On Waiting For A Convenient Time

When I was 30, I received my first Bible. It wasn’t something that I’d always wanted; rather, I was curious about something my husband valued—spending daily time reading it. That was a new, unfamiliar, and to be honest, overwhelming idea to me. Even after he gave it to me, several days passed before I made time to give it a try. . . .You would think I was about to attempt reading a foreign language! (All of that story is in my book Becoming A Peaceful Mom.)

That particular time is my life was the most challenging season I had ever faced. In my head, I pushed back, rationalizing that giving some of my time to study scripture would just have to wait. Yet a yearning stirred in my heart, that I felt I had to respond to. There wasn’t a convenient window of time that presented, nor has there been since. I determined to take this step and God made the way.

Why am I sharing this now—at the beginning of December, when the added flurry of gift buying and decorating abounds—as yet another thing to build into your day?

Because . . . This life is busy all the time and hard a lot of the time.

Because . . . God wants to lead you and me through the busy and hard, such that we learn to abide in His Life in us.

Because . . . The world broadcasts many messages that distract us from the most important relationship we are created to have and the most important message we are to believe.

Because . . . God wants you to known Him personally—to know His character, His voice, and the depth of His love for you, for me.

Beginning with the Book of Ruth, I roamed through books of my Bible, journaling facets of God’s character portrayed in amazing and true stories. The more I read, the more I realized how much I didn’t know about God—things He said and did. The more I read the more I was gratified, as He helped me grasp how much He loves me, loves us.

My hesitant start to open God’s breathed-words, became a passionate personal pursuit to know Him. I had no idea what I had been missing. I had no idea how much more this relationship could be. I had no idea of how powerfully God moves through His words.

“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3.16–19)

Lovingly, God waits for us to decide to give Him some of the time that He has given us. He knows our hurdles, as He knew mine. He will lead you through—even during the added busyness of this season.

Dear God,
You see my heart and my thoughts, and you love me right where I am. Thank you. Help me step closer to You, to know you. Amen.

My Mom

For a couple of weeks now, I’ve attempted to write this post, but each effort brought a waterfall of tears or a heavy weight to my heart, such that it seemed hard to breathe. On June 19, my sweet mom took her last breath on this earth and is now in heaven with Jesus. I am sad and miss her every single day. I still reach for my phone to call her.

Yet, peace and gratitude to God anchor this space in my heart that grieves. God gave our family many rich years with Mom. She was 85. In her last few years, His comfort and strength carried me as she endured the heart-breaking changes that Alzheimer’s inflicts. And in her last days God answered my final prayers—that she would know who I was as long as she lived here, that I could be with Mom in her last days, and that she would die peacefully in her sleep.

“…let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves…” (I Peter 3.4–5a)

In so many ways, this sums up my view of Mom. She wasn’t perfect—in fact, she was the first to point out her faults—but I admired her greatly. Her example, through many challenging circumstances over the years, inspires me to persevere in Christ and trust Him.

Her hope was in God. “I’ve been thanking Him all day,” was her response when anything good happened—from a bountiful day of crabbing off the dock to a grandchild scoring well on a test. When heartache, worry, or hardship challenged any of us, Mom seldom pushed advice and faithfully promised, “I’ve been talking to God all day.”  She knew God as the source of all that is good, all provision and protection, and all grace.

I think the most profound way that I see the fruit of Mom’s hope in God is in her gentle and quiet spirit. We see so much when we look back, don’t we? I look way back and see my selfishness, stubbornness, and plenty of other ugly-nesses toward Mom in my teen and young adult years—and how she loved me through them. Then I look back over our years of raising children, ministry, and work—which meant less opportunity to be with Mom and Dad—and she never complained. Always, “Come see us when you can, or we can come to you.”

When I was raising teens, when I missed our kids as they moved out, and when I struggled to be quiet (and say less) or gentle (in tone), I would vent disappointment in myself to Mom and ask, How did you do it? I remember how I was toward you . . . I know how much more you wanted to see us. And she would say,  I would talk to God and ask Him, because it’s all up to Him. As years passed she added, In time you forget the hard stuff and remember the good. 

She depended on God. She loved Him–loves Him–MOST.

I always saw Mom as a selfless giver. Readily she gave us her presence… her time… encouragement… support… help… a listening ear… or a warm hug or smile. Some days I could hear in her voice over the phone or see in her face that she was tired or burdened with something. Yet, always she gave, from a heart brimming with gratitude. “God has given me more than I could ever deserve.” Only in these last few years of grieving the loss of who she was before Alzheimer’s, have I realized how much more she has given me through how she lived.

Whether she was delighted, discouraged, worried, or thankful, her consistent refrain was, “I don’t know what I’d do without Him.” And now she never has to think about that again.

The Wonder of God as Witness

Do you ever feel invisible, as though you or your efforts are unseen?
At the same time, do you ever feel relief that no one sees some of the things you think, watch, or do?

“I am the one who knows, and I am witness, declares the LORD.”  (Jeremiah 29.23b)

People we live with, work with, have fun with, share deep things with see us – in part. Some love, forgive, help, hold us accountable, pray. Others judge, criticize, are indifferent, talk. And the same can be true about us toward others – in part, we see.

God alone is the one who KNOWS. God alone is WITNESS. Nothing is unseen by God.  Nothing confounds Him. Nothing changes His Perfect Love for you and me.

He is witness to our hurts and offenses—and how we hurt and offend others. He is witness to our words toward and about others—and others’ words regarding us. He knows when we’re trying to follow His ways—and when we’re willfully choosing our own. He knows our hopes and disappointments, how hard some things are for us, and how we feel about our self. We cannot wear a mask with God. 

“I am the one who knows, and I am witness, declares the LORD.”  (Jeremiah 29.23b)

These words may comfort us or make us uncomfortable.
Embrace both and draw nearer to Him. Be awed and humbled, healed and changed.

God made us for relationship—with Him. Perfect Love shaped you and me. Think about that for a minute. . . Perfect Love held you and your days were written, “…plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29.11b) This has not changed—God continues to hold you; He isn’t rewriting or editing His plans for you or me. Our sovereign Father IS completing His work in and though us, all to His glory.

Dear God,
We are comforted by your deepest knowing and witness to our heart pain. And, we are humbled by all that you know and witness in our heart and life, yet your love never changes. Thank you for Jesus, your amazing grace, that we can know your love in both comfort and in correction. Help us remember that you are with us all through the day and night. Teach us to depend on you and trust you as you fulfill your plans in us. Amen.