Saturday, February 28, 2009

Through Isaac's Eyes

"The anchor holds - though the ship is battered.
The anchor holds - though the sails are torn . . .
The anchor holds - in spite of the storm."

Children are listening - even when we think they aren't. On one of the rare occasions that grandchildren Isaac, Emily and Abby have worshipped with us, I gave Isaac a pen and some note paper. During the service, George sang my favorite song, The Anchor Holds. I was not aware of what Isaac was writing, but I was focusing on the words that have meant so much to me during the storms of my life. After George had finished the song and sat down, Isaac handed me the piece of paper you see in the above photo. He was listening and through his seven-year-old eyes (pictured below), saw and drew the anchor. Today I have a copy of his drawing framed and hanging in our bedroom - a constant reminder that I've anchored in Jesus. The storms of life I'll brave . . .

Aunt Lizzie Belle's Daffodil

". . . walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?"
Matthew 6:28-30 The Message
"He loves me; He loves me. He loves me; this I know . . . "

It's Just That Simple!

I am often amazed at the wisdom of young children. Many times they, in their simple faith, have less difficulty in seeing the "big picture" of life and setting priorities than we adults. I was reminded of this fact again this week during a visit with our six-year-old grandson. When asked, "Do you like . . . (and Poppa named some things) . . . without any prompting he replied, "I like God . . . and Jesus . . . and my family . . . and my friends." Just that simple!

Now that will warm a grandparent's heart! He gets it! Sadly, for many older folks, priorities are not that simply defined, and when life get's complicated - and it often does - chaos fills the heart and mind. It's only when we remember Who is "first" in life that He can help us fit all the other pieces of life together.

Thanks, Aiden, and I pray that you never edit your list!

Thank God for kids . . .

Do you ever stop to think or wonder why
The nearest thing to Heaven is a child?
When you get down on your knees tonight
To thank the Lord for his guiding light
And pray they turn out right,
Thank God for kids.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spring Planting

"Plow your unplowed fields, but then don't plant weeds in the soil."
Jeremiah 4:3 The Message

Sowing in the morning, sowing seeds of kindness . . .

Monday, February 23, 2009

On the Road . . . Again

Someone has said: Jesus' home was the road along which He walked with His friends in search of new friends. I think He still travels the roads of each of our lives - and He never walks too fast nor lags behind us.

Sometimes we walk alongside Him, talking to Him, learning from Him.

Sometimes we stop to rest, gaining new strength and getting refueled for the journey ahead.

Oftentimes, if we are sensitive to His voice, He asks us to sit down for a lesson, maybe even a much-needed correction. At those times I'm tempted to just keep walking! But when I choose not to stop and listen - and obey, I always run into trouble somewhere down the road.

At other times we walk slowly - enjoying the scenery and most of all, His presence. We stop and smell the roses, listen to the birds sing, and bask in the Light of His love.

Now and then, He says to us, "Hurry! Run! Someone down the road needs your help - now!" And He's there to run alongside us.

As we travel, our eyes sometimes get full of dust from the road, and so we must stop long enough for Him to touch our eyes. Then we can focus more clearly on Him and on those who are off the road - those who have lost their way and have decided to call it quits.

How many times have we needed Him to touch our hearts so that we want to reach out to those who live on the wrong side of the road and whose lifestyles are so very different from ours? He always has time to take what's wrong and make it right - if we ask.

And He always - always - says: "Bring a friend . . . and another . . . and another. . ."

Jesus will walk with me. He will talk with me; He will walk with me. In joy or in sorrow, today and tomorrow, I know He will walk with me.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Needin' a Makeover?

Makeovers - extreme makeovers - seem to be the rage! Bodies, homes, outdoor spaces, and offices can all be beautifully transformed. Even out-of-control children can be wonderfully changed when Supernanny comes to visit! And to be fair, many of the makeovers that we see on television are needed and are a blessing. But all of these transformations basically deal with externals and have no eternal value. I'm so glad that I know the One who deals in extreme makeovers that begin inside a person, making us ready for that ultimate makeover that will never need any touch-ups!

