Stillness

Stillness is ever waiting

For me to slow down my pace

To stop and take a moment

And forget about the race.

 

Often I have to be forced

To wait for a circumstance

Or be worn by weariness

To offer stillness a chance.

 

When I do stop to notice

I can hear a raindrop fall

And take in the tenderness

Of the One behind it all.

Between God and Me:)

Love is the only thing that matters when it comes to a wedding. Tyler and Gina’s wedding was a perfect example of that. I almost let all the activities and busyness of the week come between God and me, and I almost let the lesson in love He had for me slip away. I’m glad He persisted, and I’m thankful I finally understood His lesson last night. Weddings have the tendency to be busy, and this one was no exception. In the midst of the madness, God managed to quiet my spirit and touch my heart as never before. The images and lessons were clear, and His message was unmistakeable. All came together in a powerful way, and I found peace-filled relief as I listened to Him.

There comes a time when the only choice is letting go, and that letting go allowed me to draw nearer to God this week. I have a choice when it comes to doing and having what God desires. I can be obedient, or I can make the process more difficult for Him and for me.  I do that by rationalizing, ignoring the obvious, and delaying Him with my persistent questions and need to know. Lillyann helped with that lesson this week:) The lessons were obvious and would have been comical had they not cut so very deeply into my heart.

I was powerfully reminded that the things which get to me most are the ones which touch upon a sensitive spot in my heart. That sensitivity is always about my refusal to learn a lesson or see a truth about myself. If someone particularly angers or irritates, that indicates there is something in them which I refuse to see in myself.

I got myself into a dither over nothing this week and didn’t like what I heard and saw, but I learned the truth God wanted me to see. The truth often hurts, and the pain of recognizing that I share the quality that brings judgment when I see it in others is beyond humbling. It is devastating. God is faithful, so when I was humbled and flat on my face before Him yesterday, He gently led me to a place of understanding. I am thankful that He is faithful to take my humility and use it to teach. Last night as I cleaned, I found healing in a way I cannot describe effectively.

I opened windows as I cleaned, and the air that came through them felt like the Holy Spirit Himself airing me out. I couldn’t get away from that October breeze no matter where I went in the house, and I’m glad. It cleared my heart and my sinuses:) I was as tired as I’ve ever been in my life when I got home after dark, and I had to smile when I realized I was breathing was better. I love it when God does that. I slept like a baby after the physical activity that was such a blessing to me. Last night was icing on the beautiful cake this week.

Speaking of cake, we never got to the groom’s cake at the wedding. Things were hectic, and it was left unnoticed. If it had been an ordinary cake, I would have tossed it, but it was a heavenly work of art, so I brought it home and put it in the refrigerator. I wanted to save it, so I cut it into pieces to put in the freezer for the kids. I decided to have a piece, and it was amazing! I have never eaten a better chocolate cake in my life!! I can’t wait until Tyler and Gina taste it this evening. I plan to have some waiting for them and know they will enjoy it even more than I did.

Difficult lessons are difficult for a reason. Most lessons God has in mind are not easy, but they are the ones I most need to learn. That late night chocolate was literally a sweet sticker God put on the week to let me know that He noticed that I did something hard and learned something valuable as a result. My students know how I feel about stickers, so they’ll understand just what I mean. Whether it’s one of Lillyann’s little yellow stars on the refrigerator, a smiley sticker in school, or an A on an important entrance exam, it all adds up to the same feeling. I did what I was supposed to do, and in so doing learned a valuable lesson. It’s nice when someone notices, and God never fails to notice because He is God the best teacher ever. Obedience does indeed lead to joy.

Here’s my facebook post this morning and the amazing image that helped me remember that when it comes to a groom and his bride, love is all that matters. The same is true for God and me, and I don’t plan to let anything come between me and my God:)

This beautiful image captures the love between Tyler and Gina. Just as with this wonderful couple, nothing must come between Christ and me. I let the waiting of this world and the scurrying around do that sometimes, but Gina and Tyler taught me that love is all that truly matters when it comes to a wedding. My favorite moment in the wedding was when they expressed that love to one another in the vows they prepared. “I vow to let nothing come between us, God, and our children, and hold this beautiful family under God as my guiding light from now until eternity.” When I heard that, my heart could only say amen and pray the same for all of us. Thank you Aaron for your sweet patient love that captured the image that sums it up so beautifully♥

When it comes to weddings, nothing matters but the love between the bride and groom:)

Heart of Diamonds

Like a diamond, my heart has many facets. God used that image to teach an important lesson yesterday. He has been cutting away at my heart for decades, and sometimes the pain is more than I can bear. Yesterday, He showed me His handiwork on my heart, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. God has always seen what I could not when it comes to my heart. I’ve made many mistakes in regard to love, but God is love and knows what He’s doing when it comes to love and hearts. He continued to cut and polish even when I resisted.  The beauty of a well-cut diamond is that it becomes more beautiful as it is turned and held up to the light. My heart was turned all around yesterday in God’s light, and I saw love, hope, peace, and joy beyond anything I could have imagined on my own.

