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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.

 

Christmas grace

I remember becoming engaged. The excitement of it. Showing off the ring. Gathering my trousseau. Conversations with my mother that only women understand. The look on Sweet William’s face.

It was a time of anticipation, and my dream of becoming a wife and then later a mother was coming true. And that is what I had wanted since I was a little girl playing with my dolls and setting up my pretend house.

Did Mary feel the same?

Matthew 1:13 tell us Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph.

Her situation was similar yet different. In first century A.D. marriages were arranged by the parents. Mary didn’t get to “fall in love” or “find her soul mate.”  A contract was drawn up and covenant confirmed by both families. It was done.

Marriage was the hoped for dream of a young Jewish woman, to have a husband to take care of her and provide a home for her. And they would pray for children. Mary would expect to bear a child.

Neither Mary nor I had any idea what the future would bring.

None of us ever do. We dream, make plans, follow through with our promises, and begin walking out the life we hoped for, the perfect little white cottage with the picket fence and a life of happiness.

The unfolding of our days never plays out exactly like that.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.”
This is the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth,
so My ways are higher than your ways, “

God’s plan is so much loftier, elevated, immense, huge. It is deeper than we can fathom. It is wider than our minds can comprehend

Mary expected a normal Jewish life, the way she had seen it lived out in her mother, her aunts, and the women of her community.

But God had grander things in His infinite mind. Plans that would take Mary on a journey she never could have imagined. Plans that would embrace a world in need of a Savior.

God’s plans for me have been surprising, unexpected, even unwelcome by my limited viewpoint. While I hoped for a flower-strewn pathway, the road has often been rough and rocky, an uphill climb, a test of endurance.

I am comforted by the promises made to Mary by the angel Gabriel.

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. . . . 
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.

Like Mary, God tells me not to be afraid. He says I am loved and cherished. He promises the Holy Spirit will be with me and in me, to comfort, guide, and teach. I have assurance that nothing is impossible with God and that He is faithful to His promises.

Can I respond to the mystery of the unknown like Mary did?

“Behold,I am the servant of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”

I want to. I bow my face before a Holy God in surrender to His will and His plan for the rest of my wild and wonderful life.

And this is my assurance and consolation, that we will walk together.

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On this day of giving thanks

It’s early morning. Gentle winds blow the chimes on my deck and I hear music.

The house is quiet except for the popping of the gas longs. The window close to where I sit is open slightly. Even outside there is a stillness on this Thanksgiving Day.

My house is full, all beds and some couches nestling warm bodies in sleep. Three dogs still doze in the darkness of the yet unbroken new day.

I am thankful they are all here, all snuggled in, us together on this special occasion. I have been broken and grief-stricken on other holidays throughout my life time. Death and distance can wreck havoc on a heart.

But today, loved ones are here. And for that I am filled full with joy and gratitude.

I have not always been thankful in all my circumstances. In the dark place of the not knowing, in the wondering how good can come from my trial and my pain, in my own house of self-pity, I have been doubtful and fragmented.

I have coddled my misery too much and sat in my despair too long.

Life is not always an easy, flower-strewn pathway. It is often rocky and rough, the climb steep and foreboding, the night dark and long. We work muscles, reach for every ounce of strength, and learn endurance as we press on to the new dawning and the green pastures in our vision.

For there is always the hope of God’s Presence, His Word of promise of His never-forsaking love for us. He is our Immanuel, the with us God. We do not have to do this life on our own.

He calls me to a mature mentality of praise and thanksgiving, even in the hardest of circumstances. Even when loved ones are not gathered around a table. Even when death takes one held so dear. Even when pain is my companion.

He calls forth hope in Himself, asking me to focus my gaze on His beauty, to see glory, to see everlasting love, to remember His faithfulness always.

This is His will in Christ Jesus, to give thanks in all circumstances, to see Him in every situation, One who is working all things for my good, One who is redeeming every heartache and disappointment, One who is planning on bringing beauty out of my ashes.

He is a good and loving Savior who makes all things new. He mends our brokeness, filling us with Himself and shining through the cracks of our humanity so that the world may see Him in us, His children.

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever.  — Psalm 118:1

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Second Tuesday in November

Today is election day in the United States of America. It seems we have not been particularly united of late.

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I woke with the thoughts of campaigns ending, the circus it has all been finally leaving town. And the Spirit sings to me, “Our God is in control.”