Who else but the Potter can remold us "earthen jars" - or cracked pots - into beautiful vessels that He can fill and use? Who else but our Heavenly Father can transform a stony heart into one that is pliable in His hands - or make a sinful heart white as snow? Know anyone else who can set captives free from guilt, addictions, and the past? And when Jesus shows up, darkness becomes light and mourning turns to joy! He trades our weaknesses for His strength and exchanges our timidity for boldness. Without exception, a touch from the Master's hand brings hope. Now that's an extreme makeover and is available to anyone who sincerely asks! No one is beyond His transforming love.

No matter how mature we may think we are as Christians, we should continually pray: Make me over in Your likeness. You are the Potter; I am the clay. One day, maybe not too far in the future, we who have been changed by His grace will experience a makeover that we can't begin to imagine. We shall all be changed . . . (I Cor.15:52).

O, to be like Thee; O, to be like Thee. Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art . . . Stamp Thine own image deep in my heart.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Life

This is My Father's world . . .

"To Everything There Is a Season . . . "

Great is Thy faithfulness; great is Thy faithfulness . . .

Early Morning Visitor

Just suppose that as you sit and drink your first cup of coffee early in the morning, you hear a gentle knock at your door. You go to the door and peek out, but daylight is just beginning to break, so you can’t immediately identify the person standing just outside the door. You open the door a little wider and focus your sleepy eyes more closely on the early morning visitor.

As you take a step out the door, suddenly you know – it’s Jesus!! Of course, you invite Him in and offer Him your most comfortable chair. You feel the need to make excuses for your disheveled hair and your ungroomed appearance. He says that doesn’t matter; He remembers how it felt to wake up here on earth for most of the thirty-three years He lived here. With a far away look in His eyes, He reminds you that He often had no place to lay His head, and more times than not, He went to sleep bone-tired from the day’s ministry.

Taken aback and remembering your manners, you offer Him a cup of steaming hot coffee, but He says, “No, I’m here to offer you an invitation - an invitation that can change your life and the lives of those in your corner of the world. I invite you to go on a mission trip with me today, to touch as many hurting people as possible.”

You feel so honored that Jesus chose to visit you and wants your company, so you quickly respond, “Oh, yes, Jesus, I’ll do whatever you ask!”

But then you suddenly remember your job and say, “Oh, wait, Jesus! I have to go to work today! With the economy the way it is, I can’t just take off!”

Laying His hand on your shoulder, He gently replies, “I know, my child. I know all about you, every detail of your life. I never ask more of you than you can give. But down at the office, (or the mill or the school or the bank or . . . ), there are hurting people. I’ll point them out to you. And remember, I’m going with you, so you don’t have to be afraid.”

At this point others of us would say, “Oh, yes, Jesus, you know I want to reach out to needy people, but I don’t see many people during the day. I stay at home and take care of my family. Oh, I read the Bible and I pray more than I ever did. I faithfully prepare to teach my Sunday School class on Sunday – and I sing in the choir. But I really don’t know who I could help today. Besides, I have so many problems of my own, how can I help anyone else?”

With a smile He lovingly answers, “I know all about you, too. You are where I have placed you at this point in your life. And you don’t have to ‘have it all together’ as you say. But there’s so much folks like you can do. Don’t ever stop praying and studying and teaching My Word, but what is that in your hand? I know you can bake cakes and pies - or cookies or bread. I know you can write encouraging notes or pick up the phone and call someone. You can offer the elderly lady down the road a ride to the grocery store. Not too far from here, someone is dying, spiritually that is, for someone to tell them about Me. Would you let them know that I show up on their doorsteps every morning, too? You don’t know where to start? I see the questions, even the fear, in your eyes. I’ll supply the names and the courage, and remember: "I’ll be with you. You don’t need to be afraid.”

