Rachel’s Story

I can’t help but follow him this last day before we leave Jerusalem to return to Nazareth. He usually stays with his brothers and friends, but today’s different. I watch him walk away from them and not even one notices that he left.

But I do.

And I follow him.

My palms are damp and my belly is full of butterflies. I should stay with the young women, but I won’t.

“Rachel, you’re as stubborn and curious as old Sol!” my father often tells me, ruffling my hair and giving our donkey a swat on his ornery behind.

My friend knows where he is going. I want to see where.

My mother died when I was born, twelve years ago, the same month Jesus was born. My father and I travel with Jesus and his family every year to celebrate the Passover Feast in Jerusalem.

We live close to each other in Nazareth. My father repairs rooftops here and in nearby cities. I stay with Jesus’ family while my father works.

And today, in Jerusalem, I follow Jesus.

To the temple.

I go where I’m not supposed to go, and my heart thumps hard in my chest, but no one seems to notice me.

I watch my friend walk up to the circle of men—teachers, rabbis—men who stand and sit on worn stone steps in a shaded alcove. Deep in conversation, several have scrolls spread across their laps.

What are you doing, Jesus . . .

I draw in a breath. The scent of burnt offerings rolls past me in puffs of heated dust that makes me rub my eyes. I press the folds of my light robe around me, and lean against a pillar in the shadows.

One of the teachers reads aloud.

Jesus sits on a step, right in the midst of the rabbis.

He’s listening.

I listen too.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”

The rich voice hesitates, then ceases. A collective intake of breath rustles through the men, as if a freshening wind has sighed through trees, then silence.

The teacher’s eyes narrow and his fingers tighten around the handles of the Isaiah Scroll. He glares at my friend.

Jesus stands, his dark eyes touch on the teacher then move to rest gently on each of the rabbis, one-by-one. His voice, firm and strong, he repeats the scripture, every word.

Adonai Hashem, protect Jesus from punishment.

My hands fly to my face. I want to fall on my knees, but I must not be discovered. The solid pillar seems to hold me.

Jesus gives them no time to reprimand him. He nods toward the white-bearded rabbi who sits, unmoving, against the rough beige stone of  the temple wall.

And as if answering the old teacher’s unspoken question, Jesus speaks of the Coming One, repeating words of the prophets. Words I’ve heard my father speak.

What are you saying, Jesus . . . 

I watch stern expressions change from anger to awe as my friend, answers questions no man could know.

And my ears burn with what I hear my friend saying to the teachers.

I stay, listen, and watch until the sun grazes the rooftops with heated bronze rays . . .

Until I give up and will my feet to run.

I’m to leave early with my father. He has promised a side trip to see cousins. I’m suddenly anxious to return in time to pack my things.

Only when I return to Nazareth do I learn what happened. His mother and father had traveled a day before they knew he was not with the company returning to Nazareth. It took them three days before they finally found him in the temple sitting with the teachers.

No one but his mother understood when Jesus explained.  But she listened with a knowing smile as I confessed to her what I’d done, what I’d heard.

And I was to hear it once again.

This time, in Nazareth.

We’re much older now. Jesus’ father died four years ago. Like Jesus’ mother, I am widowed, but with no children. Jesus is no longer the sun-browned, rough-robed, boy I knew.

Yesterday, along with His family, I’ve welcomed Him home. Like quicksilver Jesus has slipped in and out of our lives since the signs began in Cana. He’s been away for over a month this time.

Today, with His mother, I stand near the door of the synagogue and listen. Together, we hear Jesus read from the Isaiah Scroll, hear Him say the words of the prophet, His voice even and authoritative.Mary grasps my hand.

I close my eyes. I’m twelve again, listening to a rabbi’s reading of the same prophecy my Friend speaks into the tense air of the synagogue in this moment.

But it’s not the same. Three times, Jesus emphasizes a single word, Me.

