Our Creator Sets Limits

It’s an honor to have Pat Luffman Rowland guest-posting this week. I’ve long been a fan of Pat’s writing, and you may have seen the link to her blog, Prayerful Pondering, in the sidebar. Many of her posts have caught my attention and imagination, but this is one post that I asked if she would share with us. It’s brief, but powerful, and it sets in place a parallel to our lives.

Pat writes:

Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, “This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt”? Job 38:8-11 (NIV)

The ocean is my favorite part of nature. I love to watch the rhythmic movement of the waves, hear the sound of them rolling into shore or crashing on rocks.

The waters have a vastness that seems wild and free, yet it is restrained by God’s command, the boundaries He set.

How can I trust that God’s boundaries for the ocean will hold?

How can I walk by the edge of the water, and not be afraid that a boundary will give way and I will be swallowed up?

It is by faith in the One who created the seas and determined how deep and wide they would be, by faith in the One who spoke that they might come so far and no farther.

Such is how we must trust God with the problems and perils of our lives. Sometimes it seems trials go on forever, pile one upon another. We begin to ask if God has forgotten us when relief is slow to come.

It helps to think of the ocean and how God has it in control. Just as He limits the oceans’ reach, He limits how much His children go through. We don’t always understand our tribulations, but God has said He uses all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

We must place our trust in that word from God. We must trust that the same One who created the boundaries for the seas, created limits for how much happens to us. We must trust that all will have its place in forming us for eternal life.

♥       ♥

The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” Matthew 8:27 (NIV)

A little about Pat.

Pat Luffman Rowland1Pat Luffman Rowland doesn’t recall a time she didn’t believe in God or know that Jesus was His Son and our Savior, but she made her profession of faith and was baptized at age twelve. She will never forget the experience of understanding she belonged to the Lord! The sun became ten times brighter and it was as if she could hear angels sing—a supremely joyful moment.

Pat has an undergraduate degree in Healthcare Consumer Relations, a master’s in Religious Studies, and worked for twenty-seven years in healthcare. She’s retired and lives in a suburb of Memphis with her two cats. Her daughter, Kristi, and son-in-law, Mark, reside in Georgia and are the delights of her heart.

Pat is active in her church, First Assembly of Memphis, and the church school, First Assembly Christian School. A writer, in addition to her blog, Prayerful Pondering, her work has appeared in devotional publications including The Upper Room, United Methodist Reporter, and Presbyterian Daily.

♥       ♥

Sally’s note~  Thank you, Pat, for sharing your blog post with us. I’m thrilled to have you as a guest and hope you will bless us with your wisdom again soon.

Have you sometimes felt slammed by wave after wave of things happening that just don’t seem to quit? You felt your prayers weren’t heard, that you wouldn’t survive? And just as you were about to “go under,” by faith, you prayed once more and dug in your heels.

And now, in retrospect, something changed, things eased and were somehow resolved.

Did the Lord perhaps impose limits, boundaries for you?

We are beloved. The Lord walks with us through it all.

Are you a survivor, thankful for His gracious limitations?

Pat and I would love for you to leave a comment on how God has set limits in your life.

Blessings!

Sally

Embraceable You

Little brothers~

I’m a hugger. Like my dad, I love people.

When I hug someone, once in a while there’s a little confusion as to where each of us will place our arms.

Sometimes it gets funny. But no matter what, there’s always a smile going on as we settle into a brief, warm hug that whispers of caring.

Did you know that there’s apparently a science to the action of hugging? I’d heard of it but hadn’t paid much attention to it until I decided to write this post.

Go here to find the fun wikiHow hug website. It shows you—with accompanying drawings—just how to hug everyone . . . properly!

It made me smile and even laugh out loud at some of the cute demos, though it still didn’t show me if there’s a preferred way to put my arms around someone. ☺

Sisters~

Now if you want to get all scientific . . . when you hug, there’s a release of oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone” that makes us feel good, and then there’s the stress hormone, cortisol that’s reduced, which is a good thing. No in-depth study here, but I’m sure there are probably more good things that happen, like endorphins . . . maybe more.

But when He made us, God knew we just needed love (plus, the oxytocin and cortisol were His ideas in the first place!).

Don’t ever stop embracing one another. It’s so important to show love and that’s just one small way to say “I love you” or “I think you’re a really wonderful person” or “I truly appreciate our friendship” or “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “I’m so happy to see you.” I may feel all the love, care and compassion in the world, but unless I tell you or show you, you might never know that I feel that way.

