Forward

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“Forgetting what lies behind…”

Not forget, like “don’t even bring it to mind ever again,” but forget like “don’t cling to it, or let it cling to you.”

Sometimes it’s the “good” things I need to forget.

Sometimes, dwelling on how good things used to be brings me down, because now seems so much harder.

The trouble with dwelling on how things “used to be” is that it makes it tricky to see the blessings in how things are now. Harder isn’t always worse, in fact, harder is often where the best joys are found.

So my word for this coming year is “forward.

“…straining forward to what lies ahead,” because ahead is where hope is found.

Ahead is undiscovered and unblemished.

Ahead is the prize…the “prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Forward to all the blessings and joy the Lord has in store, regardless of the road conditions.

Forward.

Still Small Voice

DSCN1446.urbaneStanding in the kitchen at the end of a long day, dinner simmering in the skillet, I happen to look out the window and a bright spot catches my eye.

The early evening light has caught the tips of some yellowing leaves, illuminating them like glimmers of gold.

“Are you listening? Do you see?”

That Still Small Voice, that I too often forget to listen for.

“I love you.”

I love You, too, Lord.  Thanks for reminding me.

Firefly Joy

Image courtesy of Denae at http://arippleonthewater.blogspot.com/2012/05/bugs.html

Image courtesy of Denae

So I started this joy dare thing, 31 days of joy for the month of October, and I’m on day three which is to think of “a gift caught, let go, mid-way.”

That got me thinking about fireflies.

Do you remember those warm mid-summer nights when your back yard was full of little blinking electric lights?  Remember how you’d catch them and put them in a mason jar, poke air holes in the lid, and spend the rest of the evening marveling at the super-natural glow emitting from the tail end of those little bugs?  And then, at the end of the night, mom or dad would say, “OK, time to let them go.”   That was always a bit disappointing, mostly because it meant it was time for bed, but also because it meant letting the source of that evening’s enjoyment go.  Of course, we knew it was best that we did let those fireflies go, otherwise they would die.  But it was still sad to take of the lid and dump the jar out.

There’re things in life like that, joys that we aren’t quite ready to be done with, even if we know it’s best.  I’ve had friendships like that, and recently had that experience with my Etsy shop…right smack dab in the middle of the enjoying, for one reason or another, I had to let it go.  I know the Lord had my best interest in mind, but it was a little sad.  Sometimes I understood the blessing in the letting go, sometimes not; guess that’s where faith comes in.  The point is, I need to remember to count the time I did have in the enjoyment as a gift, without letting the loss steal new joy.

It’s also a good reminder to not hold our blessing too tightly.  Some gifts are meant to be enjoyed for a season, so dive in and soak up the joy, but never hold them so close that we can’t let them go when it’s time.  Hold them like fireflies…those memories last a lifetime, and always bring a smile to my heart!

Bloom in the Holding Pattern

I’ve been in a bit of a funk recently.

I’m ashamed to say that I can get like that sometimes, when life ahead seems uncertain, with no clear direction, no noticeable results from what I’ve been doing, when I’m not sure which direction to head or if I’ve been going in the right direction at all.

But this morning, while I was having my quiet time, I was reminded that God is always at work, even when we can’t see it.

That thought reminded me of something that happened last week on the way home from our island mission.

We had just landed at the airport where we had a lay-over and were taxiing into the terminal when the captain addressed us over the speaker system telling us that we were going to have to sit tight for a bit.  Apparently “something” was going on at the gate we were to debark on and it needed to be sorted before we could deplane.

We had no idea what was going on.  We couldn’t see anything, we didn’t have a radio to hear any of the communications about the issue.  All we could do was sit there, hot, tired, anxious to be on our way, and wait.  Just wait.

But, despite the fact we couldn’t see it, work was being done to prepare the area for our arrival.  There was very likely a whole crew of very busy folks scurrying around, clearing things out, setting things up, getting ready for us.  We couldn’t see it, but it was happening.

That’s what life is like sometimes.  You can’t see what God’s doing behind the scenes, how He’s laying things down in preparation for what’s coming.  You might even be in a holding pattern, sort of wandering around, not being terribly productive, hangin’ in there, just waiting until you get the “all clear” and direction for what’s next.

The important thing to remember at times like these is that God IS at work, even though we can’t see it.  He’s preparing the way, getting ready to keep His promises.

That got me thinking about what promises I could be holding onto right now, while sitting in my own holding pattern.  Jeremiah 29:11 came to mind:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Now, my pastor has always taught us…when you’re looking at a verse, in order to understand its full meaning, look at the passage surrounding it.  So, when I opened up to Jeremiah 29, I started in verse 1.

Jeremiah wrote a letter to the people recently exiled to Babylon, giving them a message from the Lord.  “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce.  Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.  But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”  (vs. 5-8)

I read this passage and a thought immediately came to my mind…

“Bloom where you’re planted.”

We’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating, and it certainly gave me a boost this morning.  While I’m waiting, I can be busy “blooming.”

And the really neat thing…the thing I can cling to while I’m waiting and blooming…God made a promise.  He’s busy right now, working things out, and in the right time, just the right time, He will reveal His plans and give me direction for my good and His glory.  He says it right here in His word.  All I have to do is hang in there and keep blooming.

How Majestic is Your Name in All the Earth!

There’s something about visiting a different part of this planet that makes your take a fresh and revitalizing look at this world Our Lord created.

I’m on the island of Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands, on a mission trip with some of our church family, hubby and dear daughter at my side.  This place is beautiful.

The water here is a shade of blue that I’ve only ever seen in gemstones, and just as clear.  The people we’ve met embrace and welcome us as if we are dear friends.  And the worship…

“Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens!

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!”

Psalm 150:1,6

Even more than the beauty of creation, is the beauty of souls united in worship.

“Oh, LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”

Psalm 8:1

Lord of the Shop

“Lord, the booth rent is due soon,
and all the accounts are empty…
and there’s that craft fair fee I owe,
and no orders are coming in,
and there’s the fabric and hardware I need for the new design,
and…”

“Do you trust Me?”

“Yes, Lord, but,”

“Do you trust Me?”

“Yes, Lord.”

“Then wait.”

“….O.K., Lord. I’ll wait.”

So I waited.

And the orders came in,
the rent got paid,
the fabric and hardware were purchased,
the craft fair fee will be in the mail by the end of the week,
and I’ve got two special orders waiting to be filled.

“Thank You, Lord.”

“You’re welcome, precious one.
Next time, wait first.

The Afterward

The sun came out today.

It’s been raining for a week and a half,
pouring, actually.
But today, almost on purpose, it seems,
especially for her ‘home-going’ celebration,
the sun came out.

We remembered special times in her life,
special ways that she touched each of our lives.
We rejoiced that she’s home now…
home with our Lord.
We let her earthly shell return to the earth,
to the dust God first created man from,
and then we gathered together,
broke bread, shared memories,
tried to hold back the tears,
but doled out hugs generously.

And now the dishes are done,
the left-overs packed away,
good-byes are said,
and we’re left with our thoughts…

Lord, we’re so happy she’s with You,
but we’re sure gonna miss her…
a lot.