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A thankful journey

The nightly news is full of heartbreak, calamity, death, confusion. Sweet William and I feel the weight of tragedy in the world, in our communities, and among our own friends.

Digging a hole and burying our heads sometimes seems a viable option.

On the other hand, this is November, and I remind myself during this month especially to look for the light in the darkness. And so, I write out my blessings.

  • My piano students practicing to play difficult Christmas pieces and sounding good.
  • Attending Joy Group for the mature in body/young at heart and being welcomed by many.
  • Sitting at lunch with Karen and us chatting up a storm.
  • A meet-up with Amy at Panera Bread for coffee and a cranberry-orange muffin.
  • Lunch with Shirley, her flavorful potato soup, and the encouraging conversation.
  • Recital where my students were awesome!
  • Laughing and having fun with Helen as we visited a local craft fair.
  • Sweet William being sassy and fun, causing me to chuckle.
  • Time change and falling forward, enjoying that extra hour I’ve been waiting for since spring.
  • My granddaughter’s 17th birthday, pictures on Facebook of her opening the birthday box we sent, and her saying it was just what she wanted.
  • Grace to endure the distance and the miles between us.
  • K and M coming on their day off from school, talking, playing piano, making crafts, listening to music, them shedding their light all around.
  • Early prayer time with Julie who knows the highs and the lows of me like none other and loves me still.
  • Sweet Anna here to help me, her bringing her own brand of joy to us.

Life is hard, no doubt. There will always be trouble and problems. I could focus on that while despondency begins to wrap its bone-chilling arms around me.

Or I could pray for those in need, giving them to the God who is strong enough to carry the weight of the world on His shoulders, who knows what each person needs before I try to tell Him, who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all I can ask for or imagine.

Then I am free to count blessings and look for His gifts. Then I can rejoice and be very glad.

Guy Penrod sings Count Your Blessings.

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Sunday grace

 

101_1664It was a free day, nothing scheduled, a rare treat. So I filled it.

  • Wrote a note to a friend experiencing depression to assure her of my care and devotion.
  • Mailed a gift to a young couple who just moved to a new area, them trying to find their place and settle into home.
  • Baked cookies and took them to a teenager who is recovering from a serious accident.
  • Delivered dinner to a family in crises.
  • Visited a friend and brought a small mum as a love offering.

Turned out, it was a busy day with an added trip to the grocery store and library, And there are always meals to prepare and cleaned up at the Wright House.

By evening, I was tired but exhilarated. It was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time.

There were those years not so long ago when we were the ones in need, and people gave and gave. Back then I looked forward to the day when we could be the givers. Yesterday was one of those days. And it was joyous.

Grace we have received. Grace we will offer.

Sunday grace.

Monday grace

My devotional theme yesterday morning was about resting, and it took me to a familar passage, Psalm 23.

Sometimes things old and familiar can be common and ordinary if we are not careful.

I didn’t need to turn to the Psalm. I’ve known it by heart since a child, learned in Children’s Church when rewards were given for memorizing. Whatever works, and it worked for me.

As I quoted the verses by heart, I noticed afresh how they speak of resting.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I have all I need. I don’t have to concern myself with working for salvation or be consumed with the cares of life.

He makes me lie down. Why is it so hard to cease from our busy schedules and relax, be refreshed?

He leads me beside still waters. The rushing waters are beautiful and powerful, but the still waters invite me in to its gentle flowing.

He restores my soul. How I need this. Jesus tender touch on a weary brow, a heart that is broken, a soul that has drifted.

He leads me in paths of righteousness. This is His path, not one of my own making. His path is the right way.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Fear has torment and is the enemy’s tool. No matter the place I must go, my Shepherd is with me.  He is good and He is strong. He replaces anxiety with His very own peace.

Your rod and Your staff. Comforting tools of the shepherd are there to protect and guard, to guide and rescue.

You prepare a table for me. I love it when someone invites me over, prepares the food, and tells me to sit and enjoy. I am the pampered guest, and I feel loved.

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My cup runs over. Not “just enough” but more than enough. Christ’s love is everlasting, His mercies are ever new, His compassion fails not.

Goodness and mercy will follow me. I don’t have to chase them down and beg. They are pursuing me with the graciousness of my God.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord. Ah, here is the ultimate rest, to be absent from this body and present with my Lord. I am a member of the family and will make myself at home.

Because I will be Home. And nothing says rest to me like home.our house by Elyse

P.S. I took this Paslm to heart so much yesterday that I rested from from Sunday grace and technology.

 

 

 

Sunday grace

“In the body of Christ, how one person breathes affects the whole body,” writes Ann Voskamp in The Broken Way.

The final chapter, “Why You Don’t Have to Be Afraid to Be Broken,” is scrawled with underlines. I identify with so many of the words.

I feel a bit broken this morning. Broken by cares and concerns. Because the world is broken, and all the programs and politics and plans cannot fix it.  We are living in brokenness.

Through the night, I wake and breathe prayers for ones I love and hold dear. My first thought of the morning is the same.

Out my kitchen window lies the beauty in my back yard, so lush and fully green. I hear birds chirping and singing, the tiny wren with the biggest voice singing his heart out. Flowers in colors bold, and I am stunned at their offerings, how they keep coming back each year in spite of my sometimes neglect.

The earth was called forth, creation was completed and called “good.” And it was so very good. But something has happened to it, to us. Sin has wrecked havoc on the planet, on its citizens. And what are we to do?

We must share our brokenness, open the cracked heart and let each other in. Let the desperate cries of the wounded be heard as we acknowledge our own broken. For none of us are whole on our own. We hold each other up. We rejoice together and celebrate. We weep with another and grieve. We feel the pain when one of us is bruised.