You can blow all the air kisses you want to, but love or just sweet friendship shown in a hug is incomparable.

Here’s some of what the Word has to say about embracing others,
like your Relatives:

Family~

“Then it came to pass, when Laban heard the report about Jacob his sister’s son,
that he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house.
So he told Laban all these things” (Genesis 29:13).

Brothers: “But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck
and kissed him, and they wept” (Genesis 33:4).

Fathers and sons: “Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see.
Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them” (Genesis 48:10).

Spouse: “His left hand is under my head, and
his right hand embraces me” (Song of Solomon 2:6). Disciples/Friends: “After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to
himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia” (Acts 20:1).

Bye, Grandpa.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 NKJV).

Hugs are small and free and warm and loving and one way to obey that commandment.

How do you feel about hugs?

LoveSally

Sleepless in Shushan

Have you ever had a night when you just couldn’t sleep

because those little night gremlins

wormed their way into your head

and began gnawing on the edges of your mind?

Once in a while, night can become Satan’s playground. We may be unable to fall asleep or may be awakened out of a sound sleep, ripped away from resting and thrust into groundless fear that forgets faith for a frightening moment. But if we know and love the Lord, it’s only for a moment.

“The mind is a beautiful thing,” they say. But what if it refuses to settle down and sleep?

What if your lovely gray matter decides to take the night off?

What if it says, “Nope, we’re going to think about every little detail of the day and take over the night, whether the rest of you likes it or not?”

Now, right here, is the perfect spot to give you a magical list of six great ways to solve sleeplessness.

Really? Are there any?

Sure, there are ways to help, like count sheep, deep breaths, recite scripture, think lovely thoughts, sip warm milk, or just give up and get up. You know them all and have probably tried them all.

But, once in a while, there may be a good reason why you’re wakeful.

 In the Bible, in the Book of Esther, King Ahasuerus was sleepless in Shushan the citadel.

“That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king” (Esther 6:1).

Queen Esther’s husband, King Ahasuerus was troubled with his wakefulness and called for someone to read him boring records so he’d fall asleep. But there were reasons for the king’s inability to sleep.

Good, sound reasons.

If the king had slept, he’d have missed what was written in those chronicles that ended up being instrumental in saving Queen Esther and her people from certain death.

God is in the details of why the King couldn’t sleep.

Could He be in the details of why we sometimes can’t sleep or wake up unexpectedly? Can that happen to us?

The king couldn’t get to sleep. But what about when you’re awakened from a deep sleep with a sense that something’s not right.

You get up and go directly to your child’s bedside–and discover a fever that needs your immediate attention. Or there’s an uneasiness, you can’t seem to go to sleep, and you rise. You’re drawn to turn on the TV and find there’s an overwhelming need for prayer. On the west coast, a gunman is holding many hostage—terrified people. And you’re certain they’re praying. They need prayer. And you pray.

Or what about the time you really wanted to watch the blood moon lunar eclipse but were just too bone weary from a difficult day. You tumble into bed and forget to set the alarm.

Then suddenly you’re wide awake. You glance at the blue digits on the clock. Three-thirty-two.

Did You do that, Lord?

And instantly, your bare feet are on the floor taking you to the front porch to feel the world move beneath you.

You stand in awe of the wake-up call and the sight of earth-shadow inching across the rugged face of the moon, the power and glory and mastery of God. An eclipse you would otherwise have slept right through.

But you know. You’ve been there too.

We love and serve an awesome God. There is nothing He cannot do. That includes the dearness of waking His child, whose little one needs her or whom He knows will pray for others or who has the desire to enjoy His creation, right on time.

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2 NKJV).

“Keep sound wisdom and discretion so . . . when you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:21, 24 NKJV).

Saint Teresa of Avila has the last word this week. I love this quote. Savor its depth and insight.

“God gave us faculties for our use; each of them will receive its proper reward. Then do not let us try to charm them to sleep, but permit them to do their work until divinely called to something higher.” Saint Teresa of Avila

Love,

Sally

White Rabbit Syndrome

“I’m late, I’m late! For a very important date . . .
And you know the rest.

It’s a cold Tuesday morning in January when my day begins to splinter, threatening to shred my best laid plans.

Uh oh. The red numbers on the bedroom clock blink through another minute. I zip into my skirt and shrug into my suit jacket.

