Open House and Open Heart

Climbing up the mountain is much easier with company; my hikes with Rita are proof of that. Walking, like living, is better together. When we come to the steep hills, we get quiet and work our way up the mountain. Knowing I’m not alone is a big motivation, and that’s why sweet loving connections are so important on this journey. It’s literally true as I walk up Indian Creek or figuratively so as I navigate the rough patches in life. Having someone walk beside me makes all the difference in life.

Living with my son and his family has been an amazing blessing, and I love that our home is on a beautiful mountaintop. I’ve been climbing, falling, and getting back up for sixty years, but I’ve found the same sweet sense of peace that comes when arriving home after a long and difficult trip. I’m not sure how God will work out the details, and I don’t even know if He will keep me here; but I do know I am where I need to be right now. There have been many changes in my life over the past few years, but the biggest one has been the change in the way I see my life and my heart. God placed the most amazing view of the western horizon right outside my bedroom door, and I marvel at how that view has changed the way I see HIm and myself.

I cannot help but stare in awe when I stop and take in His handiwork. I love to look at the beautiful view as I pray because I see His presence in the majestic mountains whether they are sunny and clear, nestled in the fog, or under an impending storm. My favorite time of day to pray is at sunset, and God always puts on an amazing display as we sit together and recall the day. I’m learning to listen as never before, and that makes the trip to the mountaintop worth all the climbing.

I’m also learning the importance of openness when it comes to loving and living together. Life and love are meant to be in the open, and that changes my heart in a very beautiful way. God has brought me to a home that is wide open inside and out. The sun rises on the front of our home and sets on the back; the town lies on the south side, and the quiet northern side sits quietly in the shade of beautiful plants and trees.

Getting to the top of the mountain is about finding openness. The summit allows me to see all that surrounds me. God made it clear this morning that love and life belong in the open. He knows my heart has been hidden away for far too long. He asks me to look at all that surrounds me and bids me to open my heart so He can have His way with it. God’s ways are all about truth, and truth flourishes in open hearts that share honest communion.

Love is what makes my hikes with Rita a joy. Love is also what makes life a joy-filled journey when shared with an openness that allows my heart to see in and be seen from all directions. With openness, comes reckoning, and that often brings deep hurt as God’s ways and mine collide. Giving up what I want isn’t easy, but holding on to it means missing the panoramic view He has of the world and heart He desires for me. Now that He’s given me a glimpse of that world and that heart, I know that I cannot settle for less.

Seeing life and love from God’s summit makes the climb worth the while and allows me to live in God’s Spirit in a way that changes my heart.

The view

Lifted by Love

The Hymn of Invitation on the Sunday of my profession of faith was “Love Lifted Me.” The lyrics were written by James Rowe, and Howard Smith composed the music. I’m not sure what influence the song had on my decision, but I do have a very vivid memory of it. The idea of being lifted out of the water is something to which I can relate because of my early experience at Lake Hickory. Daddy lifted me from the water when I was five and saved my life in the process. In April of 1964, Christ’s precious love lifted me from the turbulent waters of this life and saved my soul in a very similar process. I remember the feeling I had fifty years ago as if it happened yesterday. The Holy Spirit filled and lifted me as I’ve never been lifted before.

Love always lifts. It is a simple, but profound, lifting that takes the heart in a new place. That’s exactly what happened in the spring of 1964, and it’s what happens every time I find myself in God’s sweet presence. His love lifts me from the troubled waters and allows me to sing praises in the deepest water. His love never changes and is always present. It is love I depend and lean upon. Music touched me again this morning as we sang “Forever Reign” by Hillsong; my heart was reminded that there is nothing like God’s embrace.

Water has been at the heart of the lessons this week. Seeing water in Christ’s light changes everything. The sweet rain this morning reminded me of the living water Christ offers and took me back to my baptism. His living water replenishes and refreshes as nothing else can, and I welcome it as the dry ground welcomed the rain it so desperately needed this morning. God’s embrace opens my heart and allows it to completely soak in His Spirit.

Living a Spirit-filled life is living a life completely drenched in His Son’s precious love. It was raining this morning when Mylah came in to say good morning and rock in my rocker. I told her to look outside at the rain. She loved it until I told her we couldn’t swim in the rain. She stomped her foot and hit the glass door with the palms of her hands as if to make it go away. After she went upstairs, I started wondering why I couldn’t swim in the rain. I couldn’t think of a reason other than lightning:) It wasn’t storming, and I needed a shower before going to church; so, I put on my suit and hopped in. It was amazing! I loved floating on my back and letting the rain hit my face, and the hot shower after the swim was just what my body and soul needed to get me in the proper mood for worship.

The worship service was wonderful, and there were allusions to water in the songs we sang together in praise. I love it when God does that:) I came home from the service in a torrential downpour that filled the streets to overflowing and unnerved me as I tried to navigate in the menacing mess. It was a morning filled with soaking, but it was also a morning of reminders that God is with me in the storm, in the deep water, unexpected downpours, and the quiet pools. The sun peeked out from the clouds for a brief moment to reassure. Lillyann would say, “Look, Gigi, the sun is playing peek-a-boo!”

Everything was so clean and the pool was beautifully blue and still for a few moments before another front brought in another downpour. I love the fragrance and the clarity after the rain. Love has given my heart the same clarity this week as I’m learning to relax and let God’s love drench, quench, and lift it to a new level. The message this morning was to make sure my heart and both my hands are in the same accord so God’s love can not only lift my heart but also the hearts of those in my path. I pray my heart and hands will sing the sweet name of Jesus as I lose myself in His embrace.

Here’s the song that touched my heart this morning:)