Looking Ahead

It was a simple lesson really.

There were a few things weighing heavy on my mind and I had kind of fretted myself into a place of worry. As I was walking the pups in the early morning I was somewhere between praying and talking to myself.

A couple of decisions needed to be made and I was anxious about making the right ones and thought to myself that I wanted to look back a year from now and laugh at how silly I was being.

Barely had the thought finished when this verse sounded in my head,

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” ~ Proverbs 31:25

Why wait to laugh about this thing next year? Why not laugh now knowing that God’s providence can be trusted? Don’t anticipate looking back. Look forward with anticipation, knowing God is faithful.

Later as I noodled on that whole exchange another verse came to mind.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” ~ Psalm 119:105

Sometimes we can get ourselves so worked up but if we have been faithful to be women of the Word it will indeed come back to our mind and show us the way we ought to go.

So here is your encouragement for the weekend, dear reader. Look forward from whatever situation you are in knowing that God is faithful to complete the work He is using your current circumstances to accomplish.

Think On These Things ~ John 21

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 

Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 

Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 

He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 

That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 

The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 

So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 

Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 

This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 

He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 

(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 

When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 

Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 

So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Some Day

Some days I don’t know whether to apologize to my children for the kind of parent I am being or call my parents and apologize for the kind of child I was.

I should probably do both.

Some days, when the weather is so very gray and rainy like it was yesterday, I just want to read and cook or bake. And not necessarily anything good for you but leaning more on the indulgent side. I didn’t bake though. A Florida friend is coming to visit today and I will probably make a pound cake. Oddly enough what I am looking forward to the most is the smell. A freshly baked cake smells almost as good as bread coming out of the oven.

On Sunday Rob read a familiar passage from the last chapter of the book of John and I have been thinking about it the last couple of days. The disciples had been fishing all night but they had no fish to show for it. Jesus, whom they did not recognize at first, told them to put their net out on the right side of the boat and boy, did they score a mess of fish! And more importantly they recognized Christ. Peter was so excited he jumped into the water to get to Him as fast as he could. Once they arrived at the shore the Bible says this,

John 21:9

“When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread.”

That’s what jumped out to me. Do you see it? Jesus already had fish but He invited the disciples to bring their fish to the table, so to speak, after instructing them on where to catch some.

God suffers no lack yet He graciously invites us to join Him in the work of restoring and renewing the world. Not only that, He provides all that we need and equips us to do so.

How humbling is that? We should approach our days with the trembling excitement of a child being invited into the kitchen to help create the most unbelievably delicious fare.

Someday we will see ever so clearly all the ways that God allowed us to be part of His redemptive work. I think we might be surprised at how He used our to-do lists.

Learning New Things

Did y’all know my brand new son-in-law is a photographer? He is and a really good one. He’s a young whippersnapper though and has given me grief over the fact that I don’t use Lightroom (the industry standard) for my editing. All in jest of course, and much love, because he wanted to marry my daughter 😉

He is actually going to second shoot a wedding with me in July though and in the interest of making life easier for both us in that endeavour I made sure my computer was up to snuff and could handle the Adobe program and I am now officially doing things like a grownup photographer.

I’m shooting in RAW and editing in Lightroom.

Turns out that young whippersnapper knew what he was talking about when he kept telling me I just needed to do it. I still have a bit of a learning curve and as of yet I haven’t worked on anything involving people but I love love love what I have been able to do so far just with some flower pictures I took in my yard.

Between the extension tubes and Lightroom I am feeling all fancy and the clover in my yard has never looked prettier.

I don’t do a whole bunch of editing but I do think I like what I have the freedom to do since the file is larger and gives me more information to work with if I do want to play with it.

I know, I know. I’m just geeking out over a few pictures and new techniques and skill sets and it’s probably not terribly interesting to you. But seriously, look at the scope of detail that God put into a simple little clover.

The swirl and flare of each petal. The movement of color from stalk to stem. Even the beautiful tea stained shade of the dying flower.

How much more does He care about the details, the smalls ones and the big ones, about your life?

I’m still hung up on the wonder leading to wisdom I guess. Because how can we not be in awe of the God who created this and not trust Him enough to live the life He calls us to? A life of genuine love and real forgiveness? One flush with steadfastness and truth, beauty, and goodness.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

We have been created with even more attention and care than the flowers and He has work for us to do, good works. So get busy. You’re supposed to glorify Him today. Go make someone marvel at what He has done.

Seeing Ourselves

For some reason April and May are busy season around our house. For the family in general and specifically for Rob. I think it has something to do with the end of the school year and the wrapping up of other things that follow a similar calendar.

Whatever the reason I know that there are times when what my husband needs from me is to not need anything from him. The way I can be his helpmeet is to not add much more demands on his time or room in his brain. And this is ok and not a bad thing at all because honestly it is just for a season. I don’t mind doing it for him because I know he needs it. Occasionally however, it happens that the season extends itself a little bit further and we fall into a pattern where I get lost in the tyranny of the urgent.

When I say occasionally what I am really saying is not often at all but it has happened this way a few times over the course of our marriage and recently we found ourselves in that place and my feelings got hurt. At no point did I feel as if my husband no longer loved me or wanted to be with me but I felt like it had become too easy for him to put me aside to deal with all the other stuff because he knew I would be there. It wasn’t malicious on his part rather it was presumptuous love. He realized it had crossed a line, gave me some room to share what I was thinking and feeling, and asked forgiveness so we’re good and all is well.

Later that evening I sat down to work on my Bible study and started reading over the questions.

What do your attitude and approach to your personal Bible study reveal about you and what you expect of Jesus?

