Sunday grace

Plans for the New Year. Plans for January. Plans for today.

I make them and work at them and sometimes accomplish them. But often “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men” and me, crumble like a stale cookie.

I openly say it. Often. Out loud. “I don’t understand Your ways.”

My only recourse, my only peace lies in trusting the Great Planner, the One from everlasting to everlasting who knows no beginning nor ending. His plans are sure for they are in His eternal mind.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” — Proverbs 19:21 NIV

Rest weary soul from the futility of worry about the future, about today. God is working all things according to His purpose.

It shall be done, and all is well. All shall be well.

Sunday grace.

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The wedding

The couple is young, but there is a depth in them not often seen in their age group.

I met her through a mutual grief. Death often draws people together. I shared my own devastation at my mother’s death when I was in my thirties. She was in her twenties when it happened to her.

We had breakfasts and lunches and did lots of talking, as women do, in between bites of food and tear drops. We came to call each other friend.

I had the privilege of being part of her wedding through my gift of music.

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I’ve sat on many a piano and organ bench during my musical life, watching from the sidelines as a couple promises with all their hearts to keep the vows spoken. I believe they mean those words at the moment. Too often I have seen those words fall and shatter into tiny pieces as troubles and trials and all manner of life situations bombard the two who were meant to be one.

It happens and I cast no stones, because I live in a delicate glass house that at one time almost fragmented into a million pieces.

My young friend’s wedding was a sacred event. From the songs chosen to the intentional sharing of a new family Bible, the service was planned with care and with the desires of a husband and wife who want to be all God has planned for them.

I look forward to watching this young couple grow in love and acceptance of each other. And I anticipate seeing them be vessels of God as He points them in His direction and fills them with Himself.

Their lives at this moment are a beautiful thing to behold.

But lest we see things with only rose-colored glasses, there will be challenges. They will feel like they have hit a wall sometimes. They will not always experience the euphoria of “being madly in love” as they did on that special wedding day.

Such is the way of a man and a woman joined together in holy matrimony. What draws one to the other is a mystery of sorts, but what keeps them together is grace. God’s tender mercies and everlasting love do what is not humanly possible.

He designs for iron to sharpen iron and never were there so many sparks as in a marriage. We learn to be patient with one another’s idiosyncrasies and personality bents. We adjust our standards of orderliness and punctuality, of being the life of the party and the need for alone time.

We learn to speak the truth in love, to ask to be forgiven and to forgive in return. We decide to pick our battles and then fight the good fight, not tearing at the heart of the one we are called to love but attacking the problem.

And we are called to love. Love is that action word that keeps demanding much of us when the cozy, fuzzy sensations wane and the “I just don’t love him anymore”  non-affection surfaces.

That is not the time to give up and give in. No.  NO.  NO!  Do. Not. Give. Up. 

Studies show if couples will stick it out when the marriage looks lost, the feelings can and often do return. Ask those who have celebrated those 30, 40, 50 plus years of marriage if they are glad they didn’t throw in the towel when the towel was dirty and smelly and full of holes.

I for one will say, “Yes, I’m glad we did not give up.”

God uses a spouse to make us better in so many ways. I could list them, but let your own ideas develop in your mind. The rough edges of who we are rub like sandpaper until those places begin to smooth out little by little. It’s irritating to say the least and often painful in the truest sense.

I’ve not really liked the process, but I am thankful for the results.

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Sweet William and I celebrate 45 years of marriage today. They have been hard-fought and grace-filled years. There have been joyous and gut-wrenching seasons. We’ve been healthy, strong, able to take on the world together. We’ve been sick, weak, desperate for relief. We have laughed together and cried together. We have questioned and wondered and grieved together. We have rejoiced at births and wept at gravesides together. We have attended church, Bible studies, and counseling together. We have built strong walls and torn down barriers together. We have climbed tall mountains that looked impossible and walked through valleys of lush green and still waters together.

We have prayed together.

The key word here is “together.” We are still together. Thanks be to God for His amazing grace and His gift of enduring love. I’m so glad He did not give up on us when we would have given up except for His mercies.

We are together until death shall part us.

Steven Curtis Chapman sings it for us and for you who are still together.

The grey days

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The greyness of the winter days stretch long. Though I know by fact that the nights are getting shorter this time of year, it seems an act of faith to believe it.

I saw someone’s Facebook post yesterday: “Anyone needing a little sunshine?” I responded with a “like” when what I really wanted to do was shout, “YES, I need the sunshine!”

It happens each January. The festive season passes, and we are left withthe winter of despair” while we longingly wait for “the spring of hope.”

I should not be bewildered that history repeats itself and seasons come and go as naturally as night turns to day. But sometimes the short winter day can feel long when the sun does not appear.

Such is life. It is the waxing and waning of delight and pleasure versus the bitter and despondency that exists in our world. Somewhat like the moon. There are nights I see it brilliantly in its fullness or as a crescent sliver. At times it disappears altogether, being a new moon or a cloudy night.

Fact says the moon and sun are both still in the sky rotating as they have since creation day when the Creator set their courses and determined their orbit. Whether I see them with my eyes or not, they remain.

There is a confident knowing of this same Creator who also sets my course and determines my days, whether they be tinged with grey or absorbed in brightness.

It is just a season. And seasons change. Happiness is circumstantial. Joy is a deep resevoir within the heart of one who knows.

I know that my Redeemer lives, just as Job knew, despite our trials and tests. We walk through our own grey days while looking for the dancing sunbeams.