A mini tidal wave of coffee sails over the edge of the mug, misses my hand and skirt, but sinks into the . . .
No!

Yes.
Into the carpet.
I grab a towel and mop at the mess, muttering something unkind regarding mug handles that totally ignores the truth.

Note to self: Don’t try to walk, balance coffee mug, think about dog food, and adjust bra strap at the same time.

Ready.

Not quite. I glance at my shoeless feet and rocket into the dark closet groping for my black heels.

I’m late, the last one to leave the house. The board meeting starts at 8:30 and is a twenty minute drive. My report won’t present itself and, ohhh, if I don’t get going, I’m not going to make it on time.

Purse and briefcase in hand, I shoot a passionate prayer for help heavenward and lock the door behind me.

Two hours later, Deb grabs the ringing phone as I walk into the office and through the reception area. We both mouth a whispered “Hi.”

I poke my head into Kay’s office. “Looks like you two are having a busy morning.”

Kay nods. It’s been crazy. How did your meeting go?” She hands me several call-back notes as the second phone line chimes. She answers and asks the client to hold.

“It went well; I’ll tell you all about it later.” I turn to leave, but Kay’s sudden peal of laughter behind me turns me around.

She points at my feet. “Did you get dressed in the dark this morning? Look at your shoes!”

I stare down at my feet. What’s she talking about? My shoes look perfectly normal. Black heels, closed toes. Identical.  

Already answering the phone with her friendly “This is Kay, may I help you?” she dodges my questioning look and grins at me.

I twist to look at the back of the heels as I remember the rocket-dive into my dark cave of a closet this morning. On my left foot, a sling-back. On my right, enclosed back. Great!

I shrug and shake my head, attempting to reflect Kay’s cute/sassy smile, and leave her to her phone call.

In my office both shoes come off and I hold them up. Heat creeps into my cheeks.
No one had said a word at the meeting, and now I sink back into my chair, trying to see the humor in all this.

At least, Kay and Debbie know the stress I’m under these days, running the business, care-taking my elderly parents, and more. I couldn’t do it without them. Later, the three of us share a good laugh, and since I never find the time to go home and change, I just wear the offending mismatched shoes all day.

But this isn’t the end of my story.

~~ the following Friday morning,

Debbie and Kay have set up an appointment for me, so I’m a little early getting to work. I walk into my office, and instead of the expected client, Kay and Deb are waiting for me, sitting in front of my desk.

“You might want to sit down, we have something to tell you,” Kay says.

Uh oh.

I round the desk and sit like a bump, looking at them, then at my desk. No birthdays on the calendar. What are they up to?Laid out on desk, three cups of fresh coffee, warm coffee cake, pink carnations and baby’s breath in a little crystal vase circled with a pink ribbon. A beautiful card tells me I’m appreciated and that they understand all the heaviness in my life right now, that they’re here for me—

And there’s no way I can stay behind that desk. I get up to give them each a hug. but before I can, both smiling like Cheshire cats, they point at their feet, laughing.

I choke back tears. There, on those four sweet feet are four different black shoes.

Kay looks up at me, dead serious, “Just one thing you need to know. We are not going to wear ours all day like you did!”

Talk about feeling loved and encouraged. There’s no better way they could have shown their love and support.

Thanks, God, for my staff—I love You—and them.

“Oil and perfume rejoice the heart; so does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart” (Proverbs 27:9 (AMP).

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV).

Clock-watching translates into stress, equaling anxiety and big nerves. Oh, and spilled stuff!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart . . . translates into peace beyond understanding.

Walk with Him.

Do you have a story to share? ☺

Love,

Sally

Stuck

Unless the Lord builds the house . . .

Such trouble I’m having this week, finding a subject to write about.
A little stressed because of a very busy last week and the time crunch, but trusting, praying, asking for something to write.

I reach for the Bible to search for what God might show me.

The pages fall open to 1Chronicles 22:18-19, and my eyes and imagination are caught up with the words:

“Is not the LORD your God with you?
And has He not given you rest on every side?
Now set your heart and soul to seek the Lord your God.
Therefore arise and build the sanctuary of the Lord God . . .”

So what are we building, Lord?
A sanctuary, a sacred or holy place. A place of refuge.

