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Posts Tagged ‘Blessings’

12 Yet even now—oracle of the LORD—
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, weeping, and mourning.

13 Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God,
For he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love,
and relenting in punishment.

14 Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind a blessing
(Joel Chapter 2)

I love this passage and its focus on God’s continuous invitation to us, along with His great mercy. The passage indicates a whole-hearted turning toward Him, not simply a temporary entreaty seeking “a thing” from Him and then turning back away.

The last line is what is sticking with me the most this morning: “Perhaps he will relent and leave behind a blessing.”

Initially we think He will leave behind a blessing FOR us in the form of some good gift. And that certainly may be the case.

But also, it’s possible that the blessing He leaves behind IS “us” as new creations with new hearts and a new dedication to offering mercy to others.

LORD, help me to be merciful; teach me; use me to be a blessing to others. Amen.

 

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A Moment

It’s been two months since our trip to Portland and the wedding. I wrote description to my friend after we got back:

I had a moment one day when we were walking downtown – all the kids were quite a ways ahead and I was hanging back with Julie (my sister-in-law) who couldn’t keep up. As I watched the kids ahead, I had an overwhelming feeling of being blessed – like a pitcher of water being poured over my head filled with blessings, overflowing.

Suddenly, like a switch, as the kids got further ahead of us and further away, I felt overwhelming sorrow at my loss of them. It’s a little hard to explain but God has gently been removing them from my life for quite a few years now and I’ve learned to surrender them to Him.

But in that moment, I realized He’s not done yet and I have to let go even more. It makes me so sad but Jesus, I trust in You.

I’m still pondering that experience and what it might mean. I don’t suppose I’ll really know until everything unfolds in due time.

But Jesus, I do trust in You. Lord, help my unbelief.

 

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Sometimes the little blessings God places before us are simple and beautiful and very personal.

This morning I sat on my porch swing and started a novena, praying for the upcoming marriage of my son Joseph to his fiancée Amber.

As I was praying, a purple finch alit on a branch in front of me. He was soon followed by a female and they perched together, either grooming each other or sharing food.  finches

They sat there together for the longest time before flying away and I thought how appropriate and sweet it was to observe the pair even as I prayed for Joe & Amber.

Then the male returned and I don’t recognize a finch song when I hear it but he was directly in front of me, so when he opened his mouth I learned that he has more of a chatter than a song, and it’s a long burst.

And that made me laugh because Joseph is a very chatty guy. So I continued my novena, praying a Hail Mary and then stopping as the finch burst forth its chatter-song and we traded off that way for quite a long time.

And it was wonderful and a blessing and it was just for me alone. Because to whom would I try to describe it? With whom could I share it? Who wouldn’t roll their eyes at me and think me a little nutty?

Yet without a doubt, I was given this gift by our kind and loving Father. His creation – His little finches – joined me in prayer this morning and we gave glory to God, together.

 

 

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I look at my nails this morning. Less than 24 hrs. ago I had my first manicure and now my nails are rich in color, smooth, shiny, and perfect … except for one small chip. Nine out of 10, perfect; the 10th with a flaw.

I think I like it that way. It’s such a reflection of my life. The last 3 months have been a whirlwind of great blessings:

Emily visited for 6 weeks while doing a pharmacy rotation. We have always been close, but living so far apart creates distance in a relationship, too. It was wonderful to have her here, to see her dressed each morning for work in a cute outfit, to linger over a meal and talk about anything and everything, to receive advice from her, and to hear about the hopes and dreams and plans she shares with her husband. This wonderful young woman is my friend and I treasured every moment.

Joe has been here almost 2 weeks, his girlfriend Amber a week. I’d met her only briefly before and it’s been great to spend time with her, get to know her, to see her and Joe as a couple. I like her a lot. He has been on a roll, hardly stopping to sleep as he visits friends, shows Amber the sights, talks about football and work and politics. To cap off his visit, he learned yesterday that he passed the first (and hardest) test on his path to being a licensed architect. He arrived for the holidays absolutely certain he had failed the test; he will leave motivated and excited to keep pressing toward his goal.

Having both of them home has given me more time with Mitch, too. Though he lives here, he works and goes to school and has one of the bedrooms set up with his tv and computer – a den where he studies and relaxes, an introvert like me. But he has spent more time hanging out with the family, laughing and debating and making us laugh with his offbeat sense of humor. No longer “the little kid” but a man who is easy-going, kind, funny. His eyes glistened with tears that he tried to hold back as he hugged Emily good-bye. What a beautiful moment and blessing for me to witness.