We must seek with open hearts to model the One and only perfect man who came into our brokenness and was susceptible to it. He didn’t turn away from our mess but instead walked right up and embraced the leprous, the bleeding, the outcast, the demon possessed, the dead, the sinner.

He allowed Himself to be fully broken in full view, shamed and forsaken. And then He showed us His scars.

Can we be so vulnerable and share our scars, our pain? We must if we are to enter into the suffering of one another.  To have true fellowship and relationship, there must be an open heart reaching out to another open heart.

Put away the perceived perfections, stop pretending we have it all together. Because we don’t. We don’t.

It takes humility to admit I am broken and in need. And it will be grace that binds up my wounds with healing ointment. If I am willing, someone will be at my side, helping my woundedness heal. With tears in her own eyes, she will embrace me and say, “It’s OK. I’ve been there too.”

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

The temperature has warmed in February. We walk in the early Sabbath light, Maisie and me, a mist moistening our faces as we move forward and back.

The silence is broken by the singing of birds and an occasional soft honk of geese on the lake across from the house. The geese have disbanded their flock and are now couples swimming the water together, thinking about a family, if geese think such thoughts.

I’ve seen two hawks in the little woods behind us, them swooping and enjoying a freedom I can only imagine. I wonder if we might have the delight of a nest hidden in the trees soon.

Daffodil greens have pushed through winter soil, and this week crocuses caught me by surprise, them blooming by the front steps.

The maples are bulging on the ends of branches, the beginnings of spring seed pods and leaves.  The oaks still hold on to their dry brown leaves. They are like that, every winter not willing to turn loose until new growth pulsates and pushes them aside.

I wonder how many weeks before I put away the warm red hat and corduroy coat I wear to walk? When I will put my “Baby it’s cold outside”cup in the back of the cabinet until fall? How long before I pull out garden boots and tools to work the ground?

Can spring be far away, the season I love most of all? The one that holds promise of freshness, beauty, resurrection, eternity?

God is in His heaven. His dominion is over all. He rules with goodness and justice. He is faithful to His creation and His children.

His love is everlasting and His mercy endures throughout generations. I rest in His unchanging character while I watch the world transition from season to season.

Time marches on for me, the seasons of my life moving faster every year. How long before this clay vessel will be worn out?

God is timeless and He offers eternity to those who choose His love. Eternity. For me it will be ever springtime.

Sunday grace.

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The day after Christmas

Christmas-Ribbon-Tree

Wrapping paper and empty boxes fill trash containers. Toys and gifts are scattered through the house. We over-indulged on too many sweets and rich foods, and we declare that healthy eating begins today – after we eat up the leftovers, of course. There is still a week of school vacation left for children before the routine begins and we start a brand new year once again.

The day after Christmas finds me putting away the decorations and feeling relieved it’s over.

Some years I’ve just wanted it to be all over because of the heartache and disappointment I was dealing with. This year, I’ve experienced a deeper contentment, and I wonder if like the Apostle Paul I am finally learning to be content in all circumstances.

I have prayed for that. It must be an answer from my Heavenly Father who hears me and knows my heart like no other.

Some people choose a word for the coming year. I see it on blog posts as writers offer their choices and the reasons for them.

one-little-wordAliEdwards.com

I am considering doing that this year.

I’ve been a list maker and a goal writer in the past. In some recent years, I’ve not planned much because there was no way of knowing the direction the wind was blowing Sweet William and me. It was all I could do to hold onto the mast as the storm raged. I hoped I would not get thrown overboard.

I was in the school of Learning To Be Content.

I have given myself a gift this coming week, time to relax and reflect. I will put the house in order with an uncomplicated decor. I will start my organization throughout, checking closets and drawers and trying to turn loose of things. (I realize this is not relaxing to some, but for me it is exhilarating. I’m odd, I know.)

I will prepare my bullet journal for 2017 and make an effort to guard myself from being over committed. I will plan on Sabbath rest each week and a few minutes each day to stop, sit, and let my mind wander, probably with a cup of coffee in my hand.

I will seek the face of God to know His will as I walk out my days in 2017. I will ask to walk in power and confident trust, to see His glory in the miraculous and the every day. I will try to scatter kindness to those in my path.

The Christmas celebrations are over until next year. We are taking a collective sigh of relief as life returns to something we call “normal.”

baby jesus

As I make tentative goals and plans, one thing I want to do is keep celebrating Jesus in my heart every day.

Once a year the world remembers the Christ Child born in Bethlehem. Remembering is necessary. Celebrating is good. Honoring Him every day of our lives is what matters.

And who wouldn’t want to spend the remainder of life on what really matters?

Welcome 2017. My God holds you in His mighty hands. He is sovereign over all my days. I can trust Him for the future.

Rest.

Sunday grace

“Seek My face.” I hear the Spirit whisper the directive as the daily devotional book I read in the early morning points me to Psalm 105:4

Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! –ESV

His strength is what I need. A busy few days, maybe more than a few, leave me weary and spent. There is too much to do, too much stuff to contend with, too many obligations.

Give me strength, Lord! How many times have I prayed that prayer? I hoped for super-human powers to accomplish my plans, my goals, my intentions, my self-imposed complicated agenda.

His answer is “Seek My face. In My presence is the fullness of joy.”

And isn’t joy what I have chosen for this day, for this one wonderful life I’ve been given?

Joy comes when I seek the face of God in Christ Jesus, my hope and my salvation. Rest is waiting for me when I seek the Lord and His strength.  For when I seek the Lord more than I seek my own way, when I look at his beautiful face and behold His countenance of grace, I find rest and peace.

I am strengthened for the journey. It is the road He has laid out for me to travel, not the scribbled map of my own making.

I will seek His face and find strength for today. And for tomorrow.

Sunday grace.

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