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February begins

The origin of the word February is surprising to me. I’ve always simply thought of it as the month of love.

With the advent of Valentines Day, merchants discovered another way to entice us to spend money, reds and pinks showing up in stores early last month. Cards to honor the day of hearts and flowers flood the isles, and TV commercials encourage us to make diamonds the proof of undying affection.

But what if . . .  what if we really did practice a little more love during February? Not the gushy, mushy vaporous emotions or the once-a-year expensive gifts that last but a little while before they are forgotten and we move on to other “more important” endeavors.

What if we tried scattering a little more kindness this month, without it turning into a spending spree or a guilt trip? What if we gave out of the abundance of our hearts, out of the grace we have been given?

We take on the character of God when we become givers. God gave. God gives. God will give eternally.

“What if the truth is every tremor of kindness here erupts in a miracle elsewhere in the world?” — Ann Voskamp,  The Broken Way

Chapter 5 of Ann’s new book, a gift from a friend, ignites something this morning as I read about her and her children leaving unexpected gifts all over the city, creating smiles and joy in their wake.

One of the dots on my Bucket List is “Always be kind.” I wish that just writing that down and marking it a priority made it always be true in my every day. It isn’t. I need a reminder. Often.

Scatter Kindness 8x10 Canvas Quote[purchase the canvas at this Etsy shop]

So I am challenging myself to Scatter Kindness in February, to find unusual and unexpected ways of giving to others out of my own abundance. Thoughts, ideas already drift in my head. I would gladly bring a few more smiles to the faces I encounter regularly and those who just happen along my pathway.

This month, February, I will make it my goal to Scatter Kindness, to Sweet William first for his is the face I see most often and the one I can so easily take for granted. I will endeavor to Scatter Kindness to those I know and to those I don’t, to the ones in my circle of  influence and to those I may pass only once in this life.

It will be challenging because I am too often self-centered. Perhaps the focus on others will alleviate my struggle for a while. At least for the next 28 days.

And like the dandelion fluff I’ve scattered with my breath on scores of summer days, perhaps one seed will take root in another heart. Perhaps Scattering Kindness will grow and flourish in someone else.

This morning’s radiance splashes pinks and oranges in the sky from my eastern window. The Spirit whispers, “I love you. This is for you.”

The world is chaotic and dysfunctional. I cannot fix it or make people happy. But I can show them they are loved by simple, kind deeds. And “no matter what anyone’s saying, everyone is just asking if they can be loved.”*

February could turn into a bountiful opportunity to show God’s love through small acts of kindness. There is the chance it could change me and my little corner of the world.

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* Quote from The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp

February waning

The end of the month is close at hand.  Except this year we get an extra day.

It sounds good in theory, like being handed 24 more hours to enjoy.  But I expect most of us already have plans laid out for February 29, and it will be just another day in our lives.

But what if . . . what if you were given 24 more hours to spend wildly in some unplanned way, uncommitted, unstructured to the minute?  Not the way we usually do life.

What would you do with that time?  What would I?

Perhaps get one of those 2016 projects completed, or at least started.  Maybe organize the pantry or the garage or the walk-in closet.  Maybe veg out on a movie marathon day, i.e. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or any number of serial flicks.  Maybe shop ’til you drop or prepare your taxes.

Would we work or play?

What if . . . we spent a day in retreat?  What if . . . we spent a day in silence?  What if . . . we looked deep inside ourselves and reflected our heart against the backdrop of Scripture?

I tried a day of retreat years ago.  Such a day is hard to come by because there are people around who need me.  Or so I think.

Maybe I could take half a day or a quarter of a day, or even a few hours spent intentionally in God’s Word, in prayer and meditation, journaling my swirling thoughts and somehow make some sense of what troubles me.

Because you see, there are things that trouble me.  I don’t share them freely.  They are in the deepest parts of my soul, the secret place of my heart.

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’ “

My secret thoughts and worries are safest when brought to the secret place of the Most High God.  It is an ascended place of rest, above the noises and voices of the world, out of reach of what troubles me.

In the secret place of God I find refuge and peace.  My deepest secrets are safe with Him.  And He knows what I need before I even ask.

Perhaps it is impossible at this late date to schedule the last day of February or even hours of uninterrupted quiet time, away from the fray of this world.

But I could get up an hour earlier on the 29th.  I could steal away during the lunch break.  I could take a leisurely walk down my lane.  I could find the time if I really want to.

And I want to.  How about you?

winter 11photo by Elena Walls

February’s Sunday Grace

A new beginning.  Again.  Each day, each month, each year.

God gives second chances again and again and again.

Oh God of the second chance, it’s me . . . again.

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His love is more sure than the sun coming up each morning and going down in the evening.

His love is more certain than the changing seasons.

His love is more real than my Sweet William’s smile.

His love is more lasting than this world and all it’s beauty.

His love.