“. . . upon Me . . . anointed Me . . . sent Me

With all the humility I remember, He hands the scroll to the attendant, sits down, and continues to speak

“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Mary’s hand trembles. There is more as He speaks to them in a proverb . . .

It begins with a ripple, and rushes like a flood through the crowd.

Sudden anger from the men inside, an instant change from their approval of His earlier gracious words. Jesus is silent now as they rise to their feet. He allows them to lay hands on Him, permits them to take Him outside and to the cliff edge.

Will they throw Him over the edge? Kill Him? My heart clenches with dread.

We follow.

Maybe tears cause the blur, the smear of color and movement as if time melts the scene with the heat of its passage.

I don’t know how . . .

But in the midst of the blur, the figure of Jesus, the clarity of His body encased in golden light, moves through the crowd untouched.

His mother knows His Truth. As she ministered to me when my firstborn died in my arms, Mary began to share her many stories. They came from her heart along with the balm of her comfort in the years since. She knows it will not be for long, but she will follow Him, her firstborn Son.

I will too.

Maybe it will be at a distance, perhaps unseen. But Adonai has graced me with the means to follow. I will stay near her, and follow Him.

Jesus was my friend when He needed to be “about His Father’s business”. Now, He is still my friend and more. He is my Lord.

♥ ♥ ♥

No one knows what Jesus listened to the teachers say or what words he spoke to them. We are only told that those who heard and spoke with Him in the temple were astonished at His understanding and His answers to their questions. And like the three days before His resurrection, no one knows what happened during those three days before Jesus was found by his parents, with the teachers.

God knows. And I’m curious enough to let my imagination have free rein with a story based on the scriptures from Luke 2:39-52, Isaiah 61:1-2a, and Luke 4:22a

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

Albert Einstein

God gifted each of us with a lively imagination. How does using yours enrich your walk with Him?

I’d love for you to share with me in a comment!

Love,

Sally

 

 

What’s in Your Closet?

BOO~!

 

Most decent, self-respecting closets only harbor clothes and shoes and occasionally a few imaginary monsters that come out at night and scare the dickens out of little kids.

Not my closet!

 

 

 

Sometimes you just have to tell it like it is.

 

So, here goes!

 

 

Along with the clothes and shoes, I keep a coloring book in there!

And a big box of crayons.

(And Play Doh. Yes, for me. I like that messy fun stuff too.) Of course, I tell everyone that I have crayons and Play-Doh for when little ones come to visit.

Which is partially true.

And things were going well for my once-in-a-while secret, relaxing fun until  . . .

Eleanor came to visit . . .

and I decided to share

and the cameras came out.

So we’re all down on the floor, an adorable, almost-two-year-old great grandniece, my fun-loving daughter-in-law, Sarah, and me.

And there goes my secret.

But that’s not the end of the story!

 

 

Several weeks later, “You’ve got mail,” my better-half says, and hands me a package.

Two seconds later, I’m holding this! Coloring Book Secret Garden

My Bugs Bunny days have been challenged! Seems my wonderful younger brother, and sister-in-law heard all about my love of coloring and decided I needed an adult coloring book!

It’s gorgeous. A magical and fantastically cool gift! I may be 102 and coloring outside the lines by the time I finish it and probably won’t find all the “half-hidden creepy crawlies” lurking inside, but I’m already loving it—

How about you? Any little secret quirky things from childhood you still love to do?

“The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.”
Plato

“Children always challenge me to live in the present.
I marvel at their ability to be fully present to me.
Their uninhibited expression of affection and their
willingness to receive it pull me directly into the moment
and invite me to celebrate life where it is found.
Whereas in the past coming home meant time to study,
to write letters, and to prepare for classes,
it now first of all means time to play.”
Henri Nouwen

“Then they brought little children to Him, that He might touch them;
but the disciples rebuked those who brought them. But when Jesus saw it,
He was greatly displeased and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me,
and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.'” Mark 10:13-14

Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child
will by no means enter it.” Luke 18:17
Love,

Sally

I have to tack on a P.S. here!

