These posts appear on this blog...Titus 2 In Action
Not Laboring In Vain...
"Unless the Lord builds the house, it's builders labor in vain." Psalm 127:1
When I met the man who would become my husband, he had one thing on his mind...his house. He was deep in the throes of building a beautiful home on a quiet little street. Eventually, he would finish the house and we would marry making our sweet Victorian house into a home. We have welcomed two children in this home, and mourned the losses of three others. This year, our youngest will have her kindergarten pictures snapped on our homey wrap around porch, the same place her older sister had hers taken when she was five.
Big old trees surround our property and an old, historic carriage house stands somewhat precariously at the forefront of our little patch of Heaven. Ten years have elapsed, our home now needs work...painting and fixing and hammering, oh my! But I would not trade our humble abode for a perfect one, without the dents, scratches and history.
This house knows how far I have come and how much I have grown to love where God planted us. When our elder daughter came along, I was preoccupied with the thought that our home was not the home I had dreamed of. I had different visions for the kitchen, ours a large farmhouse kitchen that blends unknowingly into the dining room. I had different visions for the steps, ours white with a beautiful Victorian runner adorning each wooden tread, I dreamed of oak hardwood. Needless to say, there were many years I coveted the homes of others and secretly stashed Homes magazines pouring over the pages looking for our perfect home. But God knew all along...He knew this was our home. Over and over, He would provide for me confirmation that He ordained this home to be our own. With prayer and a resignation of my pride, God showed me time and time again to love and nurture this home and not jump ahead of Him.
....I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." Philippians 4: 11b - 13, NIV
As I prayed about my worldly desires and my dream home, God reminded me very clearly, "I am your dwelling place." POOF! Just like that, God had managed to soften that hard place inside, that place that was dishonoring the labors of my husband's hands and the plan God had clearly orchestrated. In an instant, I felt the selfish desires slip away and began to see the beauty and provision in our home. It was in this home that my husband and two children learned how to pray, this home makes light work of driving the children to school and myself to that same school for work, it was in this home, that we consciously changed our lives, doing devotions each day and reading our Bibles consistently.
Ultimately, it became clear to me that the Lord does not desire for us to become attached to our worldly posessions. As special and meaningful as it is that my dear husband built the home we live in, truly it is not a home until we fully recognize the critical role God played in building this home too. Until we submit completely to His will, we are laboring in vain.
So, especially today, I ask, where are you laboring in vain? Are there areas of your life not fully committed to our precious Lord? Each day, I begin with prayer asking God, what is it you have for me today, Lord? I desire to serve Him with a joyful spirit and stand content with where He has me...is He the Lord of your home this day?
525, 600 Minutes
LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am.
Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. Psalm 39:4-5
That is how many minutes are in one year.
What are we doing with those minutes?
A recent storm took our power for just a few moments. Everything stopped. The computer was forced to rely on battery power, the radio stopped, no warning, just yielded to the silence of our home, the washing machine ceased it's spinning and the air shut down.
Though the clock remained still, quiet, dark...time was still passing. Not even the rage of the storm could stop time. Time is something that stops for no-one. We can’t reverse it, neither can we regain it…what we have and what we do with it is fully within our hands.
In making the Sabbath Day Holy, or set apart for no work or labor – God was trying to show us the importance of making time for Him. As a child, I attended church every single Sunday. As an adult, it seemed natural to carry on the tradition. Truly, one hour per week...who cannot commit to that? There are 8766 hours per year, only 52 of them brimming with the expectation of worship. So, a challenge still remains – will we set aside time for our Lord and Saviour? Are we saving our time for Him, strictly for church, or are we spending time with Him daily in His Word and in prayer?
"And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed." Mark 1:35
It amazing that for things we ‘want’ to do- time very seldom is a factor. We rearrange, reschedule, cut short, cancel, we make all the necessary changes to make ‘it happen’. But for God…the first fruits are not always reserved for Him. He just always seems to get the ‘timeouts’ of our life. Just a few seconds here and there, and then we wonder why life is passing us by. He calls us and we forgo calling Him back. He sends us His people tired, needy and desperately craving His truths and we busily hurry by them, missing the opportunity to share Him with them. What are you doing with your minutes? I know mine are painfully misaligned. I certainly don't mean it to be that way, however if my time is short, then I want to be serious about making changes to embrace the Lord every.single.day.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31
This summer, God has quietly led me through the first part of a year-long journey through His Word. I look forward to our quiet time together and anxiously scroll through the readings eager for His wisdom and prayerful about what He is doing in my life. In encouragement and love, I share with you that "I don't always get it." However, the Lord has made it clear to ALL of us that our understanding is not His understanding. Ultimately, I do desire to understand clearly, however, for this minute, I am at peace spending critical time with the Lord each day, trusting His guidance and wisdom to make ALL of my minutes more meaningful, with His purpose and not my own.