There is nothing else like it.

I will soak in it today and throughout the month of love.

And when February is over, His love will go on . . .

Forever.

Sunday grace, friends.

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Leaving February

 

I enjoyed the month of February with all its talk and posts about love. It gave me a chance remember important people in my life.

Then there was the sermon series, “Navigating the Storms of Life,” at Little Flock that got my attention and resonated with truth each Sunday. I found myself heading into a storm on February 15 when my Sweet William was suddenly thrust into open-heart surgery.

Now at the end of the month, I’m beginning to see some of the clouds disperse and a patch of blue sky peeking through. I guess that means I’m coming out of a storm. At least for now.

I was having a Facebook conversation last evening. You know the kind I mean. I type out my message, send it, then wait for a reply. It is a slow way to talk.

My FB friend is in the middle of a tornado-like storm, the warning sirens at full blast. It won’t be over for a while. All I can do is stay close, pray for her, and offer encouragement when I can.

I told her I have found that God speaks to me more clearly during the darkest of days, the hard roads, the tear-streaked seasons of my life. He seems nearer at those times, probably because I seek Him more often, praying without ceasing just to make it through the next hour. Perhaps my ears are more prone to listening to His words when I am broken and bruised.

Honestly, when I look back to those stormy seasons, I realize my faith grew. When I had nothing but God, I found that He was more than enough.

It helps me look with hopeful expectation toward the future. I can enjoy the clear-sky days. But I can also face the storm clouds that gather without fear. I have tested and found Him to be faithful, near and dear in the valley of the shadow as well as on top of the sun-shiny mountains.

So I bid February farewell. I will not pass this way again. But I will look back and see God’s hand written all over it.

To my valentine

 

I remember catching you look at me when you thought I wasn’t looking.  But I was.

I remember when you asked me out, hesitant that I might say no.  I didn’t.

I remember when you first reached for my hand and how it felt encircled in yours.

I remember the first tender kiss by the gate.

I remember falling in love with you and never quite recovering from it.

I remember waiting for your call and hoping it would last awhile. 

I remember walking down the isle and having eyes only for you.

I remember the newlywed days that were replaced with the young parent days that were replaced with real life days.

I remember the struggles, the tears, the pain, the laughter, the joy.

I remember when it all began to fall apart, and we were afraid.

I remember how God gave us a second chance when no one else did.

I remember how our love bloomed again and became a bouquet I never thought possible.

Now it is today.  And I love you more than I did when I first remembered.

 

 

A good hair day

 

During the month of February, I’ve been talking about love.  One thing I love is having a good hair day.

All the staff at Little Flock were scheduled to have their photos taken this week for the church’s website. I was tempted to pray for a good hair day.  The new photograph will replace the one I had taken several years ago which I thought was a pretty good picture of me. So why do we have to mess with what isn’t broken?  Because staff members have changed since that photo session.  I understand the objective of having the correct pictures on the staff page of the website.  Plus, there does need to be a consistent look for all of us.

When I fixed my hair that morning it looked OK. But would last until 3:00, the time for the photo shoot.  And what about my outfit?  Does it look professional while saying, “I’m in the music department, and we have a great time.” I’m not sure if I chose the colors that will put my complexion and hair color in the best light. Let’s don’t even talk about the lines under my eyes. Hopefully, the morning puffiness will diminish a little before picture time and my eyeglasses will sit on my nose in a way that will conceal the lines.

Funny how much emphasis we women put on having a good hair day. If the hair isn’t right, it doesn’t matter whether the shoes coordinate with the purse, or if the jewelry is matching the colors of my outfit. A bad hair day can bring on a mood like a dark cloud brings the rain.

I’d be tempted to think this phenomenon is a girl-thing. But I remember a bad haircut my Sweet William got from a new stylist a few years ago. It really upset his apple cart. He had to have it redone by his regular barber before the week was out.

My goodness, I put a lot into looking good on the outside, spending my time and my hard-earned money. What if my insides showed on the outside? I don’t mean my internal organs; that would just be gross. I’m talking about my heart condition, the thoughts of my mind, my attitude. Now there’s a picture to consider.

The Bible succinctly says that man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). It makes me wonder how much I’m concealing with a little Cover Girl or Mary Kay.

I’m really glad only God sees the internal me. Hebrews 4:12 and 13 tells me God’s word judges the ideas and thoughts of my heart, that nothing is hidden from Him. In fact, it goes on to say “all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.”

Anyone have a few spare fig leaves?

I tremble at His Word. It makes me want to examine myself and see what He is seeing. I can’t hide under make-up, a great hair cut, a darling outfit, or cute shoes. He sees me as I really am.

The good news is He loves me anyway. And He is committed to the purpose of conforming me into the image of Jesus. That takes a heap of grace and the potential for a beautiful outcome.

By the way, I had a really good hair day on Friday. But there was not a camera in sight.