Why God?

I had a mini-melt down.  It has been 7 plus weeks since I had to start working from home and the “stay-at-home” order was given by our governor.  My faith has kept me sane and for the most part I would say I was doing okay till now.  My son stopped over to pick up something he had in our basement.  He accessed the basement via the outdoor bilco door and stayed within  6  feet of my husband and I. It is the way it has been for the last 7 weeks so why the melt down now?  I am a relational person and an introvert, but it was the first time in my life I have been tested this way.  Where I can’t hug my kids or grandkids, I can’t visit them at their homes.  I can’t cuddle the grandbabies.  I can’t meet a friend for coffee or fellowship with my church family.  Why God?  How long?

God’s Answer:  The next day the online sermon from my Pastor was on Habakkuk 1:1-11.  Habakkuk was the only prophet that opens with questions for God.  How Long?  Why?  All the questions I was thinking but hadn’t versed to God.  How long do we have to be in isolation?  How long before I can hug my grandkids?  How long…the list goes on.  Why is this bothering me?  Why…the list goes on.  It goes on to say it is okay to ask God these questions.  Habakkuk was asking for wisdom.  I can too.  Only God can help and by asking Him I am holding it all open for God.  Once again I was reminded:
1. God is going to do something amazing.
2. God is doing something beyond our comprehension.  He will use the wickedness of
man to bring out salvation.
3.  God is listening.  He will resolve all injustices.  He can use human sin to accomplish His purposes.

My response:  It was a beautiful day that Sunday.  Spring-like for the first time.  I put on a t-shirt and shorts and went outside to weed my garden.  I am not much of a gardener but I do appreciate flowers.  My yard is too shady for most flowers but I do have some shade lovers and wildflowers that seem to grow and spread without me doing much.  I used to pull the wildflowers out but this day I really noticed their beauty and let them stay.  As I began weeding, digging in the warm dirt I felt the warmth of the sun, saw the blue sky, heard the birds chirping.  Then I noticed a bumblebee flitting from flower to flower and I sat in awe watching.  Suddenly a snake slithered by me into the ground cover.  The simple things of life that prior to this shut down I may not have noticed or appreciated.  I was now looking at them through the eyes of a child.  I am a child of God.  He heard my “how longs and whys” and was comforting me with His creation to let me know He heard me.

The next week I saw some of what I deemed unfair in my family and heard  a lot of negative news in the world and once again my eyes were back on myself.  Why God?  It is Mother’s Day and how I wish to be with my family.

God’s Response:  The online sermon was from Habakkuk 1:12-17, 2:1-5.  Habakkuk was asking God why He wasn’t doing anything about the wicked.  Habakkuk did acknowledge the following about God even though what was happening didn’t make sense to him:
1.  God is faithful.
2.  God is just in His discipline.
3.  God is Holy.

God acknowledges it is a wise man who takes his questions to God about God. His answer to Habukkuk:
1.  God sees the wicked.
2.  The wicked are never at rest.
3.  The wicked are never truly satisfied.

God’s answer will come in time.  He will stop the wicked in time.  We must live by faith, abiding in His righteousness.

My response:  Once again I was brought up short to realize God was in control and to stop feeling sorry for myself.  What I am finding so hard to deal with during this shut down is all part of God’s bigger plan.  He may be using this crisis to accomplish what plan He had even before this started.  I must continue to abide in Him.  To wait with anticipation  of what is to come.  So, my family did not disappoint.  My youngest son FaceTimed me so I could see my newest granddaughter.  My oldest granddaughter did a porch drop off of a beautiful plant and chocolate with a card from her family and then they all FaceTimed me.  My oldest son and his wife both texted me and my  third son called me on the phone.  Another beautiful Sunday.  My husband and I went for a walk, stopping to enjoy a water fall and flowers.  Once again God’s creation soothed my soul.

Why?  Live by faith…

 

 

Chapters of life…Invisible to visible

Note:  I wrote this last year and never published it.

🔹Invisible Mother🔹

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way
one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be
taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’

Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping
the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see
me at all. I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of
hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??

Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock
to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is
the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’

Some days I’m a crystal ball; ‘Where’s my other sock?, Where’s my phone?,
What’s for dinner?’