As I sit in my rocker in the pre-dawn hours, coffee and Bible in hand, I pray for my country, sweet land of liberty, land that I love. Today marks a day of changes, no matter how the pendulum swings.

Sweet William and I went early to the polls to cast our ballots. The parking lot was full and people waited in line to vote. I hope that is an indication that we care about the election outcome, that we are willing to be responsible citizens, that the invasion of lethargy and hopelessness has not won a battle.

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No matter what tomorrow’s result, I know this one thing for certain: My God is in control.

An old refrain echos the same, “I don’t know who holds tomorrow, but I know who holds my hand.”

And still another melody from my childhood offers comfort,

“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word. Just to rest upon His promise, just to know ‘Thus saith the Lord’.”

Today I will hope in the Lord. His Truth still marches on.

Today I will trust in Jesus. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.

Today I will sing and rejoice in my salvation with thanksgiving, for this is God’s will for me.

Today I will choose joy no matter the outcome.

Because my God is in control.

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Five years

Breakfast finished and enticed by the clouds moving in, I went to the back deck to sit and watch the promised rain finally arrive this morning, bringing cool breezes. It’s what I’ve been waiting for all week.

As I sit and listen to the raindrops on wood, leaves, and grass, the wind sways the tall branches of trees in our little woods behind the house. It’s a sight I never tire of seeing. The wind blows and the branches give way to its power.

I’ve been blown about and moved by the power. The power of circumstances and illness. The power of emotion and disappointment. The power of love and forgiveness. And the power of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling.

Sometimes rain is a welcome relief of dryness and heat. Sometimes it is reminiscent of tears and sorrow of soul. The rain is both to me this morning.

Facebook’s ability to “never let me miss a memory” reminded me what happened this time five years ago. As if I needed its reminder. This week was the fifth anniversary of the day our family next door moved away. I don’t need to look in the 2011 journal to remember the gut-wrenching emotions I felt as the big yellow moving truck pulled out of the lane. I recall the last wave and tearful smile from the grand boy who was only nine. I feel the long hugs and how we all tried to be brave. They were facing the unknown and the challenges of a new location. We were facing the unknown also and an empty house next door.

It was a hard day. A long, dry season.

I looked at pictures captured the last week before they all packed up and left. Sweet William and I spent a lot of time with the grandchildren trying to build memories and pour ourselves into those precious young lives. I wanted them to be filled up with our love. I wanted them to remember it when they hit some hard, dry seasons themselves.

There were lots of smiles in those pictures, us trying to ignore what was coming and live in the present of each other. Nothing else really matter that week except spending time together.

I can barely believe it has been five years now. The house next door stood empty for almost a year. Then two sets of renters moved in and moved out. Two years ago a young couple, her great with child, bought the house and came to stay. They have been a gift to us, their growing toddler calling us Aunt Peggy and Uncle Bill, their warmth and friendliness, their love and kindness more than we expected.

I have adjusted to another family living in the house next door. I have adjusted to having my dear ones living so far away. I have adjusted to us being the lone couple at family gatherings and no grandchildren to play with the cousins.

I have adjusted, but tears still threaten to fill my eyes.

A lot has happened in five years. I used to look from my back deck and wave to grandchildren heading out to play in their back yard. I heard their “Hi Grammy,” as they waved back at me. Now the meadow has grown to a woods and I barely see the back yard next door.

Sweet William and I endured three years of hospitalizations and too many surgeries, suffering and questions that were not answered. We are on the other side of the physical problems, but it changed us in uncommon ways.

My 91-year-old father died during the five years, then my step-mother three years later, leaving me feeling a little like an orphan, on my own now for sure. Mother’s and Father’s Days lack the luster it did before.

I retired from a position I loved, working with people who were friends. I knew my role as care-giver would increase, as it has.

We’ve traveled to visit our dear ones, but not nearly enough for me. I’ve missed so many birthdays and holiday celebrations with them.

When we do get to see each other, the time is precious. Whenever they say they are coming, I try to clear my schedule, freshen bedrooms, and cook up a storm. I want them to be at home, to feel absolutely welcome, and to enjoy their visit. When being together is rare, the measured occassion becomes a treasured jewel.

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Good-byes are still hard, even after we have practiced saying them so often. I always find something left behind. And I suppose that gives me hope of their return.

For reasons beyond me and held within the secret plans of a Sovereign God, we live apart from one another. He watches over them as He watches over us. More than ever our prayers seem very significant. They are our connection. They create a triangle: them, us, and God. He holds us all, and His hand is strong.

