Sunday, August 12, 2018

Just Follow Jesus~



Some of you may recognize this photo.

It is the cover of my new book, IF ONLY I COULD.

It is also the exact spot
where my husband and I were married.

It's precious, indeed.

Each year on our anniversary,
we always returned to this spot
and renewed our vows
to each other
and to the Lord.

The last two years,
I've returned to this spot alone.

Last year,
I went to thank God -
on behalf of my man and myself -
for seeing us through our vows
until "death do you part".
Any one married knows
it is only by God's grace
that this is even possible.

This year,
last Tuesday as a matter of fact,
I returned again.

Knowing this book
was on the horizon,
knowing God
was doing a new thing,
I prayed for
unwavering faith and Godly courage
to walk this new walk,
now as a "me"
instead of a "we".

And while I still don't know
where I'm headed
or in which direction
I'm going,
I'm ok with that.

All I need to do
is follow Jesus.
If I do that,
I will be right where
I need to be.

It's the same for you.

Just follow Jesus.

Always and in all ways.~

For information about my book (which at the time of this post is ranked #1 in NEW releases in  "Christian Death and Grief" - thank you, Jesus!) or to purchase a copy - simply follow this link. 
Knowing many of you live outside of the United States, "If Only I Could" ,
is also available for purchase on Amazon's Europeans websites
including Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de. Amazon.fr, Amazon.it, and Amazon.es.


IF ONLY I COULD



Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Becoming One Again~

“You know what it is?”
I ask out loud to a living room of one.
“It’s the whole 'two are better than one' principle.
That’s exactly what it is.”

(And, admittedly,
talking out loud to myself,
is part of what it is, too.)

Two are better than one, 
because they have a good return for their labor: 
If either of them falls down, 
one can help the other up. 
But pity anyone who falls 
and has no one to help them up. 
Also, if two lie down together, 
they will keep warm. 
But how can one keep warm alone? 
Though one may be overpowered, 
two can defend themselves. 
~Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

One too many ice cream shakes.

Far too many sleepless nights.

Harder falls with even harder pick-me-back-ups.

Too much taking myself seriously
and not enough of you
to put my eyes back on God.

“Yes, this is what it is, Handsome.”

Marriage isn’t easy,
make no mistake about that.

Two lives,
two minds,
two hearts,
two dreams,
two opinions,
two “know it alls”
trying to mesh into one.

No wonder marriage is for life –
without a doubt,
it takes a lifetime
for the “two to become one”.

It takes a whole lot of dancing
to learn the steps
and to finally enjoy
waltzing through life.

But, what happens
when death cuts in
(unwelcome, uninvited, unplanned)
and leaves you dancing
on the dance floor
alone?

What happens
when one of the two
who have become one,
is now
one again?

Yes, two people becoming one flesh is hard.

The only thing harder:
Becoming one again
after having been joined as two.

Yes, I have family.
And, yes, I have friends.
And, yes, Handsome –
everyone has gone above and beyond
to encourage,
to comfort,
to support,
to be there for me.

But the thing is this:
No one knows me like you do.

No one understands my hopes
and is aware of my fears.

No one can predict
how I will react
before I react.

No one can hear
what my eyes
are saying.

No one can
talk me down,
talk me up,
balance me out
and keep me grounded
like you.

No one knows our history.

No one can sight
a leading of God in the past
to encourage me
to step out into the future.

No one can quote a scripture
with a memory
connected to it.

No one can
rekindle my faith,
reboot my courage,
re-ignite my passion
like you.

Except God.

And, of course,
God is always the exception
who is exceptional
at all of this and so much more.

But, I miss
the second best part of me, –
the part that was second best
to the best part of me,
God.

I miss my dancing partner.

I miss your words
and your humor.

I miss your look
and your hand in mine.

I miss your zeal
and your enthusiasm.

I miss your honesty
and your spontaneity.

I miss your hugs
and you wrapping me
in prayer each morning
and each night.

“The hardest part for me
was feeling like part of me
was missing.
Because, it was.”

My mom told me these words
a couple of days
after you were gone.

Kneeling on the floor in the hallway,
outside the bathroom door
where you took your last breath,
sobbing uncontrollably
and wanting nothing more
than you back,
she –
having walked this walk before me –
walked over to me
and said those words.

A couple of months later,
one night while talking with her
on the phone,
she said them again.

No wonder I feel so lost.

No wonder I feel so empty.

No wonder I feel so “not like me” anymore.

“Yes, that’s what it is”
I say out loud
to a living room of one.
“It’s the whole 'two are better than one' principle.
That’s exactly what it is.”

While the missing you is hard,
and while the trying
to become one “me” again
after years of becoming one “us”
is pulling me apart,
I lift my hands to Heaven
and thank God
for the better
I had with you.

A beautiful better.

A better beyond
what I could have ever
hoped better to be.

A better
I would choose to do with you
over and over and over again,
if only I could.

If only I could . . .



( August 7, today, our anniversary
and this - another excerpt from my book,
“If Only I Could”, releasing soon. )


 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Resting on The Rock~

When you find yourself in a place where
there are no clear answers,
no defined roadmarks,
no easy choices, -
it's easy to feel as though you are
lost in a sea of confusion,
pointlessly drifting along,
aimlessly treading water
just to keep breathing and stay afloat, -
with no progress and
with no end in sight.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed.