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes
that studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappeared
into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s
going, she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a
friend from England . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she
was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there,
looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to
compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she
turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you
this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn’t exactly
sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘With admiration
for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’

In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover
what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could
pattern my work:

1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record
of their names.

2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never
see finished.

3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the
eyes of God saw everything.

A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the
cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird
on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man,
‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that
will be covered by the roof. No one will ever see it’

And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost
as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you. I see the sacrifices you
make every day, even when no one around you does.

No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve
baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to
notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see
right now what it will become.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of
the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work
on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went
so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime
because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend he’s
bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the
morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3
hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a
monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there
is anything more to say to his friend, he’d say, ‘You’re gonna love it
there…’

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re
doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel,
not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the
world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.

❤️
Original author: Nicole Johnson

My response:  The above post, which I  read on Facebook today, caused me to feel God remove another scale from my eyes to see me the way He sees me.  Wow!  All of my life I have felt invisible.   I never felt I fit in wherever I went.  I always felt alone in crowds and even with friends and family I felt like I was on the outside looking in.  I could identify with what the above writer wrote about raising kids. Even at work …..

A few months back in church a friend mentioned he was an introvert and a discussion ensued among a group of us.  I then researched  and realized I was an introvert and as I read the description it described me exactly.  Oh my!  There is nothing wrong with me!  I don’t need to fit into the extroverted world.  I am a part of it and my part is just as important.  I am currently reading the book, Quiet by Susan Kane.  It makes perfect sense why I felt the way I did and now know that I have accepted me as me!  How novel!!  Praising God for the way He made me.

He opened another door to me at a our church’s annual Ladies retreat.  We had a workshop on temperament.  After a little test that seemed ridiculous to me I found out I was a Phlegmatic/Melancholic and reading the description it was me exactly.  Another scale fell off my eyes.  So now in His perfect timing when it was just the right time for me to know this I know this!  It gives me now the ability to do what I am doing, just the way I have been, as God directs because He  designed me and He sees.  I am not invisible to Him.  I am not invisible to those around me. I am just a different temperament and character.  We all work well together as we use our gifts.

We don’t always see the fruit of our labor until later when raising children and in some areas like some of the builders of the great cathedrals we will never know the fruit of our labor.  But God does!

Application:  I am moving forward with eyes wide open, now understanding myself in a better way, realizing I have just as much an important role in my life as anybody.  I feel I am still growing up and the older I get the more God reveals to me the richness of my life in Him.

I would love to hear from anyone that this post may have helped better understand themselves.

Lonely

“How lonely sits the city that was once full of people!” is how Jeremiah begins his lament over Jerusalem (Lamentations 1).   This was my lament as I drove through my town with empty streets and sidewalks to my office to pick up some things for my home office.

The first thing that caught my eye on my desk in the empty  building was that my calendar was on March 13.  The last “normal” day.  I sat down staring at the calendar as a flood of loneliness washed over me.  I missed the buzz of activity in the office, of pushing my chair back to chat with my co-worker.  Communication with co-workers is now via Zoom meetings.

Connection with my kids and grandchildren is now through FaceTime.  Friends are connecting through texting. All this virtual communication was convenient for quick responses in our old normal but is not a substitute for face to face interactions. We, as human beings, were designed to fellowship in person with others.  So me feeling lonely is a legitimate reaction to our Shelter in Place/Stay at Home orders during this Covid-19 pandemic.

I then felt your nudge, God.  I have you Lord!  You are the REAL normal.  You are the same today as you were yesterday and will be tomorrow.  (Hebrews 13:8)  You will never leave me nor forsake me. (Joshua 1:5) YOU are the constant in my life that I can ALWAYS count on.  So no matter what happens on this earth going forward I know your mercies indeed never cease, for your compassions never fail.  They are new every morning: Great is Your faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Musings on June 29th

Prologue:  I obviously am not posting this on June 29.  I wrote this on a scrap of paper while eating breakfast on June 29.  I then shoved in my purse so I would see it that evening and type it in my blog.  Well..I suppose you can guess what happened.  It got buried in my purse.  I cleaned out my purse tonight and Voila!

