Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Look Up!


Walking has been my exercise of choice for many years. I've tried other things, but they never lasted for very long. I have always come back to stepping out into the clear fresh air and onto the quiet little streets of our country sub-division. Most days a breeze sets the grasses in the fields and the branches of the trees dancing to the sweet melody of birdsong. If I have eyes to see, there are miracles all around me. However...

I have a terrible habit. I look down at the ground as I walk. All the articles on walking for exercise tell you to walk with your head held high and eyes straight ahead. I try hard to remember to do it, but minutes into my walk I realize I'm concentrating on the few feet of road right in front of me. 


I see asphalt, dirt, dead leaves, rocks, a stick or two - my own feet. You may think it nothing to fret about. At least I won't trip over something and fall flat on my face. In fact, I nearly stepped on a small snake one of the times I actually was looking straight ahead! But that is of little consequence. What is an occasional snake compared to the beauty all around and over me?


When I catch myself with bent head and force myself to look up, I feel a mixture of wonder and regret. Regret for all I've been missing and wonder at all the delightful things right in front of me - billowing clouds, green fields, looping butterflies, field grass swaying with the breeze swirling around me, puddles filled with sunlit diamonds, wildflowers peeking their tiny heads above the fresh green grass and home with its ancient oaks standing sentinel. If I tilt my head a little more there is a breathtaking glimpse of heaven - radiant and full of promise. Peace washes over my soul.


If I'm not careful, if I get caught up in the dailiness of life, I find my view becomes very narrow. I walk through my days, head down, eyes focused on all of the things I'm trying desperately to control...

Let's talk more about the way we look at things over at Laced With Grace. Join me?

Blessings,
Linda

Monday, February 6, 2017

Walking In Obedience



Merriam-Webster defines obey in this way - "to follow the commands or guidance of; to conform to or comply with."

The Learners Dictionary definition is: "to do what someone tells you to do or what a rule, law, etc., says you must do."

For most of us being obedient isn't much of a problem in the ordinary course of our lives. We stop at red lights, don't take what isn't ours, refrain from harming others, just to name a few. However, when it comes to those intangibles - the choices I make in my personal life - it gets a bit stickier. After all, we're apt to think, as long as I'm not hurting anyone else, I should be free to do whatever I choose to do. And so we are. It's called free will.

Making the choice to walk in obedience to a higher authority can be a frightening proposition. What if we're asked to do something we don't want to do; what if it's something dangerous or frightening? Even when that higher authority is a God we say is good and loving, obedience often comes with a certain degree of fear.

Until we catch just a tiny glimpse of life from a heavenly perspective.

Most of us are familiar with the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham had an extraordinary relationship with God. He walked in obedient faith, and the Lord blessed him. Isaac, Abraham's beloved son, was tangible evidence of God's hand of blessing on Abraham's life - the fulfillment of promises made long ago.

Than came the day when obedience to the God he loved, led Abraham on a three day journey to Mt. Moriah to sacrifice his only son. He had no way of knowing what God would do, he simply trusted as he took one step after another toward the place he had been told to go.

Our Pastor recently spoke about this moment in Abraham's life - that moment when he raised the knife over the bound body of his boy and, before he could bring it down, hearing the voice from heaven telling him to stop. Then, perhaps through tear dimmed eyes, seeing the ram in the thicket - God's provision.

Rams, our Pastor said, don't inhabit Mt. Moriah at that altitude. Yet, as Abraham walked obediently up the side of that mountain, God was sending his provision up the other side to meet him. He had no way of knowing what God was doing on his behalf, He only knew he could trust Him to make all things right...

The rest of this devotional is at Laced With Grace. Please join me there.

Blessings,
Linda

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Puzzle Pieces



We bought one of those 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles a couple of months ago. I love them but hadn't owned one in a very long time. I know myself. Instead of slowly putting the pieces together over time, I become obsessed. Once that border is pieced together, I'm on a mission to Get. It. Done.

Jigsaw puzzles fit nicely as metaphors for the Christian life. I think about how all those scattered pieces have no form or meaning, but once they are put together a beautiful picture emerges - much the way the Lord takes the pieces of our lives and makes something wonderful of them. We can't imagine at the time how all of the varied circumstances, both good and difficult, could possibly amount to anything until we one day will see them from the Father's vantage point and they have come together perfectly.

As I worked this puzzle with my husband, that isn't the metaphor that came to mind. Once we got the majority of the puzzle put together it became a matter of finding that one specific piece that would complete a portion of the picture. I would carefully match the colors and hunt for just the right shape until I was sure I had the right one in my hand - only to find it didn't fit. No matter which way I turned it or how hard I pressed, it wouldn't go into the space. Even when we were down to less than a dozen frustrating little pieces it didn't get any easier. I found myself saying over and over again, "Where in the world does this piece go, and where is the one we need?"

I'm writing at Laced With Grace today. Come on over and let's talk puzzles.

Blessings,
Linda

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Forty Days


The announcement came last weekend at church - 40 days of prayer and fasting beginning January 16th. It is, of course, strictly voluntary and can be adjusted in any way one feels led: one day a week, a few days a week, every day for the 40 day period. The fast need not necessarily be from food. It could be a tv show, phone/game apps - anything the Lord places on your heart.