"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Psalm 90:12
With Him, life goes from being just good to great; discernment helps me manage my time better. He has shown me how I need to prioritize differently. Our minutes need to "count", my minutes with Him make the rest of the minutes worthwhile. If I can do "it", whatever "it" may be, to His glory and serve Him gladly; 525,600 minutes hold great purpose.
We are assured that if we seek Him readily, he seeks us also.
What are you doing with your minutes???
"The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:5b-7
Have you ever been really surprised? The kind of surprise where your heart leaps anxiously out of your chest and you can feel your breathing quicken? Surprises like these fall into categories for me, good and bad. Birthday parties, good...heart attacks, bad...divorce and infidelity, bad...a financial windfall, good...a promotion, good...death, bad for those of us left; good for those going to be with Jesus. This post today is a surprise to me. I had a whole post already prepared with scriptural reference and a cute story to accompany, however God surprised me and gently led my typing fingers in another direction. I will save the other post for another day.
This year, our family planned to have a "kid party" for our five year old daughter. She had never had a kid party before and her older sister has enjoyed many. When we shared our thoughts with our older daughter, she met our plan with eager anticipation and began making her own contributions to her sister's celebration. We were so impressed with her desire to bless her little sister that we considered having a smaller scale friend gathering for her also, even though it "was not her year". Their birthdays being very close together, we try to be creative about scheduling events for them, especially during the very busy, end-of-school year reverie. So, my husband and I openly planned our younger child's party, but quietly, in the background, planned a surprise for the elder of the two. The day of her big surprise came, and do you know what? This mama was surprised with a sick child, 102 degree temperature and a strep throat! At least she did not know what she was missing! Phone calls to the parents, rescheduling and voila, her surprise was back on...a few weeks later.
The big day came again, things went completely as planned and as her friends jumped out and embraced her in this huge circle of love, our daughter, shocked and confused just stood there, slightly shaking and no real ability to show any reaction. She was truly surprised, and she panicked. What we thought was a great surprise really scared her nine year old system and left her rather numb until after the event had ended. She asked us never to surprise her like that again. Our child was unnerved by the excitement and did not see the value in the surprise factor. Our best intentions played no role in the outcome, however when asked later what she thought, our elder daughter admitted that she was amazed and overwhelmed that we would all strive to surprise her. Despite her dislike for the surprise of it, she was able to grasp the tender love poured out on her in friendship and fellowship.
We got an even bigger surprise when we arrived home and tried to view the video of the big moment. My husband had mistakenly hit the wrong button and there was no footage of what we anticipated at all. Surprise!
In our lives we are forced to deal with surprises all the time. We pray one way and God answers another or we anticipate our plans having priority and then God asks us to do something different. We face these surprises with a gift, though; the assurance that God has no surprises. There is nothing that happens that surprises God, nothing.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord,"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
Just as He knows the grains of sand on the earth and the number of hairs upon our heads, our God knows the plans for our life before we ever opened our eyes or took our first steps. Jeremiah assures us that the Lord wants us to have hope and a grand future in Him.
When surprises litter our path, whether good or bad, it is comforting and reassuring to know that HE has it figured out. We may not know in which way to proceed but He has and will number our steps in accordance to His will. Our job is to listen to Him, follow Him and heed His voice. We seek Him when we diligently read His word, pray and remain still. We can trust Him. It is as simple as that....four words...we can trust Him. No surprise is too big, He knows them all and desperately wants us to trust His heart and His desire to prosper us and give us hope.
Have you ever been really surprised? How did God use that to bless you, change you, prosper you and give you hope? I challenge you today to remember a surprise that God used to show you His plan for His purpose.