The forecast is for hot and humid weather today so before work I decided to prepare dinner.  Better to cook before the heat of the day sets in.  As I prepared our quick hot weather go to dinner, tuna macaroni salad, I realized it is June 29.  Well…June 29, 2012 sticks vividly in my mind.  It was another hot humid day and I had prepared the same dinner but by evening I wasn’t feeling well and wasn’t able to eat much.  The next morning I was in the hospital having an emergency appendectomy.

Last year, June 29, 2017, I had cataract surgery.

So back to today…Another significant event on June 29.  My husband retired from his job today.  Bittersweet  he describes it.  Sad… will miss co-workers and office camaraderie.  Sweet…no more commute and can now do all the things he didn’t have time for while working.  The start of a new chapter in our life journey……….

Forever winter

lamp post narnia real

“It is winter in Narnia, and has been for ever so long…”  (Mr. Tumnus, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis)

The year 2017 felt like it was winter for ever so long.  The “winter” began with my brother’s death in February.  It continued with my mother-in-law’s death in June, my dog’s death in July, my mother’s death in September and my cousin’s death in October.  It continued into 2018 with my aunt’s death in April.  I was numb most of this time as I trusted God to lead from memorial service to memorial service and help us find a new normal in our lives.  I was just going through the motions of life.  I felt I was in a tunnel that had a very distant light at the end which I now know was God beckoning me forward, but at the time I felt I would never reach that light.

The real winter seemed like it would never end this year.  The first day of spring it snowed and continued off and on for what seemed like weeks.  Would the real spring ever spring?  I signed up for my first 5k of this year wondering how well I would do since I was not only grieving but was still rehabbing from an earlier back issue.  That day, April 21, dawned sunny with a bright blue sky and cool temperatures.  Perfect running weather.  I felt the stirring of excitement.  As I began to run I felt stress begin to ease.  I got into the familiar rhythm and was feeling good.  As I approached the finish line I began to sprint and as I crossed that line I saw the brilliance of the sun and the cheering people and realized that I had come out of the tunnel!  I felt alive!

Walking toward the food line I clearly saw all the people.  This was the first race this community organization had sponsored bringing  the community together for a great cause.  I was part of this community, I belonged , I had part in this.  The best part for me personally was this community helped me out of the tunnel of the forever winter I was in.  I was now ready to tackle this grief head on and begin my new normal.  Praise God!

Oh, and a bonus to boot…I came in 2nd in my age group.  Woo Hoo!

2017

Oh, what a year!  It started well.  I started a new job on January 23 after a tumultuous  2016 with jobs.  In September of 2015 I left a job of 10 years, because of lets just say not great working conditions, only to jump from the fire into the frying pan with a job of even worse conditions.  I prayed each day for the strength to work there and be a light in that office.  The Lord graciously gave me that strength and the words to speak after 5 months when it became evident I needed to leave there.  He then opened the door to a wonderful position with an elected official that made me happy to go to work  every day.  Unfortunately at the end of 2016 that job ended because my boss lost the election.  But because of connections made through that position I was offered the position I have now which is a perfect fit and I do enjoy going to work every day.

February began a downward spiral…My brother passed into the presence of the Lord from cancer.  That hit me hard.  He had tolerated his treatments well and it really looked as though he would beat this cancer but in the end this aggressive cancer was no match.  God needed him more than we did here.

April began a physical challenge for me.  I had some nagging pain in my lower back but found I could still run. I was training for a half marathon and was a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to accomplish that.  But in May on the day of the race I went feeling positive figuring worst case scenario I would end of walking.  But I had the best half I have ever run with a PR. (personal record for you non-runners).  In early June I ran a 5K again with a PR for that race and first in my age group.  Then 2 weeks later I was unable to run.  My lower back hurt and I had nerve pain running down my left leg.  I had no choice but to stop running.  I found a great back doctor but had to wait a month to see him.  It was very difficult.  Running is a stress release for me.  I gave it all to God but still struggled.

June arrived with the news that my mother-in-law passed away.  Once again we were at a memorial service.  Yes it was wonderful connecting with family near and far and sharing wonderful memories of her life, but so sad.

July arrived and I got to see the back doctor.  A series of steroid injections along with ice packs helped me feel much better.  But then our 13 year old black Labrador Retriever died.  He was my comfort when my brother passed and such a loyal companion to my husband and I.  Our hearts ached with missing him and I couldn’t run.