Mark and I were recently able to buy a piece of ground, realizing one of Mark’s dearest dreams. 80 acres – half timber for hunting, half crop ground to cash rent. We looked at a house for sale near the ground; it wasn’t quite right but we are keeping our eyes open and making plans together. It feels good to have moved closer to each other again in our marriage and to have some new plans and hopes for the future.

Like my new manicure, my life right now feels rich in color, smooth, shiny, new. But it won’t stay that way and even at its best it isn’t perfect. The glow of our time together will fade and there will always be chips. They are the inevitable trials of living in a fallen world; the veil that hangs between this life and the next; the separation I feel from my real home, my eternal home.

This life can never be perfect, but it can be very beautiful. And the chips aren’t flaws or something to avoid – they are necessary too.  God Himself will fill them in, clear them out, change the color, and re-do them as He wills. Sometimes ragged, sometimes nearly perfect; always worth pondering both the perfection and the flaws.

“I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

 

 

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I’ve been on the run all week with lots of little errands. Nothing of importance, just busy-ness.

But my mind has been very still and focused, thinking of Carla and the trial she is facing. Her 26-year-old daughter Amy has been undergoing tests to formulate a treatment plan. Amy, mother of a 1-year-old son, has been diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer.

I was thinking of another battle, found in Exodus 17:

11 As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight. 12 Moses’ hands, however, grew tired; so they took a rock and put it under him and he sat on it. Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady until sunset. 13 And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword

Generally when we raise our hands to God, it is in praise and thanksgiving. I believe it is so important to look and to see things worth praising and worth thanking Him for, especially in our trials.

Even though this battle my friends have entered may be long, there is much to be thankful for and much for which to praise God. It’s already been a blessing to witness how many people have come alongside the family with thoughts and prayers and support.  I think we all will be their Aaron and Hur, helping support their hands and keeping them raised to God when they grow weary.

From my own experience, I have come to know and understand the Truth of 1 Thess 5: 18:

“In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”

I read that passage the very morning my dad was admitted to ICU. I have sure pondered that a lot since then as God as led me through my own trials.

I pray for my friends and for all people who are in the midst of great trial. I ask God to strengthen them and to use their trials to draw them ever-closer to His own heart. Open their eyes and hearts to recognize your blessings and your presence in their lives. Please send the Holy Spirit to strengthen their faith and to fill them with peace. And bring them Aarons and Hurs to help support them.  In Jesus’ name, I pray.

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A long time ago, a friend shared a sermon she’d heard.  She said that we should imagine ourselves with our arms stretched out in front of us, palms-up and hands open.  When we are in that posture, we don’t hold on to anything … we are open. 

From that posture, God can give to us what He wills … trials or blessings. Likewise, He can take from us what He wills … pain and sorrow, or He may ask us to surrender something to Him that we find precious.  

I love that. I am a visual person, and kneeling in prayer I have literally done that – stretched my arms out, palms-up and hands open – surrendering to God my hopes and dreams and burdens and fears. I’ve reached for blessings and comfort, and have returned to Him the children He so deeply blessed me with.

As Job asked, how can I receive blessings and refuse trials?

 In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

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I read an article this morning that fits with something I’ve been learning. This paragraph especially stood out for me:

To look at the faces of the poverty-stricken people of Juarez — who have no electricity, running water, or sanitary facilities — is to see wide smiles and bright faces filled with a nearly inexplicable happiness. There is no billionaire with their radiance. Doesn’t that say it all? They praise God. They take two hours to go through the Mass. And they are not just reciting prayers. They are living those prayers and the Living God responds to it.

Isn’t that wonderful? When I was traveling through my dark night, I learned that turning out of “self” and trying to help others, helped me and blessed me.

I learned that taking time to consciously thank God cultivated more gratitude in my heart and peace in my soul.

I learned that making an effort to see and notice the blessings around me seems to multiply them – and I am filled again with gratitude.

I learned that as I approach God in prayer, it’s wise to approach Him with praise and thanksgiving. He is not Santa Clause that I should bring my list of demands and desires; He is holy and mighty and wonderful!

I have every reason to feel deep gratitude to God and I pray that I never become blind to the beauty and the blessings that are all around us, in creation and in each other through Him. Lord, help me each day to see the countless blessings large and small that you pour out abundantly!

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. (Psalm 100:4 )

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