Timeless

December. Another year is fast sliding by us to take its place in the lived-in past of eternity.

God says the plans He has for us are carefully shaped to prosper us, give us hope and a future. I’m praying and looking and trusting Him for ideas, things to trigger memories, subjects to write about in 2015.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).

As I browse through an online photo gallery, the above photo jumps out. I can’t get past it, so I stop, fascinated. Usually, I don’t care for rooms as busy as this one. But as my eyes roam over the rich and varied woods, a well-used leather loveseat, golden lighting that seems to spread mysteriously throughout the room from a single floor lamp, and dozens of books, I want to be there. After all, there are books. ☺

So maybe that’s what pulls me in. Or is it that I can almost smell the pungent scent of old paper, ink, and a little of the dust and mustiness from leather book covers? There are thick, heavy tomes, tall, slender books, textbooks, some old, some new, maybe a series of fiction or a set of encyclopedias. I’m guessing. I can’t really see the titles.

Something begins to bother me, but I can’t put my finger on what.

Where is this place? I look for a painting of an English fox hunting scene, but the two lovable dogs work just as well, and the room doesn’t really feel English anyway. A tea set sits ready, as if someone is about to enjoy a cup of hot tea with friends. I’m curious about why there’s one big empty square in the bookcase. Did the stack of books on the table come from there?

I want to curl up in the far corner of the couch and hear the leather creak beneath me. I want to tuck my feet up under me with a book in my lap and hold a cup of sugar-sweetened tea with cream between my palms. I want to revel in ambiance of the room, all the details of it.

But the sense of something not quite right persists.

I push it out of my mind and press in closer to study the photo, loving the shades of red everywhere, the dash of green in the blotter on the writing desk, the walls a soft, pastel blue or maybe green, I can’t quite tell. There are figurines, a globe, statuary and another lamp. Is this a library in someone’s mansion?

My imagination is no longer content to sit and gaze, I want to stop time and walk through this room, to examine everything in it. It speaks of someone’s life, the one who put this room together, its creator.

Things aren’t always what they seem.

I finally see what has been niggling at me. A couple of little white rectangles that don’t fit in, dangle from two lamps. Tags. I’d been drawn into an illusion and I have to smile. I dig deeper and learn that the photograph is of a shop in Madrid, not of a private library in someone’s mansion. Still, I’d like to go there! Of course, I’ve seen plenty of displays of furniture in stores and shops arranged as if in homes, but not quite like this one in a photo where sales tags are nearly invisible.

Clever photographer to capture a scene that captures me as well? Or clever shopkeeper to create such an atmosphere for sales? Maybe both?

Your turn to lean in. You can click on the photo to get a better view (and ‘back’ to return to the blog). Look carefully, and you’ll see there are tags on many items, even on a dog’s ear in the painting.

I’d love it if you’d leave your ideas and thoughts about this little illusion!

Things are not always what they seem. “‘Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?’ says the Lord; ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:24 NKJV).

There are two things, maybe more, that come to mind as I write this blog.

First, If you’re waiting for something in your life, don’t give up. It may seem as if the Lord will never bring your heart’s desire to pass, but wait. Things are not always what they seem. We don’t have eyes to see or hearts to perceive everything that goes into how God answers our prayers. Our job is having faith, believing in Him, not in the request, not in ourselves, not in anything else but Him.

And then, there is the tempter, Satan, who roams this fallen world. In any guise he needs to use, he creates the illusion of something you must have or must do. He assures you that it’s all good until you are ensnared, trapped in sin so deep there seems no way out. But there is nothing too deep or impossible for God. God is greater than any sin. You are loved whether you feel lovable or not. There is hope. And that hope lies in God’s greatest gift to us, His only Son, Jesus. Believe in Him.     ♥     But I’m not here to preach, though I do want to point to the Way out of our troubles, trials, and temptations. So when things are in shades of black all around you, breathe His name. Jesus. That’s the beginning. Find a Bible and begin reading in the back half, in the Book of John. Listen. Watch. God will lead you to someone to talk to. and with.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV).