I wrote this blog post several days ago, planning to post it late tonight, Sunday. And this morning’s sermon just happened to be titled, “Play-Doh”! Each of us who attended received a block of the fun stuff to work with during a profound talk that did a lot of focusing on softening our hearts.

I came home and took this photo of my package of Play-Doh, along with the front of today’s church bulletin, and the little red blob of soft Play-Doh that spent an hour in my hand.

Kudos to Molly Peterson, our vibrant young Director of Student Ministries, who did a fantastic job of delivering the sermon since our pastors were away!

Crossroads

It’s early. I hop out of bed feeling great after of a good night’s rest. A whole fresh new day is ready to walk into.

All is well,

until . . .

What mess?

I walk into the kitchen and find the mess . . . again. How many times . . .?

And no, the pup didn’t do it.

How quick and easy the glowery dark cloud descends with its storm of anger and frustration. So much for the higher functions of my cerebral cortex. They nosedive into a worse mess than the small, irritating one in the kitchen.

I should go back to bed! I need a do-over.

I don’t get angry often and when I do, it’s a quiet, internalized “mad.” I’m not the confronting, haranguing type. Maybe I should be.

I go outside. In my PJs. Pace the concrete sidewalk. Complain a while, then pull in breaths of the cool morning air and pray.

It helps, but when I go inside and settle into a devotional time, the Lord opens His Word. I pray and open my Bible at random (but in this Hand-in-hand walk we’re on, there’s no such thing as “random”). It falls open to Jonah, chapter four, verse four.

My eyes land on this “Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Jonah’s answer was to go make himself a shelter, sit in its shade, and watch to see what would happen to the city. My answer is to ask, Why shouldn’t I be? But He makes me think.

To shorten Jonah’s story, the great city of Nineveh had devolved into a wickedness that the Lord could no longer tolerate. As His prophet, Jonah was to go and warn that city to repent, or be thrown down. And Jonah didn’t want to obey—he ran.

Jonah ended up having a whale of an adventure, literally, and doing exactly what the Lord told him to do. But when the people of Nineveh ended up being sorry and humbled themselves, God saw and relented. Jonah was not happy and wanted the city punished . . . which was why he was angry. Plus, he was probably tired, a little chewed up from being in a whale belly and all. Not to mention being worn out since it took him three days to walk through the huge city with the warnings. This time Jonah sat under a shady plant that the Lord provided.

So, I’m a little like Jonah sitting under the shade-giving plant that dies, only I pace the sidewalk and grumble, a lot.

There are many more comparisons and angles in Jonah’s story. We all have different levels of how we express anger and how we deal with it.

I’m reminded of my relationship not only with God, but to God.

In Genesis 1:26a it’s written “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”

We’re all fearfully and wonderfully made . . . in God’s image, according to His likeness.

Yes, things anger me—but like Him, I can be slow to anger, allow for compassion, give myself time to think, and try not to “sweat the small stuff” as my brother likes to say.

God created Jonah with the capacity for compassion for the plant that shaded Jonah. God created us with the same capacity.

The Lord had compassion for Nineveh. He knows every detail of my “mess,” and I can use some compassion and love and understanding. With the Lord’s help, I can talk with the mess-perpetrator again. Maybe things will change . . . or maybe I’ll just get better about not sweating the small stuff.

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” James 1:19 NKJV

How do you handle your anger?

Love,

Sally

Amazon Author Page for The Stonekeepers

 

The Driver’s Day

The morning is bright and cool as the scent of fall wafts through the open sunroof. On her way to an early appointment, The Driver has her tunes playing and she’s loving the solitude.

. . . Until a sight on the side of the road goes against the grain of normal and makes her look twice.

The woman she just passed was—
Really? Trying to hitch a ride?

No. Can’t be. Not safe these days.

But a glance into the rear view mirror reflects the young woman, her thumb waving in the air, and she isn’t alone.

The double-take restarts The Driver’s day with head-shaking wonder over the nudge to do something.