He stands and beckons for you to come. It’s then you see the nail prints and remember why they are there. . . .

And the truth is: that is what happens at our heart’s door every morning. Do I even hear the knock? Do I recognize it’s Jesus and let Him in? Do I listen to Him? More importantly, do I obey Him?

I'll say, yes, Lord, yes, to your will and to your way . . .

Pity Party

I’m having a pity party -
Just me, myself, and I.
We’ll rehash all the hurts and pains,
Each punctuated by “Why?”

What, Lord? Are you invited?
Did my invitations include Your name?
No, Lord, I didn’t include You;
The party wouldn’t be the same.

For if I took just one look
At the nail prints in Your hands,
I’d be reminded of what You endured
And forget my party plans.

And then I’d look into Your loving eyes
And know that You suffered for me.
I’d know that it’s Your power I need –
Not pity – to set me free.

On second thought, Lord,
Would you come in and take a chair?
Forgive me of my selfish plans,
And lift me from the pit of care.

I’ll get out my very best cup, Lord,
And ask You to fill it to overflow -
With Your power, Your Spirit, Your grace -
Then I’ll drink and in Your strength go.

Fill my cup, Lord, I lift it up, Lord . . .

A Beautiful Life: A Tribute to My Aunt Ollie

My dear sweet Aunt Ollie! I think God must have had an awfully good time creating a blueprint for her life and then molding her into the beautiful lady she was. I can picture Him smiling at his handiwork and thinking, "Well done!" I'm sure it wasn't hard for Him to shape Aunt Ollie's life because she never seemed to have gotten too far from His touch. And it showed in her sweet smile, her forgiving attitude, and her simple lifestyle. You could hear it in her kind words, her soft chuckle and in her clear, ringing voice as she led singing in the little church she loved, Good Hope Baptist. You could see it in the work of her hands - especially her beautiful quilts and her flowers that seemed to fill her yard. I even remember tasting the work of her kind hands at those Sunday dinners at her house.

Some Sundays long ago, Mama would decide we were going to Good Hope. Now, Aunt Ollie never knew ahead of time we were coming. But after services, often led by Aunt Ollie, we went to her house for dinner. Never once did she seem flustered that she had five extra, unexpected people to feed! Instead, she'd get down her biscuit-making bowl, which always intrigued me, and make us delicious biscuits to go with the rest of the meal she served - undoubtedly, most of it from jars of canned vegetables and fruit. While she was cooking and visiting with Mama - and Uncle Bryant and Daddy talked by the fireplace - it was an adventure for me to "roam" through her log-constructed house. Ah, what wonderful memories!

I was saddened that Aunt Ollie's eyesight grew dim in her latter years, but I have a feeling that she had stored away countless images of the truly beautiful things in life. I know that she could always "see" Uncle Bryant, Winnie, Glennie, Young (as I called him), and all their families. I think she never lost sight of her parents, her beloved sisters and brother and their families . . . her friends . . . Miss Hattie's place . . . Aunt Sallie's homeplace . . . her flowers. . .and her little white church that sits in one of the most serene places I've ever been - a place she called home.

And now she IS home . . . and her faith has become sight - literally! She relished God's beauty here on earth, and she lived a truly beautiful life, but we can only imagine what she's enjoying today!

When God reached out to her for the last time on this side of eternity, I'm sure He was still smiling as He said to her, "Well done, Ollie!"

What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see, when He takes me by the hand and leads me to the promised land . . .

A Note From the Father

My dear child,

When you are so weak and exhausted, remember that My strength is yours. When you seem to have reached your limit physically and emotionally, that strength will enable you to mount up with wings as eagles. When you feel yourself falling, remember that underneath you are my everlasting arms. I see every tear, even when you are careful to hide them from others. I hear every spoken and unspoken cry, every whispered prayer. Don’t forget that I love you with an everlasting love and that my faithfulness to you is renewed every morning. You are my child and I haven’t forgotten you.

Your Heavenly Father

Oh, how He loves you and me . . .