WHEN DISAPPOINTMENTS COME...
"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." Proverbs 19:21
"I have to check the calendar." How common a phrase is this? Oh how blessed we are that our calendars overflow with the fruit of family and friendships, activities and events. We make our plans, carefully gliding our Sharpie markers over the white space of our lives, marking the important dates and the times we are to be somewhere special. We build expectations of the revelrie we will share and expectations of how we will handle our own special events. It is those expectations that have the potential to rob us of our joy.
Think back to some of your most critical expectations, perhaps a special friendship, a marriage, a birthday party, your prayer life. In every facet of our lives, we design our expectations and though sometimes, they turn out exactly the way we planned, sometimes God has something different planned. Since I only have one day a week with a significant time frame to clean and prepare, I carefully map out that day with a firm agenda in mind. On one such day, the phone rang, smack in the middle of conquering mount laundry and scrubbing the whitest bathroom in our home. I had a choice to keep to my "firm" agenda or to answer the call that could potentially throw me way off track. Fortunately, the phone call,a wonderful diversion and blessed time of fellowship did not throw me off track, quite the opposite, it energized me and propelled me forward. This was not my expectation, and I was pleasantly surprised. I could have viewed the interruption as a disappointment, instead it was a blessing.
Disappointments happen; not just interruptions or changes in plans...true disappointments. A loved one dies suddenly, a marriage falls apart, children get sick, vacations get cancelled, financial burdens threaten to destroy...real life losses. So, as we seek God's purpose and put aside our own expectations, how do we keep our joy amidst the disappointments? We look to the cross where a curse becomes a blessing. The grace of God abounds even in the difficult times or "disappointing" times. When our eyes are closely fixed on the character of God and His deep desire to provide for us in all circumstances, it lessens the chances of our hearts being bitter or remaining disappointed when our prayers are not answered our way or when our expectations are not met.
Recently, our nine year old daughter became ill just in time for her school's Field Day. She had looked forward to it for weeks and was disappointed that her fever would render her unable to attend. I was surprised at her ability to healthily cope with her sadness. She said she had wanted to play games and be with her friends, but that God had a better plan for her to spend a quiet day alone with her grandmother playing like they did when she was little. She was able to find God's goodness and grace in this situation. When the day was over she rejoiced in all the happy moments. I learned an important lesson from my daughter that day. I spent the day at school lamenting and missing her, I had a certain amount of bitterness welling up within. God quieted me and my disappointment with the joy of a child and her grandmother. Sometimes, it is our job to surrrender our expectations, making room for God's perfect plan, even when it does not match ours.
"See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." Hebrews 12:15
IN HONOR OF THE DADS...
"As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;" Psalm 103:13
I was sixteen or seventeen. Funny, there are some details I can't recall of an evening I vowed I would NEVER, EVER forget. Regardless of my age, it was the events of this timeframe in my life that have stuck with me all these years. The love of my life (as high school romance goes) had broken my heart. His eye was caught by a tall, leggy blond up the street and somehow my petite, raven haired self no longer made his heart go pitter patter. My parents comforted me, turning on every light in the house that late fall night.
Sad and lonely, I would spend my normal date nights at home. My dad and I fell into a routine of watching movies after dinnertime, while my friends continued their date night rituals with their boyfriends. One such night, we rented the movie Ice Castles. A classic, in my opinion, we cried through pretty much the whole movie. Yes, WE cried. My dad, an engineer by trade is a gentle, loving man, who learned very young that his soft spots are very soft, and he has always yielded to the way God has afforded him the beauty of deep emotion. At one point my dad even shared his heartfelt desire to be a pastor...though this never came to fruition, my dad has served in multiple capacities in the church and has always honored my mother and his family in congruence to the scripture. He is a Godly man and I believe this has made an enormous impact in the life of his daughter.
A few weeks later, I sang and played an instrument for the high school Christmas concert. After we played, we were relegated to the audience while other groups had their time on stage. I had seen no program and had not viewed the other groups performances until that evening. The select choir took the stage and I heard the familiar chords of the theme from Ice Castles. I panicked. I knew I would cry the ugly cry if I stayed, so my only option was to exit the auditorium until it was over. I stealthily executed a perfect departure, and somehow even managed to keep my long taffeta skirt quiet as I slipped out the door. As the door slammed shut behind me, I turned to find my dad there just behind the door, his eyes wet with emotion and he admitted he'd never have made it through "that song" and with a wink, he embraced me as only a father can.
