Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tearstained Shoes

While cleaning out my closet, I raked out a pair of black shoes and  examined the soles--too worn to be given to charity, I wondered, could I actually throw them away?

You see, those shoes represented a touch point for a favorite devotion of mine that I wrote, which first appeared in the Upper Room Magazine.



 I went to my computer and hunted down that meditation, deciding to share it with all of you, today. It references Psalm 56:8, “Record my lament; list my tears on you scroll—are they not in your record?”

“I’m in a group that volunteers to work with inmates in a maximum security prison for women. One of the rules we’re constantly reminded of is this: Don’t take anything in the prison; don’t take anything out of the prison. We are not allowed to give the women a piece of gum, a pen, or even a note. They are not permitted to send anything outside the prison with us. 

Every time we visit the prison, we spend a few minutes with the women who desire our prayers. We hold their hands and pray for them individually. Many of the women cry. A couple of months ago, during the prayer time, I happened to open my eyes and looked down at my shoes. The toes of my shoes were dotted with the tears of the women for whom I had prayed. When I left that evening, I did take something with me:  tearstains.

God has made a record of our tears and is touched by them. In the same way, every time I wear my tearstained shoes I am reminded to pray for the women who are incarcerated, asking for healing that comes from God.”

 So, I have to tell you, I put the shoes back, deciding I couldn’t part with them. Not now, anyway.
 
Friends, if your heart is especially hurting today, remember that God knows and cares about your tears. Every single one.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

If you're looking for a friend for every circumstance


I waited in the car late one afternoon with the windows rolled down while my husband ran back in the house to pick up something he’d forgotten. Then I heard it, the distinctive Hoo, hoo-oo, hoo, hoo. I grabbed my phone, did a little research and confirmed what I was hearing―a Great Horned Owl.
 

Photo Courtesy Alan D. Wilson Creative Commons Share Alike Attribution 3.0 License

When I have an experience like this, I want to tell someone. However, I don’t have a long list of friends who really care about this sort of thing. My friend Jim used to, but he passed some years ago. My dad always loved to hear about it, but he’s gone. My wildlife biologist son cares, but he was at work. Then it came to me, I’d tell Kevin, a definite wildlife aficionado. I hoped to see him later at church.

Often when I’m working on a painting, I get to a point when I don’t know whether the next brush stroke will be one too many, so I call Lilyan, an artist, friend, and neighbor. She runs over and gives me a little advice. Or if my creative daughter is in town, she’s always good for insight on artistic endeavors.

When I need writing encouragement, I have a group of writers I meet with on a regular basis who keep me on the right road. I hope I do the same for them.

However, I wouldn’t call my writer friends with a wildlife sighting or ask them about a painting problem.

I turn to different friends with different situations.

However, isn’t it a relief to know that we have one friend who knows about everything? And cares about everything? And has wisdom on everything?

His name is Jesus, and he said these words in John 15, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. . . I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

In this glorious Easter season, we remember again that Jesus laid down his life for us, his friends. This One whom we can turn to with any problem, any joy, is our Friend.

Many of us remember this wonderful hymn which goes, “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear; What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!”

The key word being “everything.” No hunting around for just the right friend, because Jesus is the right friend for every circumstance.

Makes me want to hoot a little myself.

Listen to a Great Horned Owl HERE at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Scroll down and hit the Typical Voice arrow. If you don't know about this site, and care about such things, it's a treasure trove of information on every kind of bird imaginable.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Holy Week and what can't be taken away


I cracked open my journal yesterday morning and reread prayer cards I made when I participated in a study a couple of years ago on Ephesians 6 , The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer.

A quote I copied from Priscilla leapt off the page. “No matter what your present circumstances or past entails, none of the ailments of life can take away what the cross has given you.”

I paused a moment pondering again that truth during this Holy Week.
 

 






Now we have some ailments going on over here at our house with replaced knees, broken arms, and other aching parts. However, what Priscilla says is none of that takes away from what Jesus did for us. His strong, powerful, and mighty work is still in place.

A good thought when you’re feeling especially fragile and vulnerable.

Holy Week calls us to reflect, to ponder the work of Christ on our behalf. “But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. . . ” (Isaiah 53:4 The Message).

ALL the things wrong with us, not some, not a few, but ALL.

We can reframe a sense of weakness in these words, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) and in our fragility embrace, “. . . that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself” (Romans 8:11 The Message).

We can allow God to take any sense of despair, and filter it through, “Christ in you the hope of Glory.”

So, no matter what’s broken down, battered, torn up, and decrepit, what Jesus has already done for us on the cross still stands. We have all that resurrection power in us to buoy us up in the face of any present trouble.

No “ailments” can take it away from any of us. I'm underlining this in my journal. Twice.

Dear friends, have a blessed Holy Week and Easter. May His presence be especially real to you during this Holy season.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A broken arm, true colors, and joy


“It’s almost funny,” I told my daughter.

“Not quite,’ she said somberly.

Four weeks after Jerry’s knee replacement, the day he drove for the first time last week, I took a spill.

Broken arm, stitches on head, and most likely headed for surgery to stabilize elbow. However, a big but here, I have no brain injury. A concern after becoming tangled in wires I didn’t see at a local restaurant and hitting my head on the concrete curb.

Let me repeat, no head injury besides the stitches. So thankful.

Poor Jerry barely able to walk himself is now caring for me.

We’re kind of messes.

Typing with one finger so I’ll get to the point.

I believe God will use these troubles for good. Somehow. Some way.

i'm so very close to getting another book finished and working on a proposal to take to a conference in May so I can pitch the book. Now this. Me and my one finger. Pity party threatens.

I don’t get it, but I know God does.

 I read these timely words in Streams in the Desert this morning, “. . .  we are to believe that out of this is coming something more for His praise than could have come but for this fiery trial.” and  “. . .  there is a power that can make us victors in the strife. There are heights to be reached where we can look down and over the way we have come, and sing our song of triumph on this side of Heaven.”

So, despite these circumstances, I aim to put on the garment of praise. James said, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors” (James 1:2-4 The Message).

I want my true colors to point to Jesus. Always.

So friends, maybe, you too are in your own version of trial today, let’s press in together to His presence and power and sing that song of triumph.

So, maybe it’s not funny, but we can still have joy.
 
p.s. After I wrote this post yesterday, I received a call from my doctor and the verdict is in . . . no surgery on the arm. Yeah!

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