Waiting!

everglades

 

Waiting!

Waiting is probably the most difficult thing for me. When an idea comes in my head, I can already see it to completion. It’s sometimes difficult for me to realize the time and effort that is required to get to the end result! I will sketch out an image on paper and expect Sammy to magically get it done by the weekend, but he lovingly explains everything that has to happen and it may take weeks, but it turns out to be so much better than it would have been if the process would have been rushed.

Sammy balances me out in this area and has proven to be the patient one in our relationship over the years. He, too, sees the final outcome, but also realizes the work and detail that has to go into making it right. If I were in charge, whatever it is that I’m attempting to do, would no doubt get done, but it most likely would involve errors and sloppiness.

Most often, the things we have to wait on are well worth the wait…….having a baby, waiting for a garden harvest, allowing treatments to attack an illness, working on that college degree or saving money for that down payment on a first home!

Waiting creates many emotions. In my case, often it’s impatience since I’m bent to want things so quickly. My anxious heart takes hold, and is only quieted sometimes by my husband’s rational perspective or God’s comforting embrace assuring me that He’s with me in the waiting.

Waiting can also create in us a discipline of trust. If it’s something material, like finishing a driveway (our current situation), then it’s trusting in the process and in the workers doing the job. Yet, if it’s a spiritual matter, waiting can be a time of resting in God’s timing and realizing that He is in control. I’m reminded often that God sees the entire picture, when we only see a portion.

Not only do scripture tell us to wait and trust, but it also tells us to be strong in the waiting.

Psalms 27:14 “Wait for the Lord, be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Isaiah 40:31 “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

In the rush of things, we would most likely not have time for God, but it’s in the waiting that we can quiet our souls and look to Him for strength and courage as we wait. God can teach us in those waiting times if we allow him to enter into our rushed lives and be that calm voice of reason that we so desperately need.

So as I wait, I pray that my complaints and impatience will be minimal and my trust in God would be paramount. If waiting on God sharpens and increases my faith, then I welcome the waiting.

Colossians 1:11 “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy…”

It’s One of those Days!

Do you ever have days when you can’t seem to retrace the last hour of your life….your mind was somewhere else…..maybe you were driving and you realized that for the past hour or so, it was all a blur! How frightening! I’ve done that more times than I can count. No matter how focused we need to be on the present, sometimes our hearts and minds are pulling us away.

This week…this month…this year has been a blur at times.  So much heart ache and struggles and to be honest….spiritual warfare has been thick around here! I’ve always been taught that when God is doing some amazing things, that the enemy will be working over time!

Our daughter and family are coming in to town this week, so I’ve had a running checklist on my kitchen counter as well as in my mind…..cut grass…power wash patio…plant flowers…clean fridge and bathrooms….wash sheets….oh…and buy a new comforter for the guest room.

I hopped in the car and trekked over to Tuesday Morning…one of my all time favorite stores…and picked out a white comforter for the guest bedroom.  I decided, like always, to walk down every single aisle…just in case I found something else…and I always do. Today it was 2 for 1 pool loungers! Tuesday Morning was full of people, and it was difficult to get through the aisles.

I checked out and got back in my car to come home.  I suddenly was aware that I had on flip flops, which I haven’t worn for several weeks because of a skin cancer I had removed on the top of my foot.  It also felt like they were oddly large on my feet and were kind of flopping around on the peddles below.

At the stop sign, I glanced down at my feet and realized that I had accidentally slipped on our son, Austin’s, huge “man” flip flops! For goodness sakes, I had been flopping all around Tuesday Morning up and down every aisle and I never even noticed it!

Instead of being disturbed for my total lack of awareness, I smiled and even laughed a little at the thought of my absentmindedness.  When I slipped on those large flops when I left my home, my mind was totally thinking of something else.

I was also reminded that I need to keep my thoughts captive. I too often allow circumstances to direct my thoughts elsewhere  (mostly on worry) and lose focus of where I need to be. unnamed

Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

The Old Oak Tree

oaktree.jpg

When I was a little girl, growing up in South Alabama, there was this old oak tree in a field adjacent to my parents’ land where I would go and find respite. To get to this tree, I had to pass through two fenced fields, across a 2 acre garden, cross a dirt road and jump a ditch…but it was all worth the effort. (Something similar to the tree above)

You see, this tree was not like any other tree! This tree had a large, flat piece of wood across two low hanging, thick branches.  The tree branches hung low enough that even as a child, it was easy to climb on top of the platform. The crown of the tree extended wide, and covered the area with complete shade. It was nice and secluded, a perfect hideout!

I spent many days in that tree with childhood friends, Gail, Kim, Lisa, Lorie and Kathy.  It was like our “club” house! Many hours leading up to the sun going down, were spent giggling, telling stories and simply being young girls.

My most memorable times spent in that old, oak tree were those spent  alone, reading a good book, praying or simply taking a nap on a hot summer day. There were some days that I would be stirred from my slumber hearing my mother’s voice calling me home for supper.

I learned as a child, that having time away from the everyday grind of chores and worries of life was so important. I believe that God formed us with an innate desire to pull away from the cares of this world, retreat, and fix our eyes on him.

To this day, my heart still longs for time away to reflect, pray, spend time with God, admire his handiwork and acknowledge his presence.

These days, my old oak tree is my back yard swing, my hammock over our deck,  the park, or sitting on a bench by the bay. But I still make time to retreat. It remains one of those “must haves” in my life.

God has something to say about being still.

1 Samuel 12:16 Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!

Psalm 62:5-6 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.

Exodus 14:14 “The LORD will fight for you while you keep still.”

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God!

The old oak tree still stands tall, and the branches hang even lower, but it is now on someone’s private property.  When I visit Alabama, I visit that special place and reminisce. I’m thankful that God afforded me fond memories of my childhood that formed me into the person that I am today.

