When A Door Closes….

I ended up on the Road to Nowhere this afternoon instead of my regular aerobics class. As I walked toward the door to the church, I just couldn’t go in. I had been outside with Mylah and Lillyann earlier in the day, and I did not want to go home and sit. I needed to exercise, but that door was definitely closed. I decided to call Rita and see if she wanted to walk up Indian Creek.

Rita lives on the Road to Nowhere and wanted me to come to her house and see the new curtains. She said we could walk down the driveway and take a short walk afterward. We ended up walking and talking for an hour. The views were breathtaking as was the walk on the extremely steep grade. It was just what my heart needed. God used the change in plans to teach me a very important lesson. When a door closes, the world opens up. I had to smile as He took the blindsiding I got earlier and used it to open my eyes to His handiwork and His will.

The lessons this week have been powerful ones about my family and my world. I’ve allowed myself to be confined and defined in ways that constrict and come between God and me. Today, He showed off on a wagon ride with the girls and an unexpected trip to Nowhere. For those of you unfamiliar with the famous Road to Nowhere, here’s a link to some amazing photos that will help you understand what God had in mind for me today, and what I would have missed if I had gone in that door and done repetitive exercises indoors: The Road to Nowhere

As I walked and talked, I looked at the beauty around me and realized that nowhere is the perfect destination. I talked earlier in the morning with a friend about the frustrations that come with not knowing what’s next in the path. God’s will isn’t about settling down in a building, mapping out a life-long plan, and then sitting back comfortably to wait until He comes or I go. It is about getting out into the world, finding His beauty, loving my family and friends, and taking time to just be with Him. I am guilty of sticking to the safety that the same routine offers, and God made it perfectly clear today that the lessons this week have been about changing that.

It’s ironic that folks literally travel from all over the world to ride on The Road to Nowhere. It’s only one example of the beauty I let get away from me each day. The girls wagon ride was another example of my not noticing the spectacular right before my eyes. Here is the view they see each day when they go out to play. Lillyann’s room looks out on some amazing views, and the horses are just icing on the cake. Her room is all about horses, and we played horses while I was there today. Take a look at what she sees when she looks out her window:

How in the world can anyone take that view for granted? God would like to hear my answer to that question:) The girls ran to the kitchen window several times today to look at the horses, and I went with them and enjoyed the horses and their delight in them. Sometimes, God has to close a door to get me out into His world. He bid me to come out and play today, and I’m glad that two little girls and a closed door nudged me in the right direction. Now, I pray I will do it on my own each and every day as I set out on the road God has in mind for me even if it isn’t the one I had in mind or is clearly marked “The Road to Nowhere:)”

I have to add another picture that I believe God would want me to include as I had a nice conversation with the fellow across the street from the kids before I headed home. I should have listened to what he and God were saying to me, but I stubbornly went down my own path to do the same repetitions I always do for exercise instead of getting outside on this spectacular day. I’m glad God closed a door so I could get out into His world and enjoy all He had in mind for me today. My new friend is very handsome and is filled with good old common horse sense. I love that in a man:)

 

Mylah High :)

When Gina came home from class yesterday, I stayed while she feed Mylah. Lillyann is sick, and I wanted to give her some special attention while Mylah nursed. Mylah is in the difficult process of weaning, so she was cut off before she was ready to stop. I love the sweet expression on her face after she nurses. I call it the Mylah high:) Her eyes are glassy, and her countenance expresses joy and peace and love all rolled into one. She has complete contentment, something for which we all search. My journey has lead me to many substitutes when it comes to finding the satisfaction my heart, body, soul, and spirt so crave. Yesterday, as Mylah and Lillyann slept on top of me, I finally found it. I learned this week that listening to and obeying God connects me to Him and His love in a way that is much better than a Mylah high:)

It’s easy to point fingers at those who do drugs because they are illegal and most folks don’t use them. It becomes a little harder to point to those with alcohol addictions and impossible to point at those who use food to get high. Workaholics are rewarded by society, and doers are dubbed saints in the church. We each have a drug of choice, but it never comes near the sweet satisfaction Mylah gets from nursing. God’s love is the only potion known to man that is better than mama’s milk. There is an unlimited supply; it’s free, and there are no harmful side effects. So why isn’t everyone running out to get some?