Love,

Sally

 

 

 

 

Joy Undiminished

Someone once said:

“In Christ we have a love that can never be fathomed,

a life that can never die,

a peace that can never be understood,

a rest that can never be disturbed,

a joy that can never be diminished,

a hope that can never be disappointed,

a glory that can never be clouded,

a light that can never be darkened,

and a spiritual resource that can never be exhausted.”

Surrounded by all the familiar scents and sounds of a busy Thanksgiving morning, I stand in the midst my hectic kitchen with joy spilling over my edges and just breathe. The table is ready, laden with a bounty of all the traditional feast of foods we enjoy every year on this day. Family is all over the house talking, laughing, sharing photos, catching up. It feels wonderful and I’m bathed in blessings.

I glance at the stove with its pan full of steaming, now-smooth gravy, and grin. (You need to know that gravy and I have a battle history!) Moments ago, I’d grumbled over that pan. Not now! “Where is joy in lumpy gravy?” I’d asked the Lord.

I should know by now that no detail of the lives of God’s children is outside His purview. Words that God spoke to the prophet, Jeremiah, pop into my head. “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me?”

I ask and trust that my nemesis, gravy, will behave itself  and deliciously grace our turkey, stuffing, and potatoes—and that this day will be full of joy.

Looking back later, I’m thankful about how the lumps smoothed out of more than just the gravy throughout that day.

I have to smile a little and agree with the prophet’s words, “Ah, Lord God! You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.”

Traditions have changed in my family in the last few years. Jerry and I join the rest of the family at my daughter and son-in-law’s home on Thanksgiving Day. Now I’m beside them in their bright, warm (yes, hectic) kitchen to help with dinner—and would you believe, I’m still assigned to fight with the gravy?

Are your Thanksgiving traditions the same or have they changed over time?      Do you have a favorite blessing you use?      Have you a favorite handed-down recipe?
I’d love for you to share a story or two about traditions you enjoy (kitchen adventures welcome)!

I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30 NKJV).

Praying that you have a Joy-Filled Thanksgiving Day!

Love, Sally

The verses from Jeremiah 32:27; 17 are from TLB

 

Forgive

I’ll Miss You

The school day was over, and the last of the kids were pushing through the double doors, racing into the freedom of the warm afternoon. My arms ached from lugging a heavy cardboard box down the hall from my classroom to the exit. Still holding onto to the box, I leaned against the wall where I was to wait for my mother to pick me up.

In grade school, eight or nine years old, I was horse-crazy and had begged to take my cherished collection of horses to school for “show and tell” that day. Probably against her better judgment, my mother had finally relented. Two of my favorite bronze horses were tucked inside the box, one posed for show, and the one I loved most, posed in full western regalia. That horse was a replica of how I wanted a horse of my own to look someday.

The minutes slid by in that quiet hallway like sand through my fingers. Mom was late and I was getting anxious. There were only the echoes of a few distant adult voices, and believing the horses would be safe for a few minutes, I lowered the weighty box to the floor and ran outside to look for her.

Neither our car nor Mom were anywhere in sight and I couldn’t leave my horses any longer. I tore back into the hallway, breathless.

I stopped, shocked and disbelieving, and stared at the floor where the box had been.

I don’t remember tears or anger—only numb disbelief. I searched everywhere. I’m sure I must have asked a few people still in the building, but I was too shy to do more. Mom tried to help, but my horses were gone . . . forever gone.

The memory of that day had faded until one dark early morning many years later. Grown, married with two children, my husband was working a night shift. It was around 3:30 when I awoke, and vivid images began to unreel through my mind. I watched. I listened. And God spoke to my heart.

Until that morning, I hadn’t thought of my beautiful bronze horses as being stolen, or that there had even been a thief at all. I couldn’t think about what happened; it was too painful. I’d felt nothing except guilt, carelessness, self-blame, and horrible regret that I couldn’t change what happened.

