Begin

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5minutefriday{{Today is Friday!!!  It is the day I link with Lisa Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday for the last time. Thank you Lisa Jo for introducing me to such a wonderful community of women. Thank you for showing me how to be brave and share my words without fear. You will be missed for sure. Grateful you handed it over to Kate Motaung, who will continue to grow this community with excellence!

So here is how it works…. One word prompt. Five minutes. No editing. Lots of women. We all write on the same word.})

Today the word prompt is …. Begin.

How to begin is always a dilemma to me. The desire to begin correctly, so as not to have to do something over and over, nags at me like the crows I hear outside my window.

But the nagging is not always truth.

To begin means a newness, something to be experienced and enjoyed, perhaps exciting.

A new beginning in front of me is similar to a blank sheet of paper waiting for creativity to burst onto it.

This morning in the stillness, quiet (except for those crows!), and darkness a new beginning is awaiting me. I get to begin a new day.

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A fresh slate.

My God will be right there with me through every second of my day much the way He was with me yesterday.

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
(Lamentations 3:22-23, NLT)

His mercies toward me begin afresh each morning. An endless supply. He pours His mercy out on my life lavishly, telling me to begin once more. There will be no exhausting His mercies toward me, toward you. Not ever.

Each morning they begin. Again.

And again.

And again.

 

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Four Lessons for Now

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In writing a letter recently, I used the words “fellow sojourners” as this is truly what we all are in this life.

The interesting thing about sojourners is this … they stay for a time in a place, they live in that place temporarily. And I know we are sojourners in the sense that earth is not our home and we’re headed to the heavenly city. I get that. But ….

What if we were to apply it to circumstances in our lives as well?

“And he is not served by human hands as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.
And he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” (Acts 17:25, 26, NIV)

In thinking about our sojourner status and the above verses, this came to mind:

  1. Everything fits into His majestic plan. Now I am not sure if I have doubted the everything part or that His plan for me was majestic, only that I have doubted. (**FYI – The HLB (Holy Lightening Bolt) has not struck me yet so I am truly finding He handles my doubts and questions quite well!) But “everything” means just that —> everything. Everything which occurs – the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly – all of it fits into His plan.
  2. We long to see the beautiful pattern in our lives. I imagine our lives to look like a beautiful brocade pattern made with rich and luxurious threads. He’s working and looking at the underside, where all the threads are knotted and no pattern or beauty seems evident. There will come a day where He will flip the material over and we will stand, jaw to the floor or perhaps, knees to the ground, amazed at what He was done.
  3. NOW is what we have. It’s all we got folks. And we will not get NOW back as once it passes it becomes WHEN. So let’s choose to live in the now. In the midst of NOW, let’s make the most we can of it. In making the most of NOW, I think the enemy will be mad he even tried to mess with us. The very thought of sending him packing brings me joy NOW!
  4. Let’s not worry about the future as we will find Him sufficient for TODAY. He gives us “life and breath and everything else”. He alone can satisfy every need. He determines “the exact places they should live”. He positions us in the very places we are to live, and work I would add. And in that place, He provides all we need, satisfies and fulfills us.

And why does He do this for us?

“God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” (verse 27)

So my fellow sojourners, may we seek, reach and remember,

He is near to each one of us.

NOW.

 This post was shared with …. Thought Provoking Thurs., Tell His Story, Quitting Thurs., Thurs. Favorite Things, Thrive at Home Thurs., Hearts for Home.

 

May We Grow

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Children grow so quickly – in size, intelligence, and abilities. I was reminded and deeply moved as I read a post Monday in which the blogger shared how her daughter continues to progress.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the progression of growth since. And then I read about the growth of another child …..

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve, he also went with them. Once the festival was over, everyone headed home. When His parents couldn’t find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for Jesus. They found Him in the Temple, sitting with the religious leaders, listening to them and asking questions. At the end of the story, we read this:

“Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and all the people.” (Luke 2:52, NLT)

Jesus grew.