I realized I was a few days behind in the reading and questions. Life has been busy and with one thing and another I had let that time slip knowing that it would be there when I got to it.

Can you see where this is going?

It was as if the Holy Spirit put a mirror in front of me. I had let the busy-ness of life take away the time I had been spending in prayer and study knowing that He would be faithful to be there when I got to it.

I was guilty of a presumptuous love all my own without even realizing it.  God isn’t standing around with a calendar and a stop watching recording the moments we do or don’t come to Him in prayer and Bible study but He does call us to pursue wisdom, to seek Him, every day. Not for His sake but our own because He knows we need that time with Him to function well and to do all the other things of life in a way that is pleasing to Him. It’s not just so we can check it off a list anymore than Rob needs to mark me off his list of responsibilities…prepare sermon, visit this parishioner, spend time with wife. A marriage is supposed to be a place where the husband and wife can take refuge from the world, to rest and restore each other. So is our time in prayer and study.

I had a moment where I could have just shrugged off what I was being convicted over. I could have looked past my reflection in that mirror and focused on the pile of laundry that needed folding or the drooping flowers in the vase on the mantle that needed watering. I could have looked past my own sin and continued to focus on what had been consuming my time in the first place. Or, like my husband, I could hear what was being said and seek forgiveness.

I am grateful that God is kind to speak to us in our sin with gentleness. I am blessed with a husband who is willing to humbly show me how to respond.

Rarely do these things pop out at us unexpectedly from no where. God is gracious in drawing our attention to things early on if we will just listen and hear. Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love He calls to us before we can wander too far.

May we stand ready, eager to hear from our King.

How Do We Respond?

There is a lot going on in our world today that is demanding a response from us. If your facebook feed is anything like mine than you have been inundated with status updates sharing various opinions about bathrooms and Target, as well as related links to various blog posts or memes.

I’ve been surprised, not surprised, and disappointed with the things I’ve read. But today, after having a real live in person face to face conversation with friends about the whole issue I figured out what my response is.

Ready to hear it?

Here you go.

No matter whether we boycott Target or not I pray that we respond with a sense of what God considers just and not some red neck rambo reaction. I pray that how we, as God’s people, respond is governed by the love of kindness that He has shown to us while we were yet enslaved and held in bondage by our sin so that we may continue to walk in humbleness along the path He has set before us.

To Live Is Christ

It would be foolish to assume an easy answer.

In some ways it’s a very complicated issue yet the longer I have twisted and turned it over in my head the more I have come to conclude that the answer, while certainly not easy, is rather simple.

There are nuances and shades of all sorts of stuff that I will never even begin to understand. I am, however, smart enough to know that it is not just women and children seeking asylum. There is a potential threat in allowing refugees to enter our country. I am also smart enough to realize that not everyone of them are terrorist in waiting. Islamic? Yes, but not radical terrorist. No more than everyone who uses the name Christian is of Westboro. The vast majority of them are desperate people literally running for their lives.

Just as I want to do all that I can protect my children I cannot help but imagine the peril these mothers have faced. First to be hunted down and forced to flee their homes and then to make such an exhausting and terrifying journey, all in the hope of keeping their children alive. The fathers and husbands who have done all that they absolutely can and given up everything to protect their families.

I take it back. I can’t even begin to imagine what they have lived through.

There are people who will be making decisions and deciding for us as a nation how we will handle the refugee crisis. We can all be as involved as we can and should be in the process of making that decision but in the end it will be our task to accept whatever the general consensus is and act accordingly.

And this is the simple conclusion I have come too.

May God grant me the opportunity to reach out my hand to the needy.

May He give me the opportunity to offer peace in His name.

May He grant opportunity to declare His goodness to those who do not know Him.

May I be light in a world dark with fear and uncertainty.

Because He took on flesh to meet my need.

Because Christ died to bring peace between God and man.

Because He spoke into time and history and called my name.

Because He is the light of the world.

Because we are to imitate Him.

And may He grant me courage to stand in the face of whatever evil or threat that could possibly come. Because I want my children to see me follow after the way of the cross and not the media induced fear of the world.

I would rather die offering the love of Christ than live having withheld it.

“And the King will answer them, 
Truly, I say to you, 
As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,
you did it to Me.”
~ Matthew 25:40

My Life For Yours

The way of the cross is a paradox…a call to death so that life may be found.

Recently, I read this article by Pastor Wilson. In it he makes the case that the way of the Gospel is “my life for yours” as opposed to “your life for mine” which is the way of the world.

Not many of us will have the opportunity to jump in front of a speeding car to save the life of a child that has wandered into the street or to take a bullet meant for someone else.

No, our way of giving up our lives looks a lot less heroic and has a lot less fanfare.

It looks like setting aside our own tiredness at the end of a long day to spend time with our children.

It looks an awful lot like forsaking our own much desired moments of solitude to have a conversation with a friend that is hurting or is weary so they can be encouraged.

It looks like laying down our own desires and wants so that they don’t become a burden to those around us.

It looks a whole lot like giving up of ourselves for the good of those around us.

Most of us know this though. We’ve been in church long enough that we understand the concept and even manage to do it upon occasion when the opportunity presents itself.

But here is what I am thinking. I am thinking that we aren’t supposed to wait for those moments to present themselves. I’m thinking we should be out hunting those moments down. To borrow a phrase from the old timers, we should be beating the bushes for ways to lay our lives down for the well being of those around us.

Because we are people of the cross we should look for the hard ways to love those around us. Because we follow the way of the Gospel we should seek out opportunity to live in such a way that it cost us something. Because we want to imitate Christ we live lives that declare, “My life for yours” in our homes, our work places, and our churches.