August I continued with treatments for my back and found I could do some power walking for exercise.  I was feeling better but still missed running

September my mother passed into the presence of the Lord.  That hit me hard.  No parents left.  At her memorial service as we gathered with family and took pictures it was very noticeable that some were missing.  The reality was hard to accept.  It was then that I finally really gave it up to God and gave myself permission to fully grieve.  I took time off from work to care for myself.

Then once again in October another death.  My cousin passed away from ALS.  A horrible disease that has robbed us of 4 other relatives previously.  Her testimony of faith during her illness was inspiring.  I know without a doubt that she is with the Lord but once again we are missing a family member here on earth.  I said to my husband, “When is this going to stop?”  4 family members  plus our dog was too much.  He actually answered that question, ” We are next”.    I didn’t need to hear that.  It was supposed to be a rhetorical question I told him.

So…we have made it to the end of 2017.  Here I sit on December 31 reflecting on this year.  This is my take away…God is good.  This is life, the hard to take part of life, but life it is.  The good and the bad.  I am blessed to be His child and now I have more boldness to share that.  He has blessed me with a loving family, a loving church family, abundant provision.  I trust Him wholly.

Security from Yesterday…At the end of the year we turn with eagerness to all that God has for the future, and yet anxiety is apt to arise from remembering the yesterdays.  Our present enjoyment of God’s grace is apt to be checked by the memory of yesterday’s sins and blunders.  But God is the God of our yesterdays, and He allows the memory of them in order to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual culture for the future.  God reminds us of the past lest we get into a shallow security in the present.”
Security for Tomorrow…”This is a gracious revelation, that God will garrison where we have failed to.  He will watch lest things trip us up again into like failure, as they assuredly would do if He were not our rear guard.  God’s hand reached back to the past and makes a clearing-house for conscience.”
Security for Today…”As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, unremembering delight, nor with the flight of impulsive thoughtlessness, but with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us.  Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future.  Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.  Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.”

(Oswald Chambers referencing Isaiah 52:12)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

 

 

What is Your Nineveh?

The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.”  But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.  So he went down to Joppa, found a ship which was going to Tarshish, paid the fare, and went down into it to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. (Jonah 1:1-3)

Last month I saw Jonah at the Sight and Sound Theater.  At the end of the show the audience was asked, “What is your Nineveh?”  That question has been rattling around in my brain since.  So what am I fleeing from?  What am I not trusting God with?   There are probably multiple things if I would allow myself to think about it in depth.  That is what Jonah probably did.  He didn’t think…he reacted. He couldn’t possibly go to Nineveh.  A wicked people that certainly didn’t deserve God’s grace.    His choice caused him much grief, being thrown overboard and swallowed by a big fish.  Spending 3 days in the belly of the fish woke him up to the fact that God was perhaps rescuing him.  He then cried out to God, repented and followed through with the mission to Nineveh.

Then Jonah began to go through the city one day’s walk; and he cried out and said, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”  Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. (Jonah 3:4-5)

When God saw the Ninevites had turned from their wicked way He didn’t destroy them.  This displeased Jonah.  Even though he had experienced God’s grace he didn’t extend that grace to Nineveh.  He allowed his fear and anger of who they were to keep him from the extending that grace.

How many times have I missed out on God’s grace because I ran the other way?  Too many times I have allowed fear to rule my thinking or perhaps I should just call it what it is…prejudice.  How many times have I not acted because I felt the person needing God’s grace didn’t deserve it.  After all they are living with the consequences of their bad choices.

God, in His great mercy, has put me in a job where I deal with people in need every day.  By nature I am a very compassionate person and have always extended that  to those that deserved it. Ah! my point!  Do any of us deserve it?  God gives it freely.  He is using my compassionate nature on a daily basis to interact with those I traditionally would say deserve AND to those that I traditionally would say don’t.  He is changing my heart.  I have begun praying for the latter after I get off the phone with them.

What is your Nineveh?

Oh Lord help me to stay focused on you and your word that I might not miss those Nineveh opportunities and be able to extend the grace you give to me to others.  Amen.