You’re kidding, Lord! Turn around, go back, and pick up that young woman and her two children?

The Driver’s not in the habit of giving strangers rides. Besides, her car is too small. She’ll be late. And what if the woman needs more than a ride . . .
Her excuses pelt down like rain.

She glides past, the mind-poking irritation turning into curiosity and compassion that has her turning her small two-door coupe around a block and a half later.

Surely someone will have picked them up by the time she gets back there.

But, no. This is still hers to do.

Emergency blinkers and right hand signal clicking away, she pulls over to the curb. With a prayer, The Driver shakes her head again, plasters on a brave, like-I-do-this-everyday smile, and opens the car door, motioning for the woman and her two children to get in.

There’s hustle and bustle and back packs and the fresh scent of scrubbed clean, smiling little faces, as “mom” wedges her two children into the cramped back seat and sits in the passenger seat.

“How far are you going? Where?”

Ann introduces herself. The gutsy, determined, scrappy mother of three (there’s a baby at home) had been right out there on the edge of the busy road during morning rush hour—thumbing!

She was absolutely going to get all of them to school—her two children to the local Christian Academy and herself to the community college—one way or the other.

The Driver, whose chin is still on the floorboards at this mama-thumber, learns that Ann is a Christian and full of a diamond-in-the-rough faith. Ann shares that her husband, who is taking care of the baby, is fresh-out of a rehab for drug problems, has no job, and she may give him another chance.

She wants so much more for herself and her family that not even lack of transportation will stand in her way—and she openly thanks God and The Driver for today’s ride.

The Driver, not so openly, thanks God too, for His nudge to do this thing.

What a wonder to meet someone so determined to pull herself up and out of her current circumstances.

Ann will make it. She’s diamond, gold, and granite. A rock in the midst of the swirl and growth and change in her world.

Ann says she’ll walk from here, but The Driver will have none of that and waits while Ann walks her children to the school doors and returns for her ride to the last stop . . . the community college campus.

It’s been a long time since Ann and her children were passengers in The Driver’s little car. Once in a while, The Driver gets to find out what happened to those she’s encountered. Not this time. But it’s good to think about that heavenly urging and to pray that Ann and her little ones had a good life, maybe even the one Ann envisioned for them all that bright autumn morning.

 ♥

I recently read that we should be praying and watching and looking for the things God is doing and asking Him if and how we might join Him to help. A little different than coming up with our own ideas of serving/helping/volunteering, isn’t it?

Some time after thinking about The Driver’s encounter and writing this post, I came to another reading. In My Utmost for His Highest for February 28: “We are not told to walk in the light of conscience or of a sense of duty, but to walk in the light as God is in the light. When we do anything from a sense of duty, we can back it up by argument; when we do anything in obedience to the Lord, there is no argument possible . . .”

It’s good when our “arguments” quickly fall by the wayside.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4-5 NKJV).

Are you paying attention to the nudges you have that you just know that you know are from God?

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

Peace Seekers

How about a post to warm you up and to turn your thoughts toward peace this cold December week? Most of us have so much to be thankful for, including warmth and peace. But maybe you’re edgy today.

Want to go boating with me? —well, maybe just curling up with a cup of something warm and tagging along in your imagination for a few minutes would be saner.

Does the stress of life sometimes send you searching for a little peace of mind and heart?

My husband and I needed a break. Time away.

A near-perfect day. Springtime, warm, early morning. I stuffed a cooler with water bottles, soft drinks, thick sandwiches, chips, and cookies while my husband loaded the car and boat with our gear. It had been a stressful couple of weeks, and I prayed that we’d truly relax and enjoy this time we’d carved out for some recreation. The coastline was beautiful as we drove to the inlet and launched the boat from a ramp near the south jetty. From there, we glided past buoys and markers, into the mouth of the inlet, and out into the Atlantic.