The Lord walked with me back through the hurt and the memories, but then, into a challenge.

God showed me a new pain. The pain of another, the thief who’d stolen my horses.

I needed to forgive. My horses were gone because another stole them, and that “other” needed my forgiveness right now. Would I forgive?

I’d pushed my own pain away so long ago—I’d forgotten—but never forgiven. Could I?

The Lord had forgiven me, how could I not forgive?

And I forgave.

And I let go of my treasured collection.

But that was not the end of things, only a beginning. There was another memory.

I was in my teens. We were moving across the country. There had been no choice. Cindy, my beautiful chestnut mare, and the love of my young life, Stardust—my Dusty, a yearling filly, had to be sold. Again, I can’t remember anger or tears, only a massive, empty sadness, numbness and disbelief. I resigned myself to the unchangeable, and to relieve the pain, I could only turn away and forget.

“You have more to forgive.”

“Whom must I forgive, Lord?” But I knew the answer:

My father and my mother for the changes they chose—no—changes that they had to make.

And I forgave them.

Strange how unforgiveness, when it isn’t even merited, only creates a wound within the one who fails to forgive. Strange how you can go on through life never realizing that there is a deep need to forgive. Wondrous how God, in His love, reveals and heals within dimensions of your soul that you didn’t know existed.

But there was still more.

“Do you love them more than Me?

“My Cindy and Dusty, Lord?”

“Will you trust them to Me?”

This was the hardest of all. I still loved them. Yes, they were gone, but they were part of me. “I will bring them to You.”

And for long moments, I sat propped up against my pillows and let the burning tears come.

And, I let them go, able to miss and love them from the perspective of where I stood, and now stand.

“There is one more thing for you to do.”

I know what it is. He has lifted my bowed head and searched the depths of my soul.

“I . . . forgive . . . me, Lord.”

Held until His peace filled my spirit and infused every fiber of my being, I felt God’s reassuring arms around me.

“None of these things happened outside My will for your life.”

“I love nothing, no one, more than You, Lord.”

“I Forgive You.”

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15).

“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” (John 21:15a).

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Deep healing happened in those moments that early morning.

Have you loved and lost and forgiven and let go?

You are God’s child, and greatly loved.

Please share your story.

Love,

Sally

All scripture is from the New King James Version of the Bible

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling Invisible?

“Am I invisible? Am I inaudible? Do I merely festoon the room with my presence?” as Christopher Fry was to ask in The Lady’s Not for Burning.

I love that quote! It flat out made me giggle when I first read it with its reminder of how invisible I feel sometimes. You know—those days when you just want to wave your arms and yell, “I’m right here and I have a name!”

Life holds such a clamor of people and things. We’re pulled in a dozen directions at once. We feel both invisible and inaudible and we wonder . . .

Who sees who I really am? Who truly listens to what I have to say?

Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom. Has your other half ever sauntered into the house much later than he’d said he’d be, and before you can say a word, he says “Man what a day! What’s to eat?” [After the day you’ve had, you barely hold back a slightly snarky “Um, it’s all curled up in the oven waiting for you, sweetie!”]

Or maybe you’ve been bolted to your desk, jammed up against deadlines when your boss pokes his head into your office to deliver a veiled sing-song request, “Copier”s out of paper!” [You grit your teeth against blurting out something a notch less than ladylike!]

Even a doting grandmother, without receiving so much as a welcoming hug, might sometimes hear “Did you bring me a present?” [Ouch! Just maybe I shouldn’t have?]

Ever think, What! Am I a nonentity?

No matter what your circumstances, do you seem to fade into invisibility and feel taken for granted when you live out scenes like those?

And as if all that isn’t enough stress, what about the things that constantly beckon us wherever we are, like ticking timers, buzzers, bells, phones, and chimes, all demanding us to race to them for attention?