“Thank you Lin…I love you”

18 months ago I posted that my brother had been diagnosed with small cell lung cancer.  He had a good quality of life throughout his treatments but he lost the battle on February 28, 2017.  Actually in his words he won.  He said right from the beginning that he was in a win-win situation.  He would either be healed here on earth or be healed in heaven with Jesus.  That statement sounded really good when he said it but when the finality of it happened it didn’t feel good.  I know it was good.  He is in heaven with Jesus, pain free…cancer free.  But there is a hole in our family now.  There were four of us siblings, now there are 3.  The pain in my heart was intense.  So hard to wrap my mind around the fact that I will not see him, hear him, email him, text him ever again here on earth.

Finding a new normal is what we as a family have been struggling with these last couple of months.  It is getting easier day by day.  He planned his own “Celebration of Life”.   I was in awe of the amount of people there whose lives he touched.  As testimonies were given about his life there was a common thread about how he gave himself in so many ways.  He was always there for the underdog.  He was a bright spot in the cancer center to the staff and other patients.  He made everyone laugh.  His way of dealing with insecurity  was to crack a joke.  He had asked me to speak about knowing him.  God gave me the strength to do that.  That was one step of healing from his loss, writing this post is another step.  My next step is to change his phone number in my phone to his wife’s name as she is using his phone now.  I will see her name appear on the caller id instead of his.  I need to focus on moving on and cherishing the memories.

He went down hill real fast.  I live in another state and couldn’t get to see him before he passed but I did get to talk to him on the phone.  He talked very raspy at this point so I asked if I could sing to him.  He said yes so I sang Amazing Grace and It is Well with my Soul.  I then prayed and told him I loved him.  He rasped out his final words to me, “Thank you Lin, I love you”.  I will cherish those words in my heart until we meet again.

“Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”
Chris Tomlin

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

[2x]
My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
Will be forever mine.
You are forever mine.

Life…(more on the current chapter)

When I was a child even a young adult life was about me, my friends, my family and so many years ahead to spend time together.  Now that I am older and have experienced life I now know how short and fragile life is.  We all have a timeline that God has given us.  He knows it we do not.  He has numbered not only the hairs on our head but the days we have to live on this earth.  When I look at life that way, His way,  it makes me think.  What can I do to make a difference in the lives of my loved ones and those that are lost.  The longer we live we experience the part of life no one likes to talk about, death.  When you are  young that usually isn’t part of your vocabulary other than a precious pet that dies.  I have experienced family members and friends dying in what I consider too young.  But they have reached the part of their timeline that ends their earthly existence.  It is hard to comprehend but God tells us  to trust Him.

My mother and my mother-in-law, both the same age, are reaching the end of their time.  Both are ill and unable to care for themselves.  I have a younger brother with lung cancer and a younger cousin with ALS.  A friend who doesn’t know the Lord asked me today how I deal with all of this.  My unemployment and ill family members.  My answer:  It is all part of God’s plan and all in His hands.  This is life.  Yes, it is sad.

The flip side of all this is the wonderful life events that are happening.  My oldest son just got engaged to a lovely gal I am so excited to have as a daughter-in-law.  A couple of young ladies from my church are expecting first babies.  All my sons are working in the careers they went to school for.  I have two young granddaughters living life like I did at that age.  Innocent and full of fun and learning.  This is life.  It is happy.

Happy, sad and a lot of other emotions thrown in is part of life.  We spend time with people, pour our lives into theirs, laugh with them, cry with them, get angry at them, get jealous of them, forgive them, ask them to forgive us, reminisce with them.  In other words ‘do life with them’.  Then their life is cut short and a piece of us is missing.  It hurts, we cry, we get angry with God but at the end of ‘the day’ we know that this is life and we need to find a new normal without that person.

Some of you may have experienced very difficult times in your life and are struggling.  I have been there and totally understand.  So please don’t take what I am saying as a platitude.  I am just sharing where I am right now. I have lived long enough to experience a lot of life pleasant and unpleasant and because of my relationship with Jesus Christ I have learned to leave these things at His feet and move on asking Him to guide me.  It isn’t easy but it is necessary to keep me moving and able to be a light for others.  I want to be able to hear when my time comes, Well done good and faithful servant.