And yet,
there is an Anchor for our soul.

There is a place where we can
rise above the circumstances,
rest on a firm foundation,
and see our situation
from a higher vantage point.

The Rock, Christ Jesus.

This is the cry of my heart today
(and everyday):

From the end of the earth
I will cry to You,
when my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I.

There,
we will find all we need.





Wednesday, July 25, 2018

If Only I Could~

As soon 
as I step out the front door, 
I see it.

Big, bold, beautiful.


The first bloom on our hibiscus.
As soon as I see it,
I whirl around and head
straight for the front door,
straight back inside to tell you.

Only, as soon as my hand grasps
the cold metal of the doorknob,
my heart grasps the cold, hard reality
of your absence
once more.
Tears spill down my cheeks
and drop onto the welcome mat.
And, the longing of my heart
spills out into words
that aren't merely running through my mind,
but are tumbling out my mouth.

Out loud.
For anyone and everyone to hear.
"If only I could tell you!
If only I could run inside,
grab your hand,
and lead you outside
to see this beautiful bloom!
If only I could . . ."
Tears take over
and all I can do,
despite all I wish I could do,
is cry.
Looking down at the welcome mat,
this new place I find myself,
here without you,
feels anything but welcome.
And, if truth be told,
without you
sharing our address,
sharing our kitchen,
sharing our conversation,
sharing our prayers,
sharing our bed,
and sharing "us",
I no longer feel welcome here either.
It's as all that once was,
no longer is.
Everything is new.

Only none of the new
I am experiencing
is welcome here, either.

None of it.

Except, maybe,
the beautiful bloom on our hibiscus.
IMG_7009
I  still remember the day
you bought it for me.

That day,
knowing how much I love
these big, bold, beautiful blooms,
you were the one heading
straight for the front door,
straight inside
to grab my hand
and lead me out
to see the new "beautiful"
you had bought for me.
"Look, Beautiful!
Just for you!
And, look how beautiful!
Just like you!"
I loved it.
And, I loved you all the more
because of it.
As I stand in the doorway,
half way in and half way out,
I realize I have a choice to make.
I can let this moment
steal the beauty
of what now is
by longing
for what used to be,
or I can let this moment
stir up thanksgiving
for the beauty
you have left behind.

I can choose
to stay in the past
or
I can choose
to step into the future.
As new tears
slowly make their way
down my cheek,
landing once again
on the welcome mat,
I choose to welcome
this new bloom,
this new beginning,
this new moment into my life.
"Thank you, Handsome.
Thank you, that even now,  you are
still making my heart smile,
still starting my day in a beautiful way,
still reminding me of your love,
still leading me out to see
the beautiful new thing
God is doing
here
in this new place."
If only I could tell you.  If only I could . . .

For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun.
Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway 
through the wilderness.
I will create rivers
in the dry wasteland.
~Isaiah 43:19

(Sharing with you today, the first reflection in my new book, "If Only I Could".  Coming soon!)



Monday, July 23, 2018

The Want To~

His answer was simple enough.
Or, was it?

Driving home from work,
I hit the scan button on my radio.
A few short seconds later
I found myself listening to NPR
(not my usual choice, by the way)
and eavesdropping on a conversation
between two gentlemen.

I had landed on this station
just in time
to hear the host of this radio show
ask the following question:

"So what kind of qualifications
does one need
in order to succeed
in your line of work?"

The man being interviewed
simply responded,
"the want to".

I was hooked.
I quickly reached for the scan button again.
They had my complete attention.

The interview continued
and so did my curiosity.
As I listened,
I speculated about what occupation
they might be referring to.
Imagine my surprise
when I finally figured out
what this man did for a living.

Any guesses?

According to this gentleman,
if you have the "want to",
you, too, can become a.........
drum roll, please...........
professional rodeo clown!

I had to smile.

Of all the occupations
that had popped into my mind,
I have to admit
professional rodeo clown
was not one of them.

But then,
it all started to come into focus.
Having the "want to"
made perfect sense.

I have a feeling
if this radio host
had been interviewing
any one of the twelve disciples,
they too,
may have responded
with the exact same answer.

Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, "Come with me. I'll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass." They didn't ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed. Matthew 4:18-20, The Message

Were any of these men qualified
to be a disciple of the Most High God?

What did they themselves
even know about God?

How could they possible
lead others to God?

And yet,
Jesus called them into service
and they took Him up
on His invitation.

They had the "want to"
and that was all they needed.

What about you?

What about me?

Over my lifetime,
I have passed up many
God-given invitations
simply because I felt I was unqualified.

I have a feeling you have, too.

Like me,
you have probably
heard the voice of Jesus
calling you to follow Him
into a new place,
a new career,
a new direction,
a new life and yet,
you opted to stay put,
right where you were.

You may still be in this same
seemingly "safe" spot
today.

The disciples could easily
have talked themselves out of
this new calling.