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
I have told and re-told this story. I was blessed to have a dad who was there, always there. He travelled weekly for work and yet, I never recall a time he wasn't there. Like my Heavenly Father, my earthly father has always been available. So, I pause and think about the God I love and the man, created in His image who so many times embodied the love that Christ taught him first. I am so thankful my dad has always been an integral participant in my life and not a casual observer.
Like this, the Lord meets us behind the door, in our seat, walking along...everywhere. He delights when we wake in the morning eager for His Word and His gentle embrace. He hears the chords of a familiar song and rushes to us, waiting to lavish us in His love and comfort us, if necessary. Even if our earthly fathers are not able, for whatever reason, to provide love and blessing; our Heavenly Father is! He willingly and openly provides us with our every need. This Father's Day, I celebrate my own dad; a great man. And I celebrate a merciful Father, ready for our undivided attention and willing to give us His undivided attention.
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" 1 John 3:1
Every single day, I am grateful. Grateful for my life, for my family, for the love of a precious savior, but also for my freedom. Were it that I lived elsewhere praising and trusting God may be difficult and even deadly.
We had acquaintences, years ago, who chose to serve God in China. We would send them Bibles and necessities they could not find readily. Our packages had to be sealed a certain way and no where on the parcel could there be words like "God, Lord, Jesus, etc." We could email them and I had to pay careful attention to the words I used, including trying to give scripture without really giving scripture. Though it grieved us at home, we also recognized that God was forging a way and people were being saved because of the blessing of our missionary friends there in Asia. We also were well informed that their safety depended upon our discretion, this my friends, makes me daily aware of our freedom that could easily be overlooked.
When we adopted our daughter in China, I sent a baby book in English and in Mandarin. The nannnies at her orphanage were so gracious to fill in as much as they could for us. I was so thankful. I found myself carefully checking the book to ensure they would not be offended by our faith and our trust in Jesus. After waiting two years for our child, I did not want our adoption stalled because we were Bible believing Christians...but the truth is, I also needed them to know we prayed for them as they cared for our child and so many other children. As He always does, He gave me the words that would be a blessing and not a hindrance.
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Both of these examples lead me to the point of this post.
Freedom...our military...honor and remembrance.
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines...it does not matter the branch of the service, it matters the sacrifice they make so that we are able to worship in our churches, our homes, our cars, our entire lives. Their protection of our freedom is a treasure. As we ponder the freedom we have, I think Memorial Day can be a reminder of the freedom we have in Jesus Christ also. He paid the ultimate price, conquered death and His promise for eternal life to all who believe in Him denotes complete freedom. Like our patriotic freedom, this freedom costs me nothing, but it is not cheaply bought. Just as our soldiers serve to make us free, so did Jesus serve to make me free. For eternal freedom we must be born again, transformed into righteousness by the blood of Jesus Christ, and set free from sin and death. When put in those terms, we would be completely remiss to forget anything that has granted us such magnificent liberties.
So today and everyday, God Bless America! Thank you to Jesus for the ultimate price, thank you to our soldiers and their families for the daily sacrifice that protects and grants us our national freedoms. May they truly know the depth of our gratitude...
"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:2
TOES IN THE SAND
"Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10
It is almost here. SUMMER. I rejoice in the longer days, weeping willows, playgrounds, swimming pools and most of all, toes in the sand! There is something so majestic, so magnificent about the pull of the ocean and the tingle of the sand between our toes.
I took our two young daughters to the beach last week, just for a day. While they loved the rides and boardwalk, they asked repeatedly if they could put those sweet pink toes in the sand. We were able to honor that request. And though the entire day was filled with memorable moments, the most memorable was the sound of my children's laughter as they drew in the sand and stood, wind blowing their hair back breathing in God's creation. The older child drew very clearly a Jesus fish in the sand. The younger dabbled closer to the water's edge and wrote her name in big bold letters in the pale landscape. I watched as the water lapped against her masterpiece, fading it with each small wave. And I prayed that her heart would never allow the tide of the world wipe away the truths that God has hidden in her precious heart. But, I also prayed that like the sand washed clean with the tide, that we would never take for granted how our own sin is wiped away by the grace and mercy of Jesus.