Lost and Found!

I’m so thankful for the time I’ve had to spend with family recently. I was just able to spend a few days with my aging parents in Alabama…..and it was good. Can I tell you, Alabama in the country is sweet….the pine trees….the quietness….the stars!!!! This time, I went alone, but the trip there was refreshing as I prayed, listened to talk radio or blaring worship music my entire trip! I left the windows open most of the way, and as I started west on interstate 10, I could smell the pine.

After a few days of cooking chicken and dumplings, peach cobbler and biscuits and gravy, it was time to return home.  I love trips, but I always love coming home.  I split my trip in two when I travel alone, and always stop at the same Hampton Inn in Ocala.  They pretty much know Sammy and I.  The following morning, I decided to get up early to get ahead of the traffic in Orlando, so I was showered, packed and headed down for breakfast by 6:30.  I noticed as I sat down to eat, a very important item was missing from my luggage! My buddy pillow!!!! I pretty much panicked!!  I take this little U shaped pillow with me everywhere! I can’t sleep without it. It’s one of those memory foam neck pillows that you just can’t stop squeezing!

Without even thinking, I left my luggage unattended and headed back to my room.  As I turned the corner of the long hall toward my room I saw it…..there it was…so little…on the floor where I dropped it in the middle of the hallway. I smiled and was relieved, but felt a little silly! It’s so funny that even as adults we have things that are extra special to us and trump more important things in our life! I mean, after all, I left all of my luggage, including my computer in the hotel lobby to go after my old, worn U shaped pillow.

pillow

I was reminded of the story of the lost coin in the book of Luke.

The Parable of the Lost Coin

Luke 15:8-10 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

I love how God uses the simple, everyday experiences in my life to remind me that each one of us is important to him. Whenever someone crosses the line of faith at our church, I always envision the angels singing, clapping and rejoicing!

Refuge

As I was reading through Proverbs today, I read this:

Proverbs 14:26

“Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress,
    and for their children it will be a refuge.”

I don’t ever remember reading this before, but it spoke to me.  I needed to hear this.  Have you ever mulled over the past, contemplating if you had made a difference? Have you ever questioned if you had put enough time into your kids, teaching them, preparing them for life, showing them the love of Christ?

Well, I’ve wondered. The “more mature you become” (older), the more you reflect on the past.  At least I have! There’s no turning back. You can’t change the past.  It’s important that you get it as right as possible the first time.  But in reality, it’s a done deal….you can’t go back and rewrite your life and the “what ifs”….

In Philippians 3:13-14 it reminds me that we need to forget what is behind and look forward….because we CAN make a difference going forward, no matter how flawed our past may appear.

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Because of God’s grace, I know that He is faithful, even when we lack faithfulness.  He is patient, when we are not. He is complete, when we are lacking. He is strong when we are weak.

So…going forward…I pray that our children will always find our home, their childhood home, their family, and more importantly…our faith… to be a fortress, …not because we were a perfect family (not even close)…but because we serve a mighty God….

Ephesians 3:20

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”

flowerQueen of the Night (variation)

This flower……so beautiful, stark, striking and aromatic! This plant was given to my husband and I from his parents.  They told us that this particular plant only blooms once a year, and when it does, it blooms at night and then when daylight comes…it shrivels up and drops off! What beauty to only last for such a short time….and if you by chance miss it…well then….you have to wait until next year!

These last several weeks have been a whirlwind to say the least!  One of our pastor’s was diagnosed with a small bleed on his brain which caused minor strokes, our finance director was also diagnosed with something similar and resulting in mini strokes.  Another of our pastor’s wives was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and has since started aggressive treatments that have made her very sick.  A cherished friend was killed while riding her bike with her husband leaving 2 teenagers without their mother. One of Sammy’s classmates from high school contacted him, requesting he come to the hospital.  The friend’s wife had been feeling tired a week before, and found out she had leukemia.  Following a few days of chemo, she began to bleed in her brain, was on life support and has since passed. A dear friend and co teacher’s son was in a devastating car accident and is in a coma.  So much tragedy and so many questions.

In the midst of all of these tragedies and life’s struggles, a flower blooms in our back yard.  We almost missed it.  We weren’t interested in walking around enjoying our yard while all of this heartache was happening all around us.  But by chance….or by God’s nudging, Sammy happened to see it early this morning and ran out to take a picture before it wilted and dropped from it’s stem. I’m so thankful that he did.  All of these families are experiencing such difficult circumstances. Every moment is a gift to cherish.  All of the things in life….money, possessions, status completely fade away when faced with deep, discouraging life’s struggles. The simple things given to us by God become the most important things….our children, our loved ones, our friends…and the chance to catch a glimpse of a beautiful flower in our back yard, that only blooms once a year at night….Learning day by day, that God is in control.

 

Stuff Happens!

Stuff does happen….when you think that things are looking up and going relatively smoothly in your life…bam…you get hit with another discouraging bit of news or a disturbing word…I’m sure I’m not alone in this and we all have our burdens to bear and our thorn in the flesh…but after listening to our pastor last night…I’m vividly reminded that God is sooooo much bigger than our biggest problem here on this earth…
Rick Blackwood/Christ Fellowship Miami, Florida..

A.Jesus is present in the fun!

B.Jesus is present when stuff goes wrong!

II.Focus on His presence not the problem.

A.Don’t pull the problem so close.

B.Remember: His presence is here and I am not alone.

Oh God as I face my problems this week, empower me to remember: I am not alone. Your presence is in me. Help me to keep my problems pushed back so I can see your presence and your power. God you are greater and God you are stronger than any other.

I certainly needed this reminder!!