Of course, we don’t “merely festoon” our homes or where we work,with our presence. ☺ We’re loved by our family, appreciated by our bosses, colleagues, and co-workers, (no, not all the time) but we catch glimpses.

But when the only warmth and welcome seems to come from a pot full of fresh-perked coffee or the brisk scent of brewing tea or the comforting aroma of hot chocolate, just maybe it’s time to take a break.

So what do you do when you feel invisible?

You can stop, pull in a breath, and turn things around. You can lift something more than a cup of coffee, tea, or chocolate.

Lift up your eyes: Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens” (Psalm 123:1).

Lift up a friend: “For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).

Lift up your voice: “Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together . . .” (Isaiah 52:8a)

Lift up your soul: “Rejoice the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul” (Psalm 86:4).

Lift up your hands: “Lift up your hands in His Name: Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name” (Psalm 63:4).

 ♥

“They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing; for the majesty of the LORD they shall cry aloud from the sea” (Isaiah 24:14).

And there’s One to whom you are never invisible or inaudible.

Dance! Your heavenly Father adores you!

Allow God to lift you up:
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

“. . . I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

I like this breath prayer too: “More of you, Lord. Less of me.”

And I’m sure you have your own stress relievers. I’d love for you to share some.

Love,

Sally

 All scripture is from New King James Version of the Holy Bible

Beyond Reason

I’m in my late teens, young and new at motherhood. My precious baby girl has scratched her cheek, and this morning I need to trim her tiny fingernails again. She’s four months old and so adorable, smiling and cooing at me.

Fresh from her bath, the scent of baby powder and lotion wafts around us. I lean down to nuzzle the softness of the sweet cuddly place between her neck and shoulder before I slip clean clothes on her.

We carry on our usual fun mommy/baby dialogue as I secure her on her changing table, all buckled up. A wiggly, lively baby, she’s a challenge to me to care for. I pick up the small nail scissors to cut my little one’s fingernails.

She’s in constant motion and curious when I take her little hand in mine and begin to trim those tiny nails.

Then—the unthinkable.

Feet, and legs and hands and arms move all at once, and before I can stop, the scissors slice into her tender flesh. Blood trickles from her little finger, dripping onto her white shirt. I stare down at the cut on her finger in disbelief.

Her instant cries pierce my heart.

Oh, dear God, I’ve hurt my child.

Appalled, my heart twists into an unrelenting ache. I run to the bathroom for a cloth and bandages, prayers on my lips, her wails echoing in my ears . . .

Please, heavenly Father, no!

I race back to her side.

Something has changed.

She’s suddenly quiet. I reach for her hand to rinse the blood away, but step back, and my eyes search for what is no longer there.

There’s no trace of the crimson blood that covered her fingertip and ran down her hand. There are no droplets of blood staining her now snow-white shirt, nor is there evidence of the cut on her finger. I’m stunned.

I continue to search for a piece of red thread or a scrap of red cloth, anything to give me a reasonable, logical explanation. But the more I look the more in awe I become. Thankfulness slowly replaces doubt and the ache in my heart eases.

There’s nothing red, there is no blood anywhere.

Looking up at me, cheeks still wet with tears, sweet baby sounds bubble from my little one. And through my tears of joy, I undo the confining straps of the changing table and scoop her up into my arms.

This is beyond reason, beyond logic, and I stand, holding her close, humbled, overjoyed at the power of God, thanking him over and over for what he has done—for answering my prayers.

There is no other explanation.

When I stood beside my infant daughter, searching in disbelieving wonder for evidence of blood and injury that was no longer there, I stood on ground as holy as the ground on which Moses stood at the burning bush.

Where have you experienced holy ground? As believers in Christ Jesus, it is not beyond any of us.

“The centurion answered and said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed’” (Matthew 8:8 NKJV).

“Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour” (Matthew 15:28 NKJV).

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Psalm 115:1