Sunday, November 24, 2019

GROWING SEEDS: "We Are Given What We Need"

There's a story about a 15 year old girl whose Mom had died.  Her Dad was a wonderful man....did everything with his daughter....ran marathons together, worked on homework and fixed meals together.  Until one day, they were jogging together and she noticed she was losing her sight.  Turned out, she had cancer in her eyes and eventually, lost her sight.

That was the day her Dad left her.

She could no longer feel his presence around her, hear his voice or know if he was even near.  She found herself forced to do everything on her own.  Simple things, like putting toothpaste on her toothbrush or mascara on her eyes.  Daily, she would yell out to the quiet, "Why have you deserted me, Dad?  "Why did you leave me?

In desperation, she put her running shoes on and ran a trail behind her house she knew by memory.  But she took a wrong turn and almost ran off a cliff.  And that was when her Dad ran to her side and stopped her before she fell.  With sadness in her voice, she asked him, "Why did you leave me?”  He held her face in his hands and said, "I never left you, Sweetheart.  I was here all the time."

The story then takes us back....back to him quietly moving obstacles out of her way without her knowing it...keeping her safe when she couldn't see him doing it.

"My daughter, you thought I left you....and as much as it pains me, you were right.  I stepped aside so you could be more courageous than you ever imagined.  I stepped aside so you could discover how beautiful you are inside and out and to challenge yourself in ways you never considered.  I stepped aside so you could discover how strong you really are."

"But I was always right here", her Father answered.  "No one believes in you more than I do.  You know that.  Think about how far you've come.  I gave you what you needed....not what you wanted."

This is the story of us, sweet friends.  I don’t mean just lake water invading a house or cancer spreading through your body, death of a loved one or broken hips or broken friendships. This is about our daily lives and specifically, my life these past few years.  If you haven't stood at the edge of a cliff at some point, I guarantee you will.  Sometimes, God has to step back so we can get stronger, so we can learn to trust....and realize how courageous and strong we can be whengiven what we need...not what we want.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

GROWING SEEDS: "Forgive the Speaker, for Her Sins Are Many"

Max Lucado almost always starts his talks with a prayer that includes this, "Father, forgive the speaker, for his sins are many" as he prays for himself.  I love this.  Oh, if only we all started our conversations with God this way!  To humble ourselves as we place our sins, one by one, at His feet, never to be mentioned again.

"Then she knelt behind Him at His feet, weeping. 
Her tears fell on His feet, and she wiped them off with her hair......
Then Jesus said to the woman, 'Your sins are forgiven."
Luke 7:38 & 48

I've often wondered what God does with the tears I cry.  Psalms 56:8 says, "You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.  You have recorded each tear and sorrow in Your book."  I think about the sinful woman in Luke 7 who boldly washed Jesus' feet with her tears and how much she must have cried to create enough tears to clean His feet.  Her remorse was huge.  

Many years ago, I repeated something to someone I knew I shouldn't have.  It fell out of my mouth faster than a Liz-speeding-ticket.  Although it was a truthful statement and I can sit here and attempt to justify and explain my reason for doing it, in the end, it served no purpose to repeat and, worse, it caused hurt to someone I cared deeply for.  I don't think I have ever felt more disappointed in myself  than I did at that very moment.  I cried buckets of tears daily over what I had I had indirectly hurt someone I loved...and I begged God to forgive me.  He did....but I struggled to forgive myself.  Why?  Because I didn't feel I "deserved" to be forgiven.

In time, the deep scar of this sin began to scab and I learned I cannot hold myself to a different standard than Jesus Christ holds me to.  If He forgave me, then who am I to not also forgive myself? 

Are you hanging on to an unforgiveness......of yourself

It's time to remove this burden from your back and hand it over to God.  He plans on drop-kicking it off the mountain you've been trying to climb, never to be seen or remembered again.  Place your tears at Jesus' are forgiven!