The problem is connecting and staying connected to the sweet source of God’s love and doing His will rather than mine or the world’s. Christ connects me to God’s love, and His Holy Spirit and Word keep me connected and help me find His will. Like everyone, I’ve tried many paths to contentment. They all left me either stuffed and miserable or drained and starving. Food is the safe drug of choice because churches not only condone gluttony, they encourage it. Fellowship around the table is essential to relationship, but the gathering often is more about filling than fellowship. The practice of having the Lord’s Supper together as a way of connecting to God and to one another has evolved into a plethora of platters filled with things that satisfy our bellies and have little to do with worship. Gluttony has become the sin of choice out of both convenience and frustration.

The world is like that platter of tempting food, and God’s will is the simple loaf and cup often left behind. His will becomes my project done on my time with with due credit and accolades expected. God’s simple will sits on the back burner.  Activities replace relationship and it comes down to I’ll do it if you feed me. I’ll get around to it after work if I’m not too tired. I’ll do what’s expected if there aren’t any shows, games, practices or better offers in the way. I’ve chosen to do and do rather than drink in God’s sweet nourishing love, draw near to HIm, and do His will. Mylah will nurse anytime, anywhere, and any way.  I pray I’ll have the same attitude when it comes to doing God’s will from now on.

Mylah needs nourishment, but she also needs to get close to mama and feel her presence. The same is true when it comes to God. He is Jehovah Jireh and will provide for all my needs, but He is also Adonai. Mylah is learning the hard lesson that she must transition to solid food and was absolutely adorable holding on to a little piece of cornbread and strutting around like a big girl yesterday. I spilled milk all over her shirt and scared her half to death when I had a bottle malfunction.  I’m sure she was wondering why I even bother with the bottle when there is a perfectly wonderful alternative available. I wonder the same thing when I think about how God is on the back burner for so many when it comes to getting high. Mylah will eventually let go of the bottle and learn that it’s really mommy’s love that makes nursing so special. She will always have that. Her name means “My Love Always”, and mommy made it up:) God’s love is always there. Listening to His sweet voice and doing that which He places in my path is meant to help me draw nearer to God’s love. Love is what I have always sought, and in finding God’s, I’ve found my source of contentment.

I feel just the way Mylah looks each time I study God’s Word, pray, do His will, or just take time to be with Him. It’s even better than a Mylah high. As I do what God places in my path, I understand exactly how Mylah feels when she nurses. When I try to placate or pacify with that which the world places in my path, I feel just like Mylah did with milk all over her and the floor. God has shown me over the past week what it feels like to be closely connected and taking in His sweet love. As I have done His will and seen the results in my own heart and in the lives of those I’ve touched, I have achieved an even better high than Mylah.

I’m not getting weaned; I’m just getting started:) I’m addicted and pray that Mylah and Lillyann also get addicted to doing God’s will because it allows the fruit of His Spirit to grow beautifully. There’s nothing like it in this world:) The alternative is a sick belly that leaves me feeling the way Lillyann did yesterday. Nothing can satisfy when the tummy is twisted in a knot, and that’s what doing the world’s will feels like.  Doing and doing just to do creates a big a pile of do do, and that isn’t pleasant for anyone. The way to tell the difference is there is bellyaching and do do in doing my will or the world’s. There is peace that’s better than a Mylah high when I’m doing God’s will.

God’s will isn’t difficult to find. Mother Teresa used to ask those who wanted to follow her and do what she did if there was no one in their home, their family, their neighborhood, or their community who needed them. She told them when there were none there, to come and see her. That was enough to humble, and I thought of her this week as God has reminded me of the many in my path who need a loving hand. Doing God’s will doesn’t bring attention or accolades, but it does bring the sweet sense of satisfaction that leaves me with glassy eyes and a state of contentment. Knowing my contentment will be complete when I come into His presence and spend eternity with God changes the journey and puts a bounce in my step as I walk in His kingdom now:)

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:)

A Servant’s Heart

The wedding yesterday reminded me of the value of a servant’s heart. There were several beautiful examples as I looked around the room last night and perused the photos this morning. Rita is officially family now, but she has been a dear friend and kindred spirit for much longer. She exemplifies the servant’s heart and is as selfless as anyone I’ve ever known. Her son, Kevin, is the most kind and giving man I’ve ever seen. My son showed his true character in the beautiful vows that showed his love for God and his precious girls. As he waited patiently, I thought of Christ who does the same when it comes to me:)

