Sunday, December 30, 2018

GROWING SEEDS: Chapter 2019



Chapter 2019

There's a sense of peace as I start Chapter 2019 by returning to the back of this bulletin you are holding.  This real-estate God and I place words on each week has been a blank canvas of white space ready to capture the utterances of my heart for years.  And I thank you, my friend, for patiently waiting as I've worked out the final pages of Chapter 2018...without words.

Simply put, God has pulled up His trousers and walked through the mud with me these past few months.  I have literally felt Him planting that mustard seed of Faith and Trust within me, asking me to simply believe and have faith in Him, no bigger than that seed.  He wasn't asking me, or you, to have faith the size of Texas Stadium, but rather, simply the microscopic size of a mustard seed.  I pray I do, but I sometimes wonder.

I once heard that the mustard seed is one of natures smallest seeds, yet it becomes a strikingly large plant when fully grown.  It's a perfect example of the "potential" of a seed.  A seed does nothing until it's planted, but once it is planted, it can push aside rocks or other obstacles as it continues to grow.  It draws its nutrients from its source...just as we draw our nutrients from our Source (God).

That mustard seed (faith)...well, it's planted deep into the center of each of our hearts.  Wouldn't it be something if someone had open heart surgery and the surgeon actually found a mustard seed planted there?  Crazy I know...but how awesomely cool would that be??

But sometimes the road we're walking is like the soil-covered seed....so dark its impossible to see or feel that seed of Faith growing in our hearts.  This is when we find ourselves most vulnerable to the enemy.  Because we know, the sole job of the enemy is to Lie, Steal and Destroy you and me...and to distract us from remembering we have a seed of Faith planted deep within us.

It's then that we need to start counting...counting each of our Blessings.  Number them as you write them down...because when we count our blessings, it's like poison to Satan and water to the mustard seed...

This then allows our Faith to push through the darkness...as we head towards the Son.


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Grace....Pass-It-On

December 18, 2018

Its exactly a week before Christmas Day.  The fog is heavy outside.  Where there once was a lake, there is now just white.   And I'm sitting here alone in a big house...waiting on something "magical" to happen.  Something...anything...is better than feeling like you're in the white space at the end of the chapter of a book.  One chapter ended....another hasn't yet begun.

But like the naked trees in the winter, I know this white space is temporary....and necessary.  The waiting....the growing that is going on internally and not being seen or felt externally.  Did you know the trees do their best growing in the winter?  They are growing under the dirt...internally....where we can't see the growth....the roots are growing stronger and thicker in preparation for the next chapter...Spring.  There's almost always another Spring if you're a tree.

Everyone is giving me a "pass" this Christmas season, being the first Christmas without my husband. It's been 6 weeks...and I see pity in their eyes; I hear it in their voices...and I actually love them for caring enough to have pity.  But I'm not to be pitied...I'm simply in that white space at the end of a chapter.  I'm the invisible roots of the winter tree.  I can't yet see the words to the next chapter, but I know they're there...and I can't see the roots of the tree growing either, but I know it is.

And from this still place I'm sitting right now, I see the world anxiously running around me as I stand still, crazy with shopping and Frosty and Santa and all the "reasons" we Christians shouldn't celebrate Christmas.

Perception is so much clearer when you're standing still.

Some friends and I attended a local Church Christmas Program a few weeks back.  The whole town showed up to this amazingly well-organized program...complete with light show, flying angels and yes, even a badly-costumed flying Jesus.  But before Jesus and the angels flew through the sanctuary, Frosty danced to the tune of "Frosty the Snowman" on the baptismal ledge.  Shortly thereafter, Santa and his sleigh drove past the pulpit.....

There was an awesome 100-person choir (yes, I counted!) and dancing carolers.  But I couldn't stop looking at Frosty dancing in the baptismal loft...and about how wrong this felt.  For some reason, it reminded me of the money changers in the courtyard of the tabernacle that made Jesus so angry in Matthew 21:12-13.  He had no problem with the people selling their goods....it was selling their good at the Temple that he had a problem with.  Frosty in the sacred baptismal loft and Santa sleighing past the pulpit was what made me squirm with uneasiness.   I remember silently asking God to forgive us for this.

I'm not a prude....goodness, at least I hope not.  I enjoy a fun story of Frosty and Santa and, unfortunately, it's a big part of Christmas.  But truth be told, it has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.  At least if you're a Christian it doesn't.  And certainly not in the Lord's house.

The only things that matter this time of year.....is remembering the birth of our Salvation.  I love remembering Mary giving birth....and jumping into her head and wondering what she was thinking...how she felt...what it must have been like to know Your child is going to change everything.

Loving others.  And "others" are the people who make you crazy....the waitress who treats you rudely.....the annoying screaming child at Wal-Mart....and yes, even his mother who is ignoring him.

Remembering everyone....EVERYONE....is going through something.  Look around...life sucks for most everyone in some way or another.   I'm not the only one...nor are you....going through difficult times.

Grace....pass-it-on.


Monday, December 17, 2018

That Ring.....

If this ring could talk,....


it would tell the story of how it came to be placed on a finger twenty-one years ago.  It would tell you about how two oddly matched people came to know each other over a meal one January evening and fell in love.  The guy, on his knee, asked the girl if he could spend the rest of his days next to her.  The girl said, "Yes".


it would tell the story of how they decided on this particular ring.  This is no ordinary ring.  The girl wanted just a wedding band but the guy wanted a big diamond for her hand. He felt it proved his love for her.  But the girl preferred to save the money for things they both could enjoy.  The guy didn't care about the cost; he wanted to spend as much as he needed to fill her finger to brimming.  They reached a compromise.  They bought a big diamond ring....it wasn't a pure diamond but had pure gold surrounding it.   The cost satisfied the girl....the ring satisfied the guy.


she never took it off.  Proudly wore it everywhere...because to her, it was as pure as the purest diamond because he had given it to her.  The cost was never a factor.

Eighteen years after she put that ring on, she was forced to take it off when the band broke.  Jewelers didn't want to repair it; "it wasn't a pure diamond" they stated..."wasn't worth repairing".  She carried the broken ring....a circle that was never to be broken yet did....with her everywhere...trying to find a jeweler who saw the value in it as she did.

she took it back to the store where the two of them had originally discovered it.  She reminded the same ladies who were there and sold it to them 22 years earlier. how they came to purchase this ring.  And she told them how that ring never left her finger all those years...until the band broke.  How she had tried to get it fixed but everyone stated it wasn't worth fixing.   She told about how two weeks earlier, her beloved had fallen asleep and never woke the next morning and how she wanted nothing more than to have that ring back on her finger.

the clerk, with tears in her eyes, promised to fix the ring back to its original state.  She promised to cherish that ring in the same way the bride cherished it on her wedding day 21 years earlier.  She promised to honor and respect that symbol of love.


and then one day, two weeks later, a package arrived at the Bride's home.  It was a few weeks before Christmas...a month after her beloved had fallen asleep....and as she opened the gift wrapped package, she read the note from the jeweler:


"The story about your ring and the love of your life, Charles, touched our hearts so much.  
We have restored your ring to its oirginal glory and hope you will wear it another 25 years!"

and the bride will, indeed, wear this circle of gold for the rest of her days.  Because the bride realized it wasn't the monetary value of this circle of gold, it was the heart-value that truly mattered.