When we approach God with our sin, confessing, repenting, trusting His response, we wipe the sand clean. Miraculous,yes! Deep wounds threaten to shake our resolve, sin breaks our hearts, but an ocean of forgiveness awaits us.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
So, I challenge you today to get toes in the sand, toe to toe with the sea, ready to draw those transgressions on the sand, ready for the well of truth to wash over those transgressions. Accept the smooth sand God wants to provide, accept His perfect love and forgiveness. What a blessing to be toes in the sand!
"So, then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6-7
I was moving very quickly. My husband had arrived home late and I was hosting special guests just two short hours after his arrival. I flew down to the grocery store and know I would have earned a blue ribbon in speed shopping if management were taking into consideration the stealth with which I maneuvered my cart aisle to aisle. Praying the
entire way, I slid expertly into checkout line 7 in record time.
Unloading my cart, I placed on the belt a beautiful strawberry shortcake and a chocolate cream cheese confection that I really just wanted to dive into, scraping off mounds of icing and promptly forgiving myself for being so impulsive. But alas, I left the cakes covered up neatly and stared ahead of me. Tapping my fingers, I was not in the mood for idle chit chat. I had things to do. The line was moving slowly and I found myself looking around, something I might not have done if my pace had been kept, instead of the Lord's.
Though she tried several times, it was several moments before I truly noted the elderly woman behind me, trying to drum up a conversation. She began, "When are you serving the cake?" We giggled together and I explained that I was hosting some incredibly important children...daughters with the same history and similar story as our younger daughter, adopted from China.
I mentioned with great joy how God had blessed our family. Always a risk, entering such a power packed conversation, knowing there was little time, I felt God's gentle spirit leading me to share just a tad bit more with this kindly woman. She came closer to pat my hand several times as I answered her intimate questions there in checkout line 7. She shared a bit herself, praising God for sustaining her life four years ago, even after doctors assured her and her family that she was not long for this world. She praised Him openly, as did I. The bagger watched us intently, trying to understand our relationship and shot questioning glances at the cashier.
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1Peter 3:15
The conversation was warm and enchanting in that short span of time, but it was what came next that completely and totally convinced me this was a post for others to read. Somehow leaving one another felt awkward and wrong. We reached to hug one another and embraced for a few moments, it was probably shorter than it felt. But we were aware of the stares from the checker and bagger who finally inquired out loud if "knew" one another...to which we both answered almost in unison, "we are sisters." She, more mature and having navigated the joys of motherhood and grandmotherhood...I, at the beginning stages, relishing in the joys of each moment. Yet, a common denominator in our thanksgiving for the blessings extended by a great and awesome God.
We were fortunate that no other customers piled into Line 7 for it afforded us extra time to enjoy one another and to make an impact on two young grocery store employees. My packages, bagged and I, not quite in as much a hurry as I'd been, I began out of the store, when she touched my sleeve, just once more, and explained how she volunteers to feed and pray for other elderly folks not as capable as she. She said her dad had given her a gift very young in life. He used to say that a smile makes a difference. She said MY smile made a difference, that she wanted to talk to me because I smiled at her. I am not sure I even remembered I had done so, but she went on to say that each and every patient she encounters,she passes along something her dad gave her...she reached into her purse and handed me a small piece of paper, her last one. But she was willing to pass it along and she asked me to also pass it along. I assured her I would.
"A cheerful look brings joy to the heart..." Proverbs 15:30
The bagger followed me and asked, "So, are you going to pass it along?" More times than he can imagine. The small paper said this,
A smile costs nothing , but gives much. It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever. None is so rich or mighty that he can get along without it, and none is so poor, but that he can be made rich by it. A smile creates happiness in the home, fosters good will in business, and is the countersign of friendship. It brings rest to the weary, cheer to the discouraged, sunshine for the sad and it is natures best antidote for trouble. Yet, it cannot be bought, begged or borrowed; for it is something that is of no value to anyone until it is given away. Some people are too tired or too in a rush to give a smile. Give them one of yours, as none needs a smile so much as he who has none to give.
We know not who we encounter. So often, God asks us to share His Glory, Praise His name and offer Him to those around us. I cannot think of a more beautiful way to share Him than in our smiles. Next time you find yourself in aisle 7, look around...does soemone need your smile?