Jerry wanted to do some fishing, and I couldn’t wait to relax and soak up some fresh air and sunshine. As we moved farther away from Sebastian Inlet, and with the shoreline no longer in view, he idled down the purring engine, slowing the boat. I settled myself face down on the bow of the boat and let the warm breeze feather over me as I watched the water slide by. The face of the ocean was unusually smooth and mirrored huge fluffy clouds, more like the clouds of June than those of early April. I pushed close to the rail and watched the light swells of the sea, mesmerized.

“Hey, Sal, check that out!” Jerry pointed starboard across the water. I sat up and followed his gaze, not yet seeing what he saw.

But seconds later, we had company. Right beside the boat. Right beside me!

Dolphins! I could have touched them as they played in the foamy wake from the bow as we cut through the blue salt water. Satiny gray, arching, sounding, seeming to study me as much as I studied them. Three or four of them stayed with the boat maybe five minutes before Jerry cut the engine. We drifted, watching them until they disappeared beneath the azure waters, only to burst upward again, airborne, glistening in the sun a few yards away for more fun minutes of play—or maybe feeding.

Then, except for the gentle lapping of water against the sides of the boat, peaceful silence dropped around us. No breeze, no gulls, no splashes, only tranquil quietness, a calm in the midst of a blue sea that blended into the lighter blue of the sky from horizon to horizon.

Jerry sat in the stern, baiting a hook, rapt in his thoughts, and I melted into that silence, laying back on the bow letting praise and thankfulness rise, and body, mind, soul, and spirit bask in God’s precious gift of peace. Sweet, healing peace.

True Peace cannot be found apart from God. He offers us the gift of His Peace in the wondrous mysterious truth of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—sometimes through the crystalline purity of silence, sometimes through the beauty of His creation—always through His countless, limitless ways.

“This great and wide sea, in which are innumerable teeming things, living things both small and great. There the ships sail about; there is that Leviathan which You have made to play there” (Psalm 104:26).

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

What do you do when you when you’re looking for a little Peace?

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace”

(Isaiah 9:6).

A Baby is coming! So open your heart

Get ready with joy for the season to start

Stand aside for the angels, listen for their song

Let their melody fill you with praise all day long

Peace

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

Coats, Pillows, and a China Cabinet

I’m so happy to have Ann Cooper McCauley as my guest again. Reading through the posts on Ann’s excellent Morning Glory Blog, I came across this one that I especially love, and Ann graciously agreed to allow me to repost it here on Everyone Has a Story Blog. I guarantee that it will lift your faith to a new level!

So, pour yourself a cup of something warm. You’re in for a post full of miracles! Here’s Ann’s Coats, Pillows, and a China Cabinet~

The church we attended gave each of our children a warm coat, but not just a warm coat. Beautiful coats.

Coats they would wear for years to come.

They also gave the kids new bed pillows. You wouldn’t think such a gift would excite children, but they were needed, our children appreciative. Our oldest son was in Iraq, and this same body of believers sent a care package to him. Many families in the church sent gift cards for us to buy Christmas for the kids. What a loving and thoughtful group of people. We were blessed to know them.

God doesn’t always use a mailbox to send blessings…

But our problems were bigger than those who loved us. For the first time in more than twenty-five years of marriage, my husband was without employment. The calendar on the kitchen fridge flapped each time I passed, a reminder that the rent was due. We had needs no one could conceive, and we were helpless to do anything but pray.

Instead of meeting those needs, God seemed distant. His word to us always the same, Work for me. Work for me. So each morning, we used our dwindling cash for gasoline, drove to our church, and worked there as though we were employed. We had vision for a family and children’s ministry and spent days, cleaning, organizing, painting, and preparing.

 

Late one evening a truck pulled into the yard and began backing to our front porch. Two sweet people from the church hopped out and began unloading a dining room suite. We were overwhelmed. This couple, in the real-estate business, had sold a home in which the owners had left behind a table, chairs, and china cabinet to be given away.