According to Wikipedia, when it comes to shaping diamonds, “Cut does not refer to shape (pear, oval), but the symmetry, proportioning and polish of a diamond. The cut of a diamond greatly impacts a diamond’s brilliance; this means if it is cut poorly, it will be less luminous.” I understand and appreciate that more after yesterday:)

The scriptures this week are from Hebrews 4:12-16

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

When I’ve read those scriptures, I have always imagined God with His scalpel cutting away at my heart in a loving and skillful manner. That is a beautiful image and one that is accurate given that the Greek word for two-edged sword in the passage is similar to a scalpel. I know the wedding today is all part of the image involving a diamond. In the hands of a master diamond cutter, a rough piece of worthless rock becomes a priceless masterpiece. In the wrong hands, a priceless jewel becomes a pile of useless dust. I’m thankful God knows what He is doing. His love has a precision that the world’s best diamond cutter envies.

God sees beauty where I cannot. He’s been carefully cutting and polishing my heart for sixty years. He placed it in the perfect setting yesterday and bid me to take a look. As He held my heart up for me to see, I saw love all around in the faces of my family, and I also saw Him in the beautiful mountains that I know He made just for me. He was waving and smiling broadly everywhere I went yesterday. I love it when He shows off, and He definitely did that in a big way yesterday. We all love seeing our handiwork and want others to see it too. God is no exception:)

I thought you might think I was exaggerating, so I’m including a photo:) Can you see God in the background? He’s always there, but sometimes I don’t notice. Can you imagine that?

 

Ordinary Time

In the Christian calendar, the time that falls outside the distinctive liturgical seasons is known as Ordinary Time. There are 33-34 weeks of Ordinary Time which fall between Christmas and Lent, and between Easter and Advent. In Latin it’s called Tempus Per Annum or time throughout the year. The term comes from the word “ordinal,” which simply means counted time and has nothing to do with the ordinary or mundane.

As I went through the busy day yesterday, I thought about how my own time is counted. I go from season to season much as the church calendar does, but it is the time in between those busy seasons that make up most of my life. Talking with a friend, sharing a meal, playing with the girls, reading, and writing would be considered ordinary time in my life.

Counting time is a big part of my life. Counting down from one holiday or special event to another is very like that liturgical calendar, but I miss the ordinary time in life if I focus upon counting down. When it comes to my calendar, the ordinary time is the most precious time of all, and I mean that in an ordinary and mundane way.  I understand the concept of the liturgical calendar and use it as I study and pray; but when it comes to living my life, I plan to make sure I develop a deeper appreciation of that ordinary time between special events.

Holidays and special events cause many to sink into a state of despair and depression. I think everyone can relate to that or to the post celebration blues that follow a special day. I thank God for the celebrations on the liturgical calendar and on my own, but I pray that I will gain a greater appreciation for the ordinary time in both and be mindful of how I wait for God. How I wait is entirely up to me, and I can smile if I remember that God has me in the palm of His hand. I rarely remember that when I’m marching off on my own. Mylah learned to march this week, and her goose step is hilarious:) I go off with my own goose step, and I am thankful that God sees the humor in my marching around as I see it with Mylah’s. Even Lillyann had to belly laugh when she saw her little sister’s serious stepping:)

Joy takes on a new meaning as I learn patience in waiting and understand that suffering is an important part of the process of finding the fundamental joy that so differs from the ha ha happiness I often seek and the Pollyanna joy that can lead to the deepest despair of all. The deep joy God has in mind is not lighthearted happiness that comes from circumstances or pretending all is well but rather a fundamental joy that comes from the overwhelming sense that God’s hand is holding me always. I don’t truly get that until I am made aware that I’m not holding myself.  That’s where suffering enters in. As I come to that level of learning, I can smile knowing that He knows me and I truly know Him. That is what joy is all about.

Suffering teaches obedience, and obedience leads to joy. A simple path, but one on which I am given the choice of coming to know God and finding His joy or turning my back on Him and blaming Him for my hurt. There are times when I wish I didn’t have the choice; but then I realize that choice is what leads to joy and knowing God intimately, so I wouldn’t have it any other way.