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will abide in the shadow of the Almighty."
Recently one of my students asked me to play shadow tag with him. He was skipping and jumping, joyful that after many days without sunshine, there was finally light to create shadows. I happily obliged and watched as he giddily searched to hide in shadows, so his shadow could not be seen. There is a true dichotomy to this scenerio.
Generally, we choose not to allow ourselves to be in the shadows. We tolerate it when the Lord places our lives in the shadows, we wait, seeking searching, praying our Christian lives will BE the light. However, when found in someone's shadow, the connotation is that we are overlooked while another gets recognition. We think of shadows being dark places of danger. Trolls, spiders and sorted characters are found lurking in shadows. Psalm 23 speaks to the "valley of the shadow of death". Yet, scripture confirms that we are safe in the shadow of our almighty savior.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings Psalm 17:8
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.Psalm 63:7
In the actions of one little boy, I was reminded of the beauty of the shadow. Thought the shadows can be sad places, they are the places where the Lord does His most magnificent works. He blends seamlessly the darkness of our shadow times with the light of His love to transform lives and give us hope for His glory.
Do not be discouraged by the shadows that creep into our lives. Embrace them and allow the Lord to do His magnificent works. The Lord uses these times to bring vision out of darkness, song out of silence and peace out of suffering. Allow yourself to hide safely in His shadows, that yours may be illuminated by His light.
Tag, you're it!
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
~ Matthew 10:29-31
Spring is such a remarkable time of year. Snow and cold give way to budding, blooming and birdies. The soft, sweet tweets of earth are heard and almost inhaled as our pale selves venture once again into our yards and parks. Children especially value the newness of God's creation as spring bursts forth, running, jumping, playing...reaquainting themselves with oniony grass and daffodils, bikes, bumps and the occasional bruise and the tell-tale call of the ice cream truck.
Both of our daughters LOVE to walk. As the mild temperatures frequent our area and spring coats replace the warm fuzziness of winterwear, they clamor at the door just waiting to explore. When our younger daughter was first talking, she would cry out everytime she saw a bird, pointing and jumping like she were seeing it for the first time everytime. On one particular spring day, she and my mom were spending time together. They happened upon a little tiny bird, which flew away quickly, so quickly my mom was not certain what her little love was saying. Hannah repeated "bird" many times, each time met with my mom's response, "What?" After the fourth attempt, Hannah took my mother's face in her hands and said quite articulately, "TWEET...TWEET...TWEET." No confusing that.
Hannah is adopted. She came to us from Jiangxi province in China. Four years ago this month, God performed a miracle when He built another family His way. We cherish they way Hannah came to us, but have often been saddened knowing there was time in her life where we were not with her. In my design, this never would have happened, but in God's design, it is simply the way it is. Hannah spoke English quickly and though her words were tough to discern at times, she has always been incredibly clear about how very much her little mind absorbs. Her first and favorite song was, "His Eye is on the Sparrow". She'd sing with great abandon, particularly pausing at certain points to place inflection where she felt the need to be heard.
Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for Heav'n and home,
When Jesus is my portion?
A constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches over me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.
I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me (He watches me)
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches (I know he watches)
(I know he watches me)
I sing because I'm happy,
I sing because I'm free,
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me (He watches me)
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches me (He watches me)
He watches me (I know he watches me) Civilla D. Martin and Charles H. Gabriel
(She does not always sing verse 2 and 3)
She sang the words so frequently, I asked her one night why she likes this song so much.
Her very simple response, "I am His sparrow."
I am not certain she understands the depth of her words or the breadth of His love. I do find it comforting that in the days and months before she was placed in our arms that her Heavenly Father watched over her, kept her safe and she knows that!
We are each His sparrows. We are never out of His vision. I am awestruck by a gracious and loving God who knows even the number of hairs on my head. I am a worrier and God has reminded me consistently of His careful consideration of me. Hannah, at the tender age of 3, ministered to my heart with her assured conviction of her savior's constant glances and unfailing love. The sparrows are worthy and considered, we are more so.