"Forgiveness is UNLOCKING the door to set someone FREE
and realizing that YOU were the PRISONER."
Max Lucado

Sunday, November 10, 2019

GROWING SEEDS: "The Mystery Of Grace"


A few years ago, my brother, sister and I made a trip to our grandparent's old home place in a tiny town in the center of Alabama.  It had been years since any of us had been back to this place we used to visit every summer and, in all honesty, it was never a place I loved going.  The crickets were huge, there was no running water, baths were taken in the river and an outhouse was not a place you wanted to visit in the middle of the night.

My grandparents owned 200 acres of pine trees.....oh ya....and a creek that ran right through the middle.  For as long as I can remember, my grandfather in his striped overalls and his train engineer cap, along with my grandmother in her long dress with an apron....yes...always with an apron....would drive the old pickup truck down to Blue Creek and pan for gold with their grandchildren hanging out the bed of the truck.  For my siblings and cousins, this was like going to Disneyland.  For Liz, it was pure torture.

But along the orange-clay dirt road to the creek, we would always pass an old wood-frame Methodist church with a cemetery next to it.  My grandparents would eventually be buried in that very cemetery and the memory of a bee flying up my niece's skirt during my grandmother's graveside service will always be with me, but the thing about that old Methodist church I will remember the most is driving by it on Sundays and hearing the black people singing from the top of their lungs.  Not a shy or embarrassed bone in their bodies......they loved the Lord and they wanted everyone to know it.

And as my siblings and I drove up that old orange-clay dirt road once again a few years ago, I SWEAR..I could still hear them singing.  The church has long been abandoned, the windows broken out, the grass was taller than the tombstones and a mild wind could blow the walls down.  But as I walked into this room full of memories, I found this old Methodist hymnal laying open on the floor, partially eaten by rats and laying among piles of old bulletins from 1979....opened to Page 285, "The Mystery of Grace".

And I smile as I think about that person who, so many years ago, set that hymnal down on the wood plank floor, just for me to find today.

Aww....the Mystery of Grace.
" But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 
 2 Corinthians 12:9

Sunday, November 3, 2019

GROWING SEEDS: "Depart and be with Christ, for that is far better"

For years, I prayed the same prayer.  A pleading-kind-of-prayer.
I prayed that when the last day of my husbands life on this earth arrived, it would come easy.  He had endured much living a life with Multiple Sclerosis and I asked God to please give him a painless rescue on that day....whenever that day would be. I prayed this same prayer for years

And I had no idea on this very day a year ago....that He would answer that prayer in less than 48 hours.  He placed a fishing rod in Chuck's hand on Sunday & woke him to Eternity on Monday. 

So what will it be like at that moment when we take our last breath here?  If we trust and believe in Christ, we have nothing to fear; we are PROMISED that moment will be beyond anything we can describe or imagine.  While I was talking to God in my favorite chair in the living room that Monday morning, Chuck's angels were waking him and preparing him to head Home...unbeknownst to me.  I like to “imagine” the same angels God had placed next to him at his birth, were the same angels who whispered in his ear that morning and said, “Wake up,’s’s the day you’ve waited your whole life for.”

Our years here on earth are but a millisecond in time compared to Eternity.  If we don’t get it right here, we won’t get it right there.  Read that line’s the most important line you’ll read today.

I have cried buckets of tears over this past year....just like everyone today who is celebrating & remembering the life of their loved one.  But many of those tears that have leaked out of my eyes this year have been tears of Joy that my prayers were answered for this man I deeply loved and was fortunate enough to have lived life with.  Yes, I miss the practical jokes...I miss listening for the two words, “I’m OKAY” as I hear the sound of his wheelchair crash into a door frame on the other side of the house....and I miss holding and tracing the lines in his hand with my fingertips during church.  But I know that Jesus called Chuck home because He had a better life to give him.  And I know someday, Jesus's prayer for us to be with Him will overrule our prayer for a prolonged life on earth.

May God increase our "desire' to...."depart and be with Christ, for that is far better."  Philippians 1:23