In place of whatever it is you choose "take that time to read the Bible, pray, journal and focus on a closer walk with Jesus, asking God to do something in your life or in the life of someone else."

Our Pastor had barely finished telling us about the fast before I felt that familiar nudge in my spirit. I squirmed a little, but I knew. Truthfully, I had struggled for weeks with this - knowing it had gotten out of balance (yet again) in my life.

I've been feeling "unmoored" for weeks - sitting in my little "boat" while the waves and tides carried me wherever they wished - frittering away the hours. I haven't been able to settle: can't find a good book I want to read, stuck on a knitting project, undecided about writing another book, wondering "what to do now" with the little book I released out into the world two months ago, burdened for loved ones who are struggling.

Instead of doing something constructive, I sit on the couch, turn on the laptop and lose myself for hours at a time (It stings a bit to admit that!) - immediately followed by all the guilt and promises to do better tomorrow.

Yes - I knew exactly what that little nudge meant - no Facebook for 40 days. Still makes me squirm a little. I can think of all the reasons I need to at least check it periodically - none of them good enough.

So here we go. I'll leave my page up and will link my blog posts, but I won't be doing anything else on FB. If there is something important I need to know, please PM me or send an email. I'll check my small Instagram account to keep in touch with family - and that's it!

Keep me accountable friends. If you see me poking around, feel free to give me a talking to. I need this - my soul needs this. What a coincidence our Pastor has prayerfully decided to do this just when I need it most!

Blessings,
Linda

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Word For the Year


It is that time of year again, when some of us choose a word for the coming year. It isn't a practice I was familiar with until I began blogging, but I like the idea of centering my heart on one thing. Ideally it's a word I've prayed about and felt the Lord speak into my spirit.

Having said that (and sounding far more spiritual than I have any right to), I must admit most years I lose focus. In fact, by the time several months have passed I've often forgotten the word altogether. So much for good intentions.

However, hating to give up on something I know is good, I'm going to give it another go. Last year my word was listen. I wrote about it here. Truthfully, I did sort of forget I had chosen it as my word, but ironically I made an effort to be a better listener all year long. I won't give myself high marks, but I think I did a bit better - less interrupting, less trying to always have the right answer. Less - but I have a long way to go.

I recently read a devotional entitled "The Sound of Silence," by David Roper. He writes about the power of silence - the way it can give us the opportunity to reconsider the harsh words bubbling just beneath the surface. And the way it can give the other person a chance to "hear" their own words hovering in the air around them.

Apart from this, I think there are often conversations when silence is exactly what the other person needs. All they really want is a listening heart. They don't want to hear all about the way I had a similar experience and the way I dealt with it. They don't want to hear the words that will make everything right. They simply want to be heard.

I want so much to give the gift of listening and silence to those who give me the gift of their words and trust.

Do you have a word for the year? I'd love to hear about it!

Blessings,
Linda




Monday, January 9, 2017

Begin Again



"The year begins; and all its pages are as blank as the silent years of the life of Jesus Christ. Let us begin it with high resolution; then let us take all its limitations, all its hindrances, its disappointments, its narrow and common-place conditions, and meet them as the Master did in Nazareth, with patience, with obedience, putting ourselves in cheerful subjection, serving our apprenticeship."
George Hodges (b. 1856)

We turn the last page of the calendar and take a deep breath, closing the "book" on all the disappointments, failures and heartache of the past weeks and months. Of course there were times of joy and blessing - but, for most of us, it is the places we feel we haven't measured up that prick our hearts.

Another deep breath and then an exhale in relief - in the knowing we have a brand new year stretching out before us filled with possibilities and the opportunity to get it right. Perhaps we write them down, the list of resolutions we're determined to carry through.  Or perhaps we simply carry in our hearts the hopes and dreams we are determined to live out. Either way, we are thankful for the chance to begin again.

For a little while all goes well, but inevitably we do the very thing we resolved we wouldn't do or we fail to do the things we longed to do. It probably isn't our fault. Things just haven't been going as planned. Our circumstances have made it so difficult to live out those well-intentioned resolutions...

I'm beginning the new year with a post at Laced With Grace (and a tiny resolution to be more faithful in writing here on my blog). Please come join me there:

Blessings,
Linda


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Beginning Of the Story


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It is the greatest story ever told - God come down to earth to rescue fallen man. In Matthew's gospel, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,  he begins the story with the lineage of Jesus - establishing His claim as the long awaited Messiah and King. Skipping over the genealogy and birth of Jesus, Mark begins the story right at the start of Jesus ministry. Luke, on the other hand, begins at what we would consider the beginning. His gospel opens with the story of Zechariah - months before the angel made the astounding announcement of a virgin birth to a young Jewish girl.

As satisfying and complete as the story in Luke feels to us, it is John who takes us back to the true beginning of this great story - to a time before time began. "In the beginning," he writes, with the breath of the Holy Spirit flowing through his pen, "the Word already existed." He goes on to tell us, "The Word was with God, and the Word was God."

There it is - the beginning before the beginning. Jesus always was - no beginning and no ending - eternal. He was there at the time of creation. "God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him." Long before God blew the breath of life into Adam's nostrils the story was written.

Please join me at Laced With Grace for the rest of the story:

Have a blessed Christmas,
Linda