Sparrows... insignificant were these little birds that if you bought four sparrows the seller would throw in one more for free. And the extra sparrow, Jesus said, "and not one of them is forgotten before God." (Luke 12:6-7) He cares so much ... it is surreal that even this extra sparrow is noted and observed by God! How praiseworthy it is that we are far more precious to God than all the sparrows combined.
Today, I am thankful for a little round-faced baby who IS one of His sparrows and for a gracious Saviour who does not become weary, but keeps His eyes firmly adhered to all of His sparrows.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
I long, yes, I faint with longing to enter the courts of the Lord.
With my whole being, body and soul,I will shout joyfully to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young
at a place near your altar, O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God!
~ Psalm 83:1-3
It's in the Translation
"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."
Our generation should be some of the best communicators, constantly plugged in and forever clicking away on blackberries and mini laptops. I must admit though, with all of this technology and immediate gratification, some things may be getting lost in the translation. Just maybe, I think, it may have been our parents' generation that had better information sharing methods. My parents have always had a pretty consistent manner of communicating with one another. There were many years my father travelled extensively for work and they had to have a system. However, it is important to note, when my father was very young and in the service, he worked on airplanes. Very NOISY airplanes. So, he is virtually deaf in one ear. Now, I am no expert, but I would venture a guess that the other ear is not so great either :) This little tidbit has wreaked havoc on my dear dad for years.
Many things have been lost in the translation with my dad, orders in restaurants, questions from his students, the grandchildren speaking to him. But, make no mistake, my father is a good willed and fine man. He has more integrity in his little toe than most men acquire in a lifetime. As far as his faith and his ability to share his love with us, that is certainly not an issue. But, the following encounter has rendered our family hysterical numerous times over the years.
I was in college at the time. I still lived at home. My mother worked at a local department store and my father picked her up after her shift on the weekends. That Saturday night, my dad asked if I wanted to ride over with him. It was very late and my mother got into the car.
She innocently asked him a simple question,
"Did you kill the wasps?"
(A wasp's nest was overtaking a tree in our side yard) to which he replied,
"Yes, yes, I did a load of white."
My mother chuckled.
She clarified for him, "No, no not the wash, the bugs, did you get the bugs?" Still, the ears were not with him,
"Rugs, why would I wash the rugs?"
We laughed until we cried. I know it is one of those moments you had to have been there to understand, however almost twenty years and a hearing aid later, we still have those moments.
Consequently, my dad had sprayed the wasp's nest, in addition to the other tasks he performed that day. But, I always find it noteworthy it takes so little to misunderstand the intentions of those around us. Dr. Eggerichs (of Love & Respect fame) pointed out in a marriage encounter my husband and I attended, that people are generally good-willed, most of those around us are good willed people. My father was certainly good-willed that day, however, it was his ears that failed him.
So, how often is our translation of a conversation vastly different than how the other person meant it? It amazes me how one single glance can speak volumes, while a fifteen minute dissertation to my children on loving one another can result in two defiant mini-me's casting blame from themselves and to each other, just wanting to "win". After all, they are incredibly good willed people, right? Right.
Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Psalms 119:89
So, though our earthly selves may daily struggle with interpretations of our interactions with others, there is something in our Christian walk that is unchanging. Regardless of the version of Bible we choose to use for our quiet time, the message is the same. It is stable, viable and steady.
As I deeper study the Bible, I am fascinated by the translations of the written word of God. There may be many; however, it becomes abundantly clear that there is very little wiggle room in translating the hard and fast facts presented in Word of God. We attend Bible studies and many times we take away different things, perhaps it meets us where we are in that moment. We go to church and as the Pastor breaks down the Word, verse for verse, we nod and praise the God that so clearly and carefully spelled out every single thing we need to know in one perfect handbook. We humble ourselves in prayer, meditating on the truth that comes only in verses encapsulated in our Holy Bibles.
Where is your Bible? Good willed as each of us may be, our walk will falter if we are not daily seeking, noses in our Bibles, putting to action the commands and truth as only articulated in the great Word of God. Some translations may not be as reliable as others, but we are called to study, seek and press onward in His Word.
Praises, moments of great joy, hardened hearts, anger, bitterness, laws, promises...they are all there, the answers within. If you have been away from your Bible, the Lord will rejoice at your return to His Word.
"I am the Lord, and I do not change." Malachi 3:6
It is that simple, no translation needed.