gratitude

No room for failure

Each morning, I spend time reading, praying, and meditating. This morning I started reading the book of Joshua in the Bible. I came across a line in verse five that resonated with me.

“I will not fail you or forsake you.”

I underlined that portion of the verse and meditated on it briefly before gathering cookies for Maggie’s classmates, my cup of coffee, car keys, and cell phone. I whisked Maggie out the door and cranked up the heat. It’s that time of year when I feel false hope about autumn coming until about 10 a.m. By noon, I’m sweating and shedding my sweater.

63910_552312649722_1189983164_nAfter dropping Maggie off at school, I returned home to a peaceful, quiet house. We live in the woods, and the sunlight strives to shine through the grove of trees on the eastern hill. The verse I selected came back to me as I stood staring at the sun.

“I will not fail you or forsake you.”

God isn’t failing or forsaking the leaves on those trees and has provided them with exactly the right amount of moisture since spring. God doesn’t fail the trees either; the only trees that fall are those ready to die, decaying at the core. I looked at the light reflecting off the dew on our grass and spider webs in the forest. He maintains the smallest bits of creation we overlook.

Of course he is not forsaking me either.

He provides me with just the right clients at the right time. Last week, one of my favorite clients notified me that this year, funding wasn’t available to hire me. My heart sank. A few hours later, a potential client called me and said he was ready to start working together. Maybe that timing was coincidental; I prefer to view it as providential. God always knows what I need when I need it, even if it’s just to confirm that He’s going before me and planning in love.

God is not failing or forsaking me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI worried off and on for a year about how my daughter would adjust to starting kindergarten. Each time these fears came to mind, I attempted to let go and trust God. Sometimes I felt relief. Other times I wasn’t sure God would come through for me, even though His track record is stellar. But of course He came through. She was placed in a classroom with the most caring, committed, and well-trained teacher I know. She’s thriving. I’ve seen huge leaps in her ability to write and communicate in just three weeks’ time. And almost every day when I pick her up from school, she yells with glee, “This was the best day EVER!”

God is not forsaking or failing my child. 

There is no space for fear when I focus on the ways God has come through for me in the past.

There is no room for fear when I focus on how God is providing for me today either.

 

gratitude

Simple as that

Yesterday my little sister piled up turkey, dressing, casseroles, bread, pie, and salad for a neighbor and walked across the street. We drank coffee while she spent an hour chatting with him; he’s not really into big family gatherings, but he probably appreciated the quiet conversation.

The day before Thanksgiving, I received a gift card in the mail for this same neighbor. I’d mentioned his home repair needs to some friends. His house caught fire years ago, and he’s been attempting to repair it here and there for years ever since.

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay

This woman lives two hours away. She’s never met this man and probably never will. She doesn’t need to; she believes me when I tell her he is living in a shop building with no heat, no running water, and no electricity. She believes me when I explain that he has been unemployed and looking for work. She believes me, and she helps.

Not everything in life is this simple.

But maybe we have made things too complicated.

I’ve served on non-profit boards. I’ve organized fundraisers for organizations and helped raise $150,000 in a single evening. I’m not opposed to large-scale fundraising or development efforts.

There’s something refreshing, though, about hearing a stripped down, simplified “yes” to the question: Do you want to help this man?

My husband asked, “What is your plan once you gather these resources? What are you going to do exactly?”

“Well, I don’t have a plan. We’ll see what happens depending on how much money we can raise and how many people want to help.”

There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t trust God enough to handle any details—details of a project or plan and certainly not details of my life. I don’t feel that way today. I know God loves this man. I know God loves me, too.

Simple as that.

 

gratitude

Love…

Today’s post is by my friend and regular contributor Debra Dickey. 

Love.   An oddly challenging concept for me to write about — definitions and dimensions; cursive and variegated; richly prismatic, yet often elusive.  I understand love, I know what love is all about, and I am quite unselfish when sharing love. Fluid in sentiment and arbitrary in measurement, still, love can certainly be experienced in a variety of shapes, forms, sizes, depths, and degrees.

My growing-up years were more about ‘food, clothing, and shelter’ kinds of love — making sure we were safe, that we were doing what we were supposed to, and that we, in return, exhibited the appropriate respect and appreciation for others.  I never felt “unloved”, but neither were there open displays of affection in our home, hugs and personal interactions, those sorts of things, but there was always care.  And I knew that to be true.  Shading.

When I had children of my own, I quickly learned a different universe of love that I chose to expand and build on and never let go of.  So, I created the unconditional relationship of pure love with my children that I wanted them to know, and that I so desired as the parent of two wonderful people.  They got it, and by knowing their kind and thoughtful reciprocations, there is joy.   Resounding love.