We’re building a small sacred place, a place of refuge. A place to spend a few moments together in wonder over the Lord and His universe, His creation, His people, and much more. Setting the scenes every week through photos and word-stories to share God’s love with you. And hope you feel free to share your heart too.

I think of those who have generously written articles for me to post here on the blog.

Thoughts of the artisan/craftsman, Bezalel, light up my mind, and some of his story in Scripture.

“Then Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work.” Exodus 36:2

And my mindset changes with a grin of realization that the Lord has just provided all I needed to share with you—

Whether you are a writer, a mom, a business owner, a caretaker, no matter what God has called you to do, if He has stirred your heart to do that work, He has put wisdom into you to accomplish it.

As Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Through Him, just as when Moses called Bezalel to make the tabernacle beautiful, we can do what we were called to do.

We’ve climbed a little mountain and looked up and found a crevice of sanctuary. “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So… get on your way.” Dr. Suess

So if you find yourself stuck for a solution, consult the Master problem-solver and his Manual! ☺

The Lord has joy and laughter—and mountain climbing—ready for you!

Have you been stuck lately?

 

 

Rewind!

Oh, boy, I really messed that up.

My aim was to share, encourage, and entertain. But how could anyone have gotten anything out of a talk that was so personal, passionate, and rambling?

The day after I’d given a talk to the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group at church, negative replays of that morning began tumbling through my mind like a windstorm of errant autumn leaves. At one point, those replays were so annoying I stopped everything to pray about the criticism I was giving myself.

Plopping onto a kitchen chair, elbows on my knees, palms pressed hard against my forehead, I poured out a plea. “Please, God, help me let this go.”

Did you feel encouraged to lift Me up as you were speaking?

“Yes, but what about how I talked so much about myself. My childhood. My mother. My writing. And I dragged it out . . . on and on . . . ”

And afterward? How did your question and answer session go?

“It went well, but—”

But—I wasn’t listening and kept right on agonizing and praying for help to let go of the constant “hashing over” of what I’d so passionately shared.

Minutes later, I pulled on a sweater and half-listened to the program in progress on a Christian radio station. The pastor giving the message didn’t waste any time getting right down into my business as he read the first of two Bible versions of Revelation 3:16.

“So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Uh oh. But I hadn’t exactly been lukewarm in my talk, had I? Coffee sloshed in the cup as I set it on my nightstand and stared at the radio. The pastor had my attention.

He continued, reading the second version, which put the verse in words a whole lot stronger “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”

He paused, thoughtful, and seemed to draw out his words for effect, “So, being lukewarm makes God sick.”

I let out the breath I’d been holding. I’d heard enough. I “got” it.

Doubt had taken my focus from the Lord. I’d focused squarely on myself. I was sinking as fast as Peter had after he left his boat and walked on the water to go to Jesus. Instead of keeping his eyes locked on the eyes of Jesus, Peter looked away to the winds that whipped the wave tops and buffeted him. In sudden fear, he began to slip beneath the waves like chunk of lead and called to Jesus to save him. I had done the same. Jesus reached out to Peter.

“And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” Matthew 14:31

And in the midst of my doubts and  fears, the Lord reached out to me with a reminder. Sweet reassurance that He had been in every detail of my talk to the young women. My passion had come from His heart. My job was to trust and leave the rest to Him.

All those replays, doubts, and worries had been custom designed by Satan to attack my weak spots. I had prayed over what I would say to the gathered moms. I’d trusted the Holy Spirit. I’d been passionate. I’d done my best to lift up the Lord, so why had I doubted?

Satan, the universal doubt-planter, the one who paces the earth like a roaring lion, ready to devour, was overruled as God spoke to my heart through the pastor’s words.

And I let it go.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1Peter 5:8).

So He said, ‘Come.’ “And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!'” (Matthew 14:29-31)

I’m thankful we serve a gracious God who cares when we lose our way in trusting Him. He loves us with an everlasting love and turns our tribulations into triumphs . . . and into stories to share.

Have you ever doubted and started to sink into a sea of unbelief?

There’s a song for that; Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

Love,

Sally

Sometimes . . .

in the winds

of change

we find our

new direction.

I’m unsure who penned those words, but they seem to fit this first day of the New Year.

Do you have a new word, a new focus for this year?

My new word is JOY . . .

to walk through this year in JOY, discovering all its facets, trusting in the Lord for His will, His timing, His way.

♥ 

Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters, “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 NKJV).

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).

Looking forward . . .

Are you?

Love,

Sally