After all, they each already
had an occupation.
They were each already
knee-deep in their livelihood.

Peter and Andrew knew how to fish
and they were good at it.
Matthew not only knew how to collect taxes
for the government,
but for his own pocket, as well.

These men weren't listening
for the knock of opportunity.
They weren't looking
to "find themselves".

They weren't looking for God.

Yet, when the knock came
and the door to a new life in Christ
was opened before them,
they took the leap of faith
and jumped in
with both feet.

They were caught....hook, line and sinker.

Why?
Because they were qualified?
No.
Simply because they had the want to.

The Jesus
who gave these fishermen
the invitation of a lifetime
is the same Jesus
who calls out to you today.

He is still looking for people;
people who are willing to follow,
people who have "the want to".

When Jesus calls you,
He is not looking at your qualifications.
The one who created you
knows better than you
what you were created to do.
The one who formed you
in your mother's womb
knows better than you
that for which you were formed. 

And He's calling you to follow.......

Will you?

All you need to have is the "want to".




Saturday, July 14, 2018

Holy Ground~

That the Holy One
would bend His ear
to listen -

That the Holy One
would draw close
each time
we draw near -

That the Holy One
would dare
to love us
and keep on loving us
and to
graciously indwell us -

This place of meeting
can be nothing less
than
Holy Ground.








Sunday, July 8, 2018

I'm So Glad I Asked~

"How, Lord?
How does that happen?"

My questioning heart
didn't even realize it had
spoken these words out loud
until the rest of me
heard myself hearing them -
out loud.

And, as He is always faithful to do,
God answered back.

Only His answer,
as it so often is,
was simply a prodding of my heart
to dig in deeper.
To pray for the Holy Spirit
to illuminate my mind
and then to mine this verse
that had prompted the question
like a jewel hunter
mines a field for diamonds.

But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
~Isaiah 40:31

I knew this verse.
I had read it time and time again.
I could probably even do a fairly good job
of quoting it back to you
without even looking.
But, living it -
nope.

But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength.

To me,
up until now,
waiting had been the opposite -
more exhausting,
than renewing.
There was a certain tension
that came with waiting
and to be honest,
it usually left me feeling drained.

This time,
as I read this old familiar verse -
I realized I had yet
to truly grasp the meaning
or live it out in my life.

And,
that's when
my heart blurted out
what it was thinking:
"How, Lord?
How does that happen?"

And,
that's when
my God led me to this amazing,
life-changing,
faith-infusing,
strength-renewing
discovery-
better than all the diamonds in the world.

The word wait
used in this verse
is the Hebrew word קָוָה (qavah).

It has two meanings -
one figurative and one literal.

The meaning I was most familiar with
was the figurative one:
to wait, to expect, to hope in, in anticipation.

It was the literal meaning of this word
that opened the eyes of my heart
and unlocked the true meaning of this verse:
to bind together like a cord

(Honestly,
have you ever thought
of the word "wait"
as meaning "to bind together like a cord"?
What a thought.
Go ahead -
feel free to take a few minutes
to let that sink in.)

To bind together like a cord.

Dictionary.com  defines a cord as:
a string or thin rope made of several strands braided, twisted, or woven together

A cord isn't made of one thread,
but several.

In fact,
if you think about it
(which God definitely had me doing,
and now,
hopefully you are, too!)
the very strength of the cord
lies in the fact
that it is not a single unit,
but is instead made up of several -
all braided, twisted, and woven together.

So - back to this amazing verse,
the question that started this search,
and you and me.

But those who wait on the Lord
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.

"How, Lord?
How does that happen?"

(And I almost feel a little hesitant
to share with you
what God shared with me
because I have a feeling -
knowing our God the way I do -
He has already begun
opening the eyes of your heart
to see the treasure He has for you
tucked into this familiar text.
Isn't His Spirit such a precious teacher?!)

If I am to truly wait on the Lord -
it is more
(so much more)
than me
looking forward to,
hoping in,
anticipating
what God is and has yet to do -
it is also
(and here's where
the strength part comes in)
me binding
myself,
my thoughts,
my actions,
my reactions,
my prayers,
my desires,
my very will,
together with that of my God.

To wait on the Lord
is to intertwine me -
every part of me,
with Him.

And, as I do -
my strength is renewed.

As I do,
I am no longer
a lone, thin, single string -
I become part of a strong cord.
(Is anything stronger than God?!)

"How, Lord?
How does that happen?"

Naturally,
if we wait on the Lord
we will mount up with wings like eagles,
we will run and not be weary,
we will walk and not faint.
because His supernatural power,
braided and twisted and woven together
with ours,
will make it happen.

Naturally,
if we wait on the Lord
our strength will be nenewed
because His supernatural strength, -
braided and twisted and woven together
with ours,
will make it happen.

His strength
becomes mine
because I
become part of Him.

WOW!

(I know -
at the beginning of this post
I should have subtly mentioned
you might want to be sitting down
while reading this.)

And,
as is usually the case,
my mind
couldn't have been more grateful
my heart
had the "need to know"
and the courage to ask the question.

And,
as is always the case,
my heart
couldn't have been more grateful
my God
is always faithful to answer.