As I went to the bedroom to open blinds, I saw the light blinking through. It was the sun. I pulled up the blinds and saw it there in the sky, blue hues peaking through the clouds. It lasted only about an hour before soft ashen clouds covered the horizon.

But I have seen replendent light once again. And hope rises.

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Sunday grace

I’m reading the book of Proverbs during January, a chapter for each day of the month.

The book is occupied with wisdom for daily living, for planning for the future, for viewing the world, for living a full and blessed life. It has much to say about words and the mouth I use to speak them.

How easily phrases and sentences leave the gateway of my mouth, and how quickly they make a mark on those who hear them. My words carry weight. They can pierce like a sword, wound and cause pain.

My words can lift the spirit of the down trodden and bring healing to the sick in spirit.

I choose the expressions and intonation, though sometimes I excuse myself when the utterances fly off the tongue too quickly without thought or consideration. And the damage is done.

If I desire to do good and show mercy, what of the thoughts and meditations of my heart? It is from the heart the mouth speaks.

So search me thoroughly, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

 And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24 AMP)

The wise woman builds her house with the fruit of her lips from a heart that has been purified by grace.

Sunday grace.

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Using the gifts

Sweet William and I attended a wedding today. Guests brought gifts for the young couple to help them begin their lives together. Their journey of two becoming one will be a challenge, and they can use a little help as they begin.

We all wish them the very best and hope what we gave them is useful. Gift cards will be welcomed as the wedded couple purchase exactly what they need.

Don’t we all love receiving gifts? There’s a thrill in seeing a brightly wrapped package or pretty gift bag that is meant just for me. I enjoy the anticipation of wondering what is inside. More than anything I appreciate that someone cared enough to go to the effort and expense of getting something he/she thought I would like, find useful, and consider beautiful.

God gives gifts to each person, talents and skills to be used to help us on this journey of life. They are to be shared and to be a blessing to others as well.

 Kelly Minter, author, speaker, and musician, thoughtfully presents a new year’s opportunity to refine our God-ordained gifts. Wouldn’t that idea help me focus myself in the coming year? Instead of spreading myself thin in lots of areas, I might concentrate on a few strengths, hone my skill set, and use my spiritual gifts for the building up of the body of Christ.

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I think it is one of the best ideas I’ve heard yet for my goal setting in 2017 (and yes, I’m still working on that). I will let these thoughts swirl around in my mind and see where the Spirit leads.

Will you join me here to read Kelly’s blog?

 

Snow Day

Yesterday afternoon my piano students were excited about the possibility of a snow day. They had only been back to school two days since the Christmas holiday.

Before the evening was over, I got into their spirit of anticipation.

Early this morning, I looked out the window to see if any flakes were falling from the sky. Not yet. I turned on the local news and weather, and to my surprise schools were already canceled in the surrounding counties. This is some kind of prediction.

At about 7:30 am, the deck began to turn white. Maisie and I donned our warm coats and headed out into the beginnings of a ground cover. I wondered what she would do with snow. We welcomed Maisie to our home last March, and while snow may not be new to her, it would be a something for us to experience together for the first time.

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She sniffed at it but there really wasn’t enough yet to stir her curiosity. As snow accumulated, she ran and nosed it and seemed to enjoy the white stuff.

A snow day is like a surprise, free 24 hours, if you happen to be a school student or a teacher. For the road workers, it may be the busiest day of their week.

My home piano students were scheduled to resume lessons today after having the month of December off. I canceled those activities and settled in here at the Wright House. The snow day is a present to be opened and savored.

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I can use it to catch up on reading my current book, Beth Moore’s first novel, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus.  I could clean out a few more drawers or closets, that on-going January ritual of mine. I may put a pot of vegetable soup on to simmer.

I will most likely practice the piano since there is a wedding coming soon. I will drink another cup of coffee or perhaps some hot chocolate as Sweet William and I watch the grey sky full of flurries. Maybe I’ll take a nap.

When I really consider it, each day is a gift. God presents us a fresh beginning every 24 hours. We can use it for good, we can rest in it, or we can waste it if we are not careful.

The freedom to choose how I spend the next precious hours of my life comes from the Father who knows how to give good things to His children.

I think of Moses’ wise counsel often: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) .

Wisdom is the thing. I want more wisdom. I need more wisdom. I want to use discretion and be discerning in how I live this wonderful, wild life I’ve been given. I want to be prudent in how I treat others, in the words I say, and the way I live out my purpose.

Numbering my days, keeping aware of its brevity and my mortality, seems to be a key to wisdom. Looking to God and His Word for the plan and following Him will be the way to invest my days. Then perhaps, this will be a life well spent.

Today is a snow day. Taste it, experience the joy of opening the gift.

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Sunday grace 2017

It is a new year, a fresh start, a chance to begin again. Like writing on a clean page in a just-purchased notebook.

Through the years I’ve listed a hundred goals to accomplish. I’ve made categories and carefully organized each one. I planned to accomplish each and every one.

In the spiritual category, I wanted to put God first in my life. It was the right thing to do. Seek ye first and all that.

Surrender is not my strong suit though my heart wants His will and His way. Truly it does. But failure has found me too many times.

While I say I want Jesus to lead and me to follow, for Him to be the King on the throne of my heart, I don’t always live it out exactly like that.

He should be the Maestro of the orchestra of my life, yet sometimes I’ve barely given Him an instrument to play.

And the melody quickly goes off-key.

Here it is another year, and so I pray this prayer once more:

O God of the second chance and new beginnings, it’s me again.

Sunday grace.

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