He was able to sit and learn from those around Him. He remained One who could listen and exchange thoughts with others. Jesus, the One Who is all knowing, still came to this earth as a child who desired to learn. He came and He grew throughout His childhood. He came as One willing to be taught and willing to learn.

We need to remain learners all our lives. We benefit from being with others and hearing their experiences. We glean from their knowledge recognizing we all cannot know everything.

But it isn’t enough for us to just gather up knowledge and store it in our minds. Somehow it has to get down into our hearts and translate into more than information.

Our minds and our hearts must become engaged with one another. Our minds must spring to life with what our heart knows to be Truth. We must come to the place where we apply, to our daily living, that which we have learned.

Each day, as our situations play out, we must come before Him and ask, “What do you want me to learn about You, and from You today?”

As we ask this question of Him, somehow I think we come to learn with Him in every circumstance, in every joy, in every pain, in every sorrow, and in every laughter.

When we ask Him that question, every day becomes the classroom in which we learn more about Him, “growing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and all the people”.

Jesus grew.

And…

May we grow.

 

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The Shore

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I have read this story in Acts 27 so many times, loving how Paul takes charge and encourages the sailors and passengers in the midst of a storm.

He speaks words which infuse with courage and calms their anxiety. He breaks bread and feeds them for their own good. He prays, thanking God for Who He is. I have so appreciated that although the ship was smashed by the force of the waves and completely broke apart, not one life was lost. All 276 were spared.

But there are times, God has more to say and He diverts our eyes to take in a few words differently ….

“Once we were safe on shore, we learned that we were on the island of Malta.” (Acts 28: 1, NLT)

Those very words seemed to leap off the page. Or perhaps God was using His megaphone. Not sure. But I know His Word sank deep into my soul as it brought new revelation to me – – -

Sometimes we have no idea where we’re going until we land safe at shore.

When life throws its uncertainties at us, we want to know the outcome. At times, we even desire to control the outcome. As the waves pound and the winds howl, we want to know the direction we are headed.

But sometimes, we need to trust Him and go for the ride, knowing He will take us safely into shore.

And here’s the thing about the shore ….

“The people of the island were very kind to us. It was cold and rainy, so they built a fire on the shore to welcome us.” (Acts 28: 2, NLT)

The place we land will be a place which welcomes us. There will be a fire waiting to warm us, bringing the comfort of safety and community.

Sometimes we have no idea where we’re going until we land safe at shore.

The very place where the storm and safety meet.

The shore.

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Our Written Words

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The written word.

I don’t seem to see it as often as in years passed. Even with birthdays, it seems so many send electronic cards. Now don’t get me wrong, I love those too. It is always a surprise to see them in my inbox.

But the written word falls like a balm to the soul and a feast to the eyes.

There is something so special about seeing handwriting. Not penmanship but handwriting. It is so personal to each of us – neat or sloppy, big or small, slanted or straight, blue ink or black. And then to realize…there is a hand which touched our paper, a person who cared enough to share. Yes, that is why I will hold onto and cherish each card I receive for a long time.

Have we forgotten how endearing and precious the written word can be? The power and impact they can have on a thirsty soul?

God certainly knew as He gave Moses the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, written by the finger of God. (Exodus 31:18, NLT) Can we even imagine the sight of the very penmanship of God?

Paul, while imprisoned in Rome, also knew the comfort of the written word. In writing to Timothy, he instructs him, “When you come, be sure to bring the coat that I left with Carpas at Troas. Also bring my books, and especially my papers.(2 Timothy 4:13, NLT) Paul received comfort from personal notes and letters he had received. He wanted the familiar scrolls, probably parchment paper, in his hands. The familiar would bring him joy.

And the Lord is still writing each day ….

“Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.”
(2 Corinthians 3:3, NLT)

Perhaps this is the very reason my heart skips a beat when I see a handwritten envelope, with my name on it, in the mail. Amidst the junk mail and advertisements and mail for others and bills, there is one envelope which comes from the heart. The one piece of mail which will come from the heart and deposit into my heart a bit of encouragement, hope and love.

