon glows full and bright. What appears to be the shadow of death begins to move slowly toward Egypt. In this particular scene, the shadow blocks the moon for a few seconds as it pushes forward.

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I wonder what it was like that fateful night, the people of God shut in their humble slave dwellings, covered by the blood, eating lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread while they waited for something. Did they know this was the night of their deliverance?

Passover was God’s object lesson of what was coming. It was the shadow of the real and tangible Savior of the world, Jesus. The people would wait long for the promised Messiah, and He would come.

The anticipation of Passover carries me toward the season of remembrance.  Remembering the promise of a Lamb that God alone would provide for the redemption of the world.

This perfect Lamb would provide our freedom. Do we know this? Do we recognize it? Do we remember it? Have we accepted Him as our own Deliverer?

“For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”

                — 1 Corinthians 5:7

Observe the moon set in its orbit by our creator God. He is the One who promises, and He is faithful to do what He says.

 

Sunday grace

Show me Your glory Lord!

It is a prayer, my heart’s cry. I want to see Him, see Him in the splendor of who He is.

I am awed by the beauty of creation, the work of His hands. I witness the reflection of grace in the faces of Sweet William, my family, and friends. I experience the joy of salvation and the peace that passes understanding.

Oh, but I want to see more.

I read of Jesus’ transfiguration in the days when He walked with men, and for a few fleeting moments “the appearance of His face changed and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.”

Peter, James and John were there at this grand occasion. They had come to pray with Jesus, but as happened to them sometimes, as happens to me, they were very sleepy. Sleepy with the cares of life, the deceitfulness of possessions, the issues of the world, the images that vie for attention and crowd out the true heavenly visions.

“But when they became fully awake, they saw his glory . . . ”

And I pray,

Lord, let me come fully awake to Your presence all around me, the goodness of Your person, the love You pour out lavishly on me. Help me to know the love that surpasses knowledge that I might be filled to the measure of the all the fullness of God.

As Moses asked it of God. I ask it of Him too: Show me Your glory.

Sunday grace.

 

Spring fling

Spring weather just teased us as winter holds tight a little longer.

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The trees are flowered and daffodils have bloomed. I enjoyed it while it lasted. Now the mornings find me in my rocking chair with the gas logs burning to chase away the chill. I crack the window open when I can to hear the first bird sing. Whoever that little soloist is, he delights me. Soon joined by a chorus of birds, the woodland symphony captivates me as I  walk out to the deck, coffee in hand, snugly throw around my shoulders.

It’s Spring Forward weekend. I’ve already set all the clocks an hour ahead, and I wonder why “they” keep doing this to me. My internal clock is not so easily adjusted. I’ve set my alarm an hour early several days this week in an effort to trick myself so that in the morning I will not feel so sleep deprived.

A nap is in my future tomorrow.

Weather predictions can say what they want. Spring will come. It always does. The Creator planned it to be. And He is faithful and true.

With the season comes lent which is already in process. Those who practice it, their foreheads ashen marked, have determined some sort of fast during the forty days leading to Easter Sunday.

While my spiritual experience has not always included a season of lent, I see the value of preparing our hearts to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus. His victory over death is what separates Christianity from all other religions. We have reason to celebrate.

And we have reason to prepare our hearts. For Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of the world was no small event in the history of the world. From creation, all things led to it. And from the day of resurrection all things flow from it.

To remember is a command. Jesus told His disciples as He handed them bread and wine, “Do this in remembrance of me.” It is my commission also. Remember.

I shall not take His incarnate life, His death, and His triumph over the tomb for granted. This month I’ve been reading the Gospels, anticipating the last weeks of Jesus’ walk upon the earth He created. I don’t want the story to grow old or so familiar I lose sight of its majesty.

I will think on His teaching, the hard sayings that call for humility and courage.

I will wonder at His miracles of healing and forgiveness and will believe that they are still real in the 21st century.

I will ponder His suffering for my sake, to offer a redemptive price for my sins and the sins of the whole world.

What great love, what abounding mercy, what amazing grace.

Springtime offers the perfect picture. Death tries to hold on but it cannot. It lost the battle, and the grave was swallowed up. Life has come from the tomb because Jesus lives.

I am setting my heart toward recollection and reflection of this special season. I will call to mind the great things God has done for me and give Him thanks. I will pray that the Word will be fresh bread feeding my soul and that the Spirit will spring up as a fountain of refreshing.

And I will remember to worship the living Lord and Savior of my life.

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Sunday grace

She sat next to me at our table and asked with intense eyes that said she really wanted to know: “How can I pray for you?”

I could barely choke out the words, “Pray for endurance and strength.” It was all I could say. I’ve been weary in the well-doing.

Life can beat us up sometimes, knock us down and begin the count.

God sees and He knows what we need. He is the completely sufficient One who supplies all.

God gives us one another, a friend to halt the count long enough to jump in the fray and give us a helping hand so we can stand erect again.

Her sincere prayer at the end of our visit was enough to bring me to tears. I heard her call our names to our Father in Heaven, talking to Him as she would a friend. For she is a friend of God.

We need each other. God gives what God enjoys. Relationship.

On earth it is less than perfect with our personality conflicts and self-centered ways, but it is still the gift of One who provides for emotional needs as well as physical ones. He gives us each other.

For when one falls down, another can help her get up, dust off the dirt, bind up the wound, look into her eyes and say “You can make it with God’s strength. Let’s walk together for a while.”

Pity the one who has no one to help her up.

Strength for the journey sometimes comes through the hand and a prayer of a friend.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. — Galatians 6:9, NIV

Sunday grace.