Only God knew I’d always wanted a china cabinet. I had never told a single person. That evening after the kids fell asleep I took my china out of storage boxes and carefully placed each piece into the lighted cabinet. Finished, I turned the house lights off and stood back. Lovely. But my thoughts were not so lovely. Lacking the beauty of faith and dependence, tears welled in my eyes, and I whispered, “Lord, why would you give me a china cabinet and no house to live in?” I was as fragile as one of my china cups. The fear of moving to a homeless shelter loomed even as a rumble of laughter escaped my throat at the thought of the question.

After I crawled into bed, my husband told me we would have to try and sell the dining room suite. My shoulders sunk as I looked him in the eye. I choked up and tears prickled. “That was a personal gift from my Father. Only He knew what it meant. He’s trying to tell us something. We can’t sell it. We just can’t. This was my Christmas present.”

 

The next morning, we rose early to work at the church. As I climbed into the van and reached for my seat belt, my husband leveled his gaze on mine and said, “Aren’t you going to get our rent money from the mailbox?”

God doesn’t always use a mailbox to send blessings…

 I eyed him right back, and my ire rose. He was being sarcastic. His practical mind screamed to sell the dining room suite, and I stood in his way. I snatched the stack of letters from the mailbox and returned to the van. A Christmas card stood out among the bills. As I tore it open, my jaw went slack. There was a check for $2,000 dollars inside the card. This money came from people who called themselves secret agents. Believers, who hardly knew us at all, they lived in another state and were not privy to our circumstances.

Sometimes God uses a mailbox…

Everything was paid and on time. But our living conditions were not changed. Another month rolled by, and bills came due a second time. God kept saying, Work for me. Work for me. A second envelope came in the mail that month. This letter was from another family who lived in a totally different state. We had not heard from these people in years. And inside the letter was a check for $2,200 dollars. God gave us a raise. Another month passed and bills came due. This time God gave Randy a job that paid nineteen dollars an hour.

God didn’t help us because of our service to the church. God didn’t help us because we had adopted children, or because we homeschooled. God didn’t help because we were special, or because we held a rare measure of faith. The opposite was true.

No. Our Father wants to freely give. And as we admire qualities of hard work, loyalty, and growth in our own children, so does He. But He gives unconditionally because He’s Daddy. The work at the church was to keep us occupied in a good thing while He worked on our financial miracles. What was this truly about? Our level of trust was challenged.

You see, the provisions were always present and on their way before we could see or touch them.

It’s humbling to share about our needy times, but it’s exhilarating to share what God is willing and able to do for His kids.

What have you walked through that confirms He is real and holds your hand?

Ann and I would love it if you’d leave a comment!

Previously published on anncoopermccauley.com shared with permission.

Thank you, Ann for sharing your post with us!  Be sure and visit Ann’s blog and enjoy her delightful sense of humor as she shares her many stories. Here’s a little about Ann.

Ann McCauley married her sweetheart thirty-eight years ago. The McCauley’s have seven children, four internationally adopted. Ann’s first stories were published by Baker/ Revell in the book, Loved by Choice—True Stories That Celebrate Adoption. She led a local chapter of The Compassionate Friends, a national organization for grieving parents, and a grief counseling support group, Wellsprings. Ann, a songwriter for many years, has led praise and worship, shared her original music with churches, and performed in fundraising for Holt International Adoption Agency. Mrs. McCauley has shared her adoption and homeschooling experiences with churches, rotary clubs, women’s seminars, and homeschool support groups. She’s been a speaker and singer throughout Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Ann’s motivational speaker service, The Power Behind the Story, can be found on her website. She is now taking bookings for engagements. Having written three historical novels, Ann hopes one will be picked up by a publisher soon. Her agent is Diana L. Flegal of Hartline Literary Agency.
Website and Blogs: anncoopermccauley.com

Listen for His Whispers

“The lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field . . .” (Proverbs 27:26)

“You have given him his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips” (Psalm 21:2).

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

Scripture from NKJV
A photo from Ann's Morning Glory Blog

A photo from Ann’s Morning Glory Blog