A little piece of that which He has written on the heart of another delivered right to my heart in its moment of need.

The written word.

We all need some now and then.

In our mailbox.

From one heart to another.

 

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When Doubts Rush In

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MD_ConvergentImage_AuthorSite_2I was raised in the church – Sunday School (complete with pins to show I passed each year), VBS (Vacation Bible School), youth group, and church several times a week. My parents did everything right in growing me to know Who I believed in.

But then I hit middle school.

Those years when most begin to question and question in a big way. Middle school for me was during the time of peace movements, the hippies, the Beatles, the Monkees, and Alice Cooper (topic of my very first oral report).

It was also the time of 9th grade algebra with Mrs. Kramer (whom I loved!) and drugs being passed around sneakily from desk to desk. Some kids came in high and bragged about it. Others tried to deny it. But we all knew.

The questions began to form inside of me.

And then came my first introduction to the theory of evolution, presented brilliantly and my questions deepened.

So did the feeling of being a spiritual misfit.

The kids in church never talked about their doubts or struggles. We showed up every week as though everything was fine and our belief system firmly intact. I doubt anyone would have suspected I even had any doubts at all.

Gratefully, I was able to openly and comfortably discuss my doubts with my parents. It was weeks of discussion, or maybe it was debate, as I shared what I was learning in school.

As the struggle grew strong and the battle for my faith heated up, one Sunday upon leaving church I asked him if I could have a few minutes to talk to him.

Our pastor was a small man with a relatively quiet demeanor. His preaching often seemed educated and way too deep for me to understand at times. But I had come to realize one thing, he knew God’s Word. While he seemed surprised, he invited me into his office with my parents and I began to share my questions.

He listened intently, validating my questions and then asked me if we could put my questions on hold for a bit. He asked me to come back to his office after the church service Friday and I agreed. He also asked my parents if he could talk to me alone.

All week I wondered about what he would have to say that he did not want to say in the presence of my parents. Friday just couldn’t seem to come soon enough.

Friday came and I sat in his office, he on one side of his desk and me on the other, it was then he shared ….

“I have struggled with doubts as well.”

He said it quietly, matter of factly, without shame for which I will forever be grateful as I felt relief. After all, he had questioned and had lived to talk about it. There was yet hope for me.

He shared openly, asking me questions. I asked him questions and he gave answers. At the close of our conversation, he handed me a few books on the very topic of evolution. He suggested I read them, taking as long as I needed with them and to be sure to come back and let him know what I thought.

He never ridiculed me nor made me feel ashamed for questioning.

The books were marked and written in. I began to understand this man, our pastor, to be one who read and wrestled his questions out with God. But more so, I discovered a God Who was bigger than my questions and well able to handle my doubts.

And somewhere between my second and third book, I discovered I did indeed believe that God, my God, was the Creator of all things …

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created
everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see -
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and
authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.

(Colossians 1: 15-17, NLT)

I cannot say this was my only misfit experience. But it surely paved the way for this truth to be planted in my soul – my God wanted me to come to Him with my questions. He desires a good wrestling with me as He always would win, for His truth does prevail over any question I may raise.

Yes, you might be a spiritual misfit if you doubt and question God.

And it is in the wrestling match, our God transforms you into spiritually fit.

 

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Focus Determines Everything

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A few years ago, I read Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. Every once in a while, I pull the book off my shelf and read a few pages. Today was one of those times …..

The Lord is my peace. I shall not live in anxiety. He puts me under His wing of comfort and calms my spirit within me. He takes all my anxieties on Himself and helps me to focus on Him. Yes, though I walk through a time of grave uncertainties and fierce anxieties, I will not fret – for You are my peace. Your Word and Your presence calm me now. You hold my uncertainties in the palm of Your hand. You sooth my anxious mind – You smooth my wrinkled brow. Surely serenity and trust in You shall fill me all the days of my life. And I shall keep my mind stayed on Your forever. (page 204)

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3, NLT)

 

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