There was a lot of waiting yesterday, but Rita calmly went about taking care of all the details so others could have the spotlight and enjoy the wedding. I learned many valuable lessons from her last night. The most important was on focusing upon what is truly important. She held Mylah while she slept and took her home with her for the evening. She watched and beamed as those in the room enjoyed all she had done to make a special occasion more memorable. She not only understands exactly what Christ meant when He called us to be servants, she is one:)

While others were frazzled, she was calm. While others were impatient, she was relaxed. Rita will always be close to my heart, and I pray that I will grow to be more like her as we share the path. I thank God for the lessons and the love I got yesterday. Good waiting is about knowing what is important, but it is more about what you think of yourself and others. Rita clearly thinks of others, and I love that about her. I saw the same selfless love in my son as he did a great deal of waiting yesterday. He smiled and listened and let his bride have her day. I love that about him.

Kevin, or Pepe as the girls lovingly call him, quietly took care of so many tasks that I lost count. He always does that, and I forget sometimes to acknowledge his selfless and sacrificial love. That’s so true of those who quietly take care of what needs to be done without wanting or getting any credit or attention. I admire Kevin and told him years ago how thankful I was that he is in Tyler’s life. He made sure Gina and Tyler had a beautiful wedding, and I love him for that. His mom is a dear friend, and he is like a son to me.

As we danced last night, I’ve never been more proud of Tyler or closer to God. I love this photo because Rita, Kevin, and Tyler are all in it. The moment was a special one for Tyler and for me, and Rita is enjoying it as much as we are. Kevin was busy taking care of the endless details that made the evening so special That’s what love is all about, and I was privileged to be surrounded by it.

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?

 

May I Have Your Attention Please:)

As I watched Lillyann and Mylah yesterday, I was struck by their need for my attention. That isn’t a problem because I give them my full attention when I’m there. My heart goes out to momma and daddy who have to also juggle school, work, and household chores. The problem is that each wanted my undivided attention:) I was frustrated until I realized God was using those sweet little girls to teach a serious lesson.

With all the preparations for the wedding and the mixed-up schedule, Lillyann was feeling a little left out. I was also more frazzled and got impatient myself. Children are not the only ones with the need for attention, and God showed me that I am very like Lillyann when I don’t get attention from loved ones. Time is relative and so is attention. Like Lillyann, I forget that everyone doesn’t have the time I do, and I’m not the only one vying for their attention. I’m old enough to know better and don’t have the excuse of being three:)

Since I retired completely last year, I find myself feeling more and more like Lilly when folks don’t have time for me. I pout and fret as she does but only when by myself because I’m the only one invited to my pity parties. Lilly is honest and open and invites everyone to hers:) I know it sounds silly, but watching Lilly feeling left out today made me realize that I feel the same way at times. I stay busy and help with the girls, but it isn’t the same as having a full time job, school, and children. I was reminded of that today.

I plan to repent and remember that I have more time than most as well as the freedom to decide what I want to do with it. That’s the beauty of and the problem with retirement. I’m so thankful to have the time to help with those sweet little girls and to volunteer. It is a blessing to have time and freedom, but I have to remember that others do not have the same luxury.

The need for attention is at the heart of most problems when it comes to relationship. I’m not the only one who feels the need for attention, but I felt pretty guilty yesterday as I watched Lillyann acting out and saw myself. I may act out differently, but the results are the same. It’s not easy to see myself as a three-year-old who’s having a bad day; but that’s the image God chose. It was an effective one that embarrassed and humbled, and I plan to take what I learned and apply it to my walk.

When I focus on myself and the attention I need, I will always be disappointed. When I remember that time is relative and some have none to spare, I’ll think before I expect it from others.  I’ll also be mindful that there are those in nursing facilities or home alone who have an abundance of time and would appreciate some attention. They also love lavishing attention on others.

Children want the same thing we all want-time and attention. When I have time, I expect others to have it too. In a perfect world, time would be more evenly divided as would all resources. In heaven, time doesn’t matter because God has everyone’s undivided attention. No one there worries about getting attention because they’re too busy giving it to God. When I’m giving attention, I think much less about getting it. When I give God my undivided attention, my problems concerning time and attention fade away.  That was the beautiful lesson yesterday:)