I’ve learned to trust God more during the five years. Trust when I cannot see the purpose. Trust when I don’t know what is going on. Trust when my tears are my food all day long. Trust when I am fearful. Trust when I can do nothing to change any of it.

My Lord is faithful and worthy of trust. His plans have purpose. He is the One who began the good work in each one, and He will complete it in His time.

The clouds cover the the blue this morning. Grey moves across the sky. Rain is here for a while, washing away the dust, watering the ground and the gardens, soothing my soul, mimicking my tears. It’s what I needed today.

Sunday grace

The cool morning of a July day is surprising. It delights while it lasts.

The day will unfold, us not knowing what it will bring. In the next hour, the next minute.

Nothing stays the same. Earth shifts. Seasons come and then go. Birth and death are always moving in tandem.

One phone call, one decision, one word changes the landscape of the journey.

What are we to do when the unexpected turns us in a different direction? How do we navigate from this new position?

Trusting God’s faithfulness is the only way to walk in confidence. Knowing He is in control, that He is good and strong and loving.

Holding on to the unchanging promises, resting in His unfathomable love, turning our eyes toward the beauty of His countenance. It is the way of peace.

Great is His faithfulness. Great is His grace.

Sunday grace.

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A matter of perspective

It’s been a little random here at the Wright House.

Monday a fence was installed in the back yard for our Little Girl Maisie. It’s a beautiful thing and will give her a place to run some of that amazing energy contained in her small frame.

I came in to prepare supper and the pan I reached for under the sink was full of water. Other things stored there were also full.  The floor of the lower cabinet was soaked and sloping, the pressed wood giving way to the weight of pots and pans.  I began to pull things out. This is not the first time for a leak under the sink.  And each time it just about pushes me over the edge a little bit more.

Sweet William called for help, and his good brother responded to our S.O.S.  Still it would be a few days of all things stored underneath now sitting on table tops and counters. And the fan runs insistently under the cabinet.  Cooking will be minimal and clean up a pain.

In addition to that, I’ve been dealing with something I can’t quite explain, like low-grade anxiety. Several factors and life situations could be contributing.  One more was added with the kitchen situation. When lots of big and little things pile up, I begin to feel weighed down, drowning in it all, looking for a life preserver.

Times like this I go back and read old journals to find out what was happening last year, two years ago or more.  I suppose I am hoping to find some pattern or perhaps a different angle that will help me.

This morning I went to an earlier year and read the months of May to July.  I came upon an entry that brought me to tears just like it did that very year.

I was troubled and weighed down- again – with heartbreak and illness bearing down on my soul. Feelings were raw  Seclusion was my established self-protection. I wondered what, why, how long.

My journal entry recorded that I received an email from a sweet young friend who was serving the Lord with her husband in a far away land.  She wrote that she had been awakened in the middle of the night several times to pray for us.

Her night was my day, the time when I carried my sorrow, cried my tears, and wondered where my God was. She counted it a privilege to be awakened and to pray for someone on the other side of the globe. Her words of encouragement and precious Scripture promises brought more tears, but this time they were tears of wonder and thanksgiving that the Father whom we both serve united us through His Spirit, prayer and email.

And why is it that a God who cannot be contained in the highest of heavens or the depths of the earth would be concerned about me and my piddling problems? Why does He focus on this blue and green planet, so small in the universe? I don’t know how or why, and yet I know I am dear to His heart.

While I was wondering where He was in my pain those few years ago, He was waking my friend in the middle of the night to pray for me. And her email arrived at just the time I was in my deep despair, the very time I needed to hear from someone, somewhere.

So often I need a change in perspective. Looking at life differently. Seeing the big picture along with the small details.

Today’s challenges and problems can engulf my vision until I have no sight for the beauty around me, for the kindness of friends and a brother-in-law who comes when we are needy, for the bounty of good things God supplies in various and wonderous ways.

I ask for forgiveness and eyes to see, for wisdom to understand that God’s heart is always for me even when circumstances seem to be against me. Perhaps I will learn one of these days that no matter what I face today, my Lord will be a strong tower of defense, a shelter in my storm, a light at the end of my tunnel, a breath of fresh air in my devastation.

He is a good God. He knows when I cry and He brings relief.  He is not far away or unconcerned. He is near and faithfully working all things – All Things – for my good and for His glory.

May it be so that He is glorified in it all.

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