I’ve also experienced something that was supposed to be love, but was not, from one who should have been my biggest supporter, but had not the emotional capability to honor that role, toward hollowness.  Arduous love.

And every day, I am mindful of the people around me who love me, and I do know who they are.  It is ever amazing to be a part of who they are, and celebrate with revelry in what they are to me — real and genuine and without ulterior motive.  I love them back! Gregarious love.

Despite not always knowing how it will turn out, I have loved, and will, love fluently with all my whole heart and every ounce of my being, many, many times, and I would not trade one of those moments for anything the world has to offer.  If we are fortunate, the very best that we can hope for is to be the admirable recipient of undiluted, unadulterated, beautiful love at its noblest – by whichever description it is that we choose to identify its meaningfulness.

In bunches, on its own, soaring, or in a whisper…. Love is what it is.  Exotic or common, crusty or smooth around the edges.  Not always where you look, but occasionally found in unexpected places.  Sometimes it’s grand, sometimes it’s dumb, sometimes it’s ugly, sometimes it’s easy, and more often than not, it is rare.

goldgiftWe were created in love, to love, and to be loved.  Of all the things that love is, no matter what else, Love is truly a Gift.

gratitude

The greatest love

Today’s post is written by my friend Betty Gail Jones. Thank you, Betty Gail, for the beautiful reminder of the greatest love of all.

There once was a man who lived in perfect paradise where he was surrounded by riches and beauty.  Every hour was filled with wonderful music, and he continually experienced peaceful serenity in his home.  He had servants who adored him and met his every need.

His heart, however, was overwhelmed with a longing to be with his love.  He had watched her and seen her struggles.  Her life was filled with grief and disappointment.  She was a victim of the chaos which surrounded her.  War and pestilence had torn her.  He was to be her “knight in shining armor,” her rescuer, and nothing could hold him back.  He would go to her – move into her neighborhood – and care for her like no other had done.  He knew the danger and the pain that he would be inviting into his life, but he loved her and nothing else would do.

So he left his protected palace and went to her.  He fought for her, and he created her anew.  He would stay with her forever.  His plan was to make her his bride.  He would lavish all of his own riches upon her and never let her go.  He changed her and made her whole by his love.

But then the unthinkable happened.  There were those who had wished to bring harm to his love and keep her for themselves as a slave.  They were very angry and began to plot against this man who had come to save his love.  And so they killed him.  He, who had given all – his very life – for the one he loved, was laid to rest and covered by the cold grave, which had been prepared for his body.

There is a fairy tale ending to this story of sorts, however.  The good guy wins.  And the best part is – it is not a fairy tale at all.  The story is true.  You see, the man of whom I speak was more than a man – He was God.  And the love that he came to rescue was his Bride, the church.  This is the greatest love of which I know.

Office pic 2God always had a plan for his church.  Though she has battle scars, has failed Him, and throughout history has been embattled and bruised, He loves her – enough to die for her.  He has made a plan for the day when His Bride will meet Him at the great wedding feast.  She will be adorned with the purest white attire, and He will await her at the alter.  At that time, all the scars and disfigurement caused by the hardships of this present world will be gone, and she will stand before her Greatest Love, in perfection.  He will make all of this possible, because of His great love for her – His most prized creation.

Now – THAT is a love story!

gratitude

Untied shoelaces and lost gloves

Today’s post is written by my great friend, Debra Dickey. Thanks for the great reminder, Debra, that God is always faithful to me in the small things, too.

Glove #2I have had the honor of an unconventional amount of both during this past year.  At first, the phenomenon was a bit of a nuisance, but by allowing it to be so, soon it became a point of inter-communication, an inside joke if you will, an almost secret wink between me and the One Who watches over me, causing me to raise an eyebrow at the humor, as He reminded me to not be annoyed, but to be grateful and to take those moments to praise and thank Him.

Although I cannot begin to count how many times my shoelace has come untied, I can count how many times, at the moment when I needed to stop what I was doing, stoop down and bow my head to retie it, that I took that moment just to say ‘Praise God’… EVERY time.  Thank you. Simple, yet powerful.

I do know how many times I have lost that one glove from last winter to this one.  Three!!  Each time, I would get back to the house from walking Maddie, realize the glove was missing, and begin the back-tracking process in hopes that I would be able to locate it, in the snow, in the mud, or who knows wherever I had dropped it during the lengthy and meandering trek we had taken.  And every time, sooner or later, I was able to find it!  A glove?  Easily replaceable, you say.  Not a big deal, right.  But it was, to me anyway.  So I uttered hallelujahs and praises when I saw it, and gratefully said ‘THANK YOU!’

Oh but yes.  Someone is trying to get my attention.  In a comical way, huh?  So much the better!  Someone is trying to tell me that little things do matter.  “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much . . . . .” [Luke 16:10]  (‘He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much’ . . . . as spoken in the King James version.)