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February ending

The topic of conversation in February has been the weather. It has been unusual to say the least. We had icy temperatures and days that felt on the verge of summer, breaking records as the sun shone on us warm and cheery. I saw someone cutting grass with a push mower. Really.

Flowers are blooming, trees are greening, birds are singing, and it feels like mid-March not the end of February. It was glorious, though strange, as if something is up. Makes me wonder what will be next.

The geese in the lake across the road paired up and felt frisky. Maisie and I were entertained during our walks as the males dominated and tested each other. Let’s just say there was a whole lot of honking going on. There is one lone goose among the several pairs. I read that Canadian geese are monogamous, staying with the same mate for life. I felt sad for the single goose, wondering what happened to his gander, hoping that another single one would come along and they would find each other.

I spotted two hawks in the back of the house where the little woods are. They are a rare treat. Whenever I see them, I stop what I’m doing and just watch until they fly out of sight. I’m really hoping for some nestlings right in my back yard this year.

Sweet William and I hosted a Cousins Lunch here at the Wright House. We have become the “older generation” now, all of us baby boomers. It was a fun and entertaining afternoon. We are strong-willed, opinionated and not afraid to express ourselves. At the same time we share core values we hold dear, fundamentals, like our faith in Christ. Plus we are all good cooks.

We celebrated Maisie’s one year adoption anniversary by having her teeth cleaned, shots renewed and a few test and an exam. Now that I think of it, that wasn’t much fun for her. After we picked her up from the vet, she was wiped out for the rest of the day. Bless her heart.

I’ve not finished many books this month, probably because I’m reading too many at one time. I tend to do that, having one devotional book for early mornings, an easy novel at bedtime, and another to pick up at odd times during the day. I don’t know why I do that. I read recently of one blogger who is trying to read one book at a time, instead of several like me. I probably need to try that myself.

I had the distinct privilege of reading to some delightful kindergartners and second graders at a local school. The librarian invited a number of guest readers that week. The librarian is a younger friend of mine. My first memory of her was when she came with her her mother to bring the older sister to my house for piano lessons. My friend was just a young child, her long, dark, pony tail bobby along. Our paths crossed over the years. She was in a youth group I worked with for awhile. Later I was her supervisor at the YMCA. Finally we were on the same level, adult to adult, and the fruit of friendship developed. When I think of the progression of this precious relationship, I am deeply grateful.

I got to hear Liz Curtis Higgs live spreading her gift of laughter. What a joy-filled person she is, her humor infectious. She lives life with a smile and a funny story. The evening was made all the better by having girlfriends alongside me.  I know Mrs. Higgs’ life is not all fun and games. She tells the sad and disappointing parts, but she looks for the grace and the blessing and sees the world through eyes of hope.

I had a couple of teen girls visit one Saturday afternoon. We ate Pizza and had cookies and ice cream for dessert. It was a delightful couple of hours, our words flowing back and forth, around and around. The young women are intelligent, articulate, caring, and respectful. My hope for this generation bumped up a few points after spending time with them.

Sweet William and I finished a few small projects during the month. Some of them have been languishing for much too long. We needed to set our minds to the task and just do it. So we did, and then I wondered why we let them go all those months.

I began memorizing Scripture in earnest with a friend, us holding each other accountable and spurring one another onward. I’ve not been so diligent about memorization since I was in children’s church and prizes were given for it.  I wasn’t even sure my brain could do it at this age. But I am doing it. What is even more surprising is what a rich and rewarding experience it is. As the Word is truly hidden in my heart, it comes forth in a fresh and meaningful way.

In the middle of February I remembered the anniversary of my mother’s death and was staggered to realize I’ve lived half of my life without her. When she died at 62 years old, I thought it was too soon for her to leave us and I didn’t know how I would live without her. But I did. I lived and grew and stretched and learned to depend on God even more. He is sovereign and I will never fully comprehend His ways. There comes a time when I have to stop trying to understand and simply trust His purpose, His wisdom, His goodness.

February has never been one of my favorite months. It is sandwiched between the month of new beginnings and the month of spring. But this year, February offered so many good things to me. It’s probably been like that every February, but this year I had eyes to behold them a little clearer.

Oh that I may have such clarity every day of the year.

 

 

Sunday grace

After days of warm sunshine on my face and the wonder of an early spring, I am greeted with ice crystals and chilly breath clouds as Maisie and I walk in the early morning.

Such is life.

We receive blessing after blessing from God who gives grace upon grace.  Yet the chill of winter’s grasp pulls us to reality. We are not in Eden anymore. There are still mountains to climb, dark valleys in which to walk, trials to endure, temptations to avoid.

Still, the gifts abound in the middle of frosty days and long, uncertain nights.

This morning I am thankful.

For a warm hat, scarf, coat and gloves as I open the door and face the cold.

For gas logs that quickly warm the morning haven of home.

For strong coffee with half and half cream.

For a hot pad at my back to ease away the aches.

For Sweet William, my one and only, sitting in the rocker next to mine.

For little girl Maisie, with us almost a year now, learning obedience step by step.

For daffodils from my yard gracing our table this week.

For home filled with familiar things accumulated through our years together.

For family gathered at our table this week and for friends who feel like family.

For prayer that reaches Heaven being only a breath away.

For the daily dose of Scripture that gives me courage and turns my eyes to the Savior.

For the Word hidden in my heart that cannot be taken away.

For grace boundless and mercies new each day.

For assurance that winter lasts for a season and then comes spring.

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Sunday grace.