Although this parable from Luke was meant as a guideline for how God, and we, should try to identify a trustworthy approach to the world and its peoples, there is a converse maxim to that as well, a truism that Someone is trying to instill in me:  That He is faithful to me in the little things, therefore He will be faithful to me in the bigger ones.  In other words, if I can depend on Him to help me find a lost glove (and I do!!), He lovingly reminds me that I can surely trust Him in the “much” of my life too.  Ordainment and Promise of Perfect Comfort, Absolute and Supreme; I only need to own it.

With certainty I always ‘know’ this in my heart/ my spirit being:   “But I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.” [II Tim. 1:12]  It’s my human existence that struggles with the essence of that kind of power, strength and ability.  So for my benefit, He cares enough to take that precious moment to kindly remind me, in the smallest of ways, even with a lost glove or an untied shoestring, to acknowledge His Omnipotence, not only to myself, but to Him.  He is able.  And my faithfulness to Him is nothing compared to His faithfulness to me.   Simple, yet completely overwhelming.

‘Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us’ [I John 3:1] because we are His.

gratitude

It’s all God

*Special thanks to my friend Debra Dickey for serving as today’s guest contributor!*

Every image, every application, every petition that is granted, every prayer that is answered, it’s all God.  Every beautiful flower, every new kitten, every cake that rises, it’s all God.  Every musical note, every laugh, every talent, every shade of color, every blade of grass, every surprise of wonder, it’s all God.  Every drop of rain, every new plant, every field that is plowed, it’s all God.

Every hug, every ounce of love, every tear that falls, every knowledge on earth, it’s all God.  Every child, every person, every gift, every joy, every challenge, it’s all God.  Every blessing, every harvest, every snowfall, every successful endeavor, every lesson learned, it’s all God.  Every thoughtful gesture, every kind word, every safe passing, every road traveled, every insight, it’s all God.  Everything that matters, every opportunity for good, everything that creates a miracle, everything that happens, it’s all God.  Everything is God.  Every communication, every prayer, every meditation, every devotion, it’s all God.

For a while now, my children and I have faced challenges that have been and continue to be initiated by situations in every way beyond our control.  I have been at the business of prayer for many, many months and many, many years seeking answers, guidance, healing, and miracles.  Just recently I sat in a doctor’s office praying lengthily for a definitive outcome regarding a test that my son was having.  That prayer was answered, positively, and with good care and advice for the next steps.  I was overjoyed, elated, and grateful, sending praise and hallelujahs to the One whom my faith is directed towards that makes miracles happen.   To myself I thought, “At last, finally, one burden that I can lay down.”  It is all God.

Just two days later my daughter called with a daunting, urgent issue that needed to be resolved, and requested my assistance in working through the questions, considering appropriate and advantageous options, navigating a process new to her but which I had experience and connections with regard to, and then making the arrangements and following up to help her successfully accomplish what needed to be done.

Well _2To my own discredit, my initial reaction when I received that call was, “Oh my word, I’ve just prayed for and received a monumental blessing and divine miracle for which I am SO eternally grateful — How many times can I keep coming back and dipping in this well????”  Seriously, God, just moments ago You answered my humble prayers and bestowed Your Mighty blessing upon us . . . . and here I am, AGAIN… making another petition, asking for another favor, seeking Your authorship and benevolence for yet another problem!!”   This surely can’t be real.  My heart melts like wax, my emotions swoon within me.  How much can I ask of you, O God?   I am fearful, but I hold up my shield of faith, approach His Throne of Grace, offer my prayer, ask for God’s Omnipotence and Omniscience, beseech Care, Guidance, and Wisdom from Jesus Christ my Lord, and call upon His Holy Spirit to fill the space with Presence.   He made it happen.  More praise and hallelujahs!!  My heart overflows because of His Goodness.  I am humbled by His Greatness, and my soul cannot comprehend the depths of His Love.  There are not enough words in any language to fully praise Him.  Another worry allayed.  Thank you!  It’s all God!

As per the seeming dictums of my life, yesterday my son came to me to discuss yet another genuine concern that might be heading his direction.  I will take it to God.  Always and inevitably more.  This is my life — apprehensive; embroiled and entrenched, seemingly without an endpoint…..continual hurdles, inveterate mountains – and so necessarily absolute with me, embedded in incomparable prayer without ceasing.  It’s not that I don’t believe that my God is big enough, it’s just that there appears to be much before me of inordinate measure, and I don’t ever want to use up all of my favors with Him – the Source of All Living Waters.

The comfort flows plentifully and constantly as a river; strong as a stream to bear down the opposition of doubts and fears. The Spirit dwelling and working in believers, is as a fountain of living, running water, out of which plentiful streams flow,”  [biblehub.com]  Amen.