It’s Not in the Stuff

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It was a sunny day, calm, upper 40s, low 50s.  Wonderful weather for December, ideal for last minute Christmas shopping.  Bob and Beth went one direction upon entrance to the Saturday flea market while I went another.  I certainly did not expect the low volume of customers but it was a welcome surprise.  It was nice, quiet, no one pushing and rushing.  I strolled about at my leisure, hoping the perfect little gifts for my special someones would leap off the tables and into my arms.  That never happened.  Still, I was happy.  I was with people I loved, having a wonderful day out.

I was nearing the end of my ineffectual search when I spotted a small, elderly man sitting behind the tables of his wares.  His thinning hair was dirty gray in color.  His little chin and the deep set wrinkles at the corners of his eyes and mouth gave him an elfin look.  He was neatly dressed and smiling.  We made small talk.  I normally would have walked off at that juncture but I felt compelled to remain.

I had been listening to Christian radio and recently a host had been talking about how “doing for the least of these” (Matthew 25:40) can be as simple as sharing a smile, a hug, letting someone pour out their sorrows, etc.  I found myself gazing into this man’s nondescript color of eyes and wondering what it was he needed.  Did he need something that I could give to him?  Then it happened.  He opened the door.

“My wife died January 13th.”

“Oh.  I’m so sorry.  Not even a year…”  I glanced at the empty wooden chair, catty-cornered to his, that held a jacket.  It spoke volumes.

He got a distant expression on his face.  “It’s really hard adjusting.  Life is really different now.”

I could only imagine the quiet of his house, devoid of his wife’s presence, and the pain of his first Christmas without her.

“How long were you married?”

“Fifty seven years.”

“Wow.”  I was impressed, not only because of the length of years, but because he didn’t look old enough to have been married that long.  “If you don’t mind my asking, how old are you?”

“Eighty-two.”

“I never would have thought it.”

“Yeah, we were married at 6:30 in the evening on September 7th on the army base.  I was in the jungles of ‘Nam and going through this is harder than that was.”

Any response I could contrive would never seem enough.  So I quietly stood, allowing him his memories, and silently prayed.

“You know,” he said, his round eyes meeting mine, “it’s not in the stuff.  People go crazy shopping for Christmas, maxing out credit cards, buy, buy, buy, but it’s not in the stuff.  None of life is in the stuff.  None of that matters.”

I wondered how many people would have to find themselves in the position he was in to come to that realization.  I wanted to cry.  I could feel his heartache.  He seemed so lonely.

“Do you have any children?” I asked.

“No.  We tried, but we never had any.  We found out (too late) that she was full of fibroid tumors–lots of them.  You wouldn’t believe how many they took out of her.”

That solace had been stolen from him.  “I’m sorry,” I said.

He gave a little smile.  “Thank you.”  Even though they had wanted to have children but couldn’t there seemed to be no bitterness about him.  In fact, he didn’t seem bitter about anything, unless it was the value people placed on stuff.  He simply seemed sad.

“Can I give you a hug?” I asked.

He stood from his chair.  “Yes.”

I walked around the backside of his area and met him there.  I held him and whispered a prayer of peace and comfort in his ear and let him go.  We wished each other a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and parted when a potential buyer came.

I’ve thought of John often since that day and sent up more prayers for him.  I’ve wondered what the responses would be if a couple of teenagers I know had a chance meeting with John.  Would they get it?  Or would his message of how meaningless stuff is fall on deaf ears and hard hearts?  They at least are young, with (hopefully) lots of time to realize the value of people.  What about the adults, maybe some turning on their death beds, who finally come to the realization that it’s not in the stuff.  God, would that all of us would come to that realization long before then.

I didn’t expect to have the Christmas that I did.  I literally feel spoiled with all of the stuff that I got.  But it’s not in the stuff.  None of the stuff matters; it’s the hearts full of love for me that the stuff represents that gives it meaning.  And even in that, I could live without the stuff.  Like John, I’d find my life totally upended if I was without my family and friends.  And God…totally hopeless without Him.  John had made reference to Him.  I suppose that’s how he survived Vietnam.  I suppose that’s how he managed for nearly a year without his wife of 57 years.  Without God, there’s no managing anything.  Without God, there’s nothing.

We may never get 100 hundred years as found in the lyrics of today’s featured song, but we need to make the time that we do have count.  It really does go by so very, very fast.  Join me today in making a conscious effort to put the stuff in its proper place–which is meaningless in the light of God, family, and friends.

 

Remembrance Quote 4 Picture Quote #1

picturequotes.com                       ~Theodor Seuss Geisel

 

For John, and others whose hearts are broken, may you be aware of the Presence of the Mender of the brokenhearted today and always.

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3  KJV

Six L o n g Years

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Bob was sitting on the footstool while I sat in my rocker glider.  Our heads were nearly touching as we tried to get the 1/4 inch splinter out of the second joint of my pointer finger–right hand, of course.  I looked up and smiled.  Actually chuckled a little.  There we sat, both wearing cheapo low prescription reading glasses purchased at local stores, struggling to focus.  This coupled with the gray/silver strands hit me like a box of rocks.  We are doing it, what we committed to do, aging together, “Til death do us do part.”

It was difficult to see bifocals in my future when I was 20.  These days, there are moments when it’s hard to see anything clearly 🙂 .  But then some things come into sharp focus.  Things one would never expect.  As mentioned in a prior post, I’ve been revisiting past journals to glean promises from the LORD.  Of course I’m reliving a lot of memories along the way…and not all of them pleasant.  Since hindsight is 20/20, pleasant or no, the past is a real eye opener.  When I sit and reflect on how many times God has saved me from so many worse things, I am blown away.  I am especially wowed by His keeping me where relationships with the opposite sex are concerned.

There was the couple of steadies in high school (one which would eventually become an engagement after high school and then broken); the wanna-be engagement (not so much on my part but his); and the random friendships with the opposite sex that never went beyond friendship and some innocent flirting (on both parts).  Finally came the day when I’d had enough.  I knelt beside my bed and prayed.

“LORD, I’m tired.  I don’t want to do this anymore.  You tell me, is it Your will that I marry?  Or am I to remain single for the rest of my life?  Just tell me and we’ll go from here.”

He turned me to Ruth 1:9 which says in part,

“The LORD grant that you may find rest, each in the house of her husband…”

in the house of her husband...That being said, peace encompassed me.  It was the will of God that I marry.  When and to whom really didn’t matter anymore.  My Creator Father answered me.  From that moment I knew He was in this thing with me.  I settled in.

It drove my parents and my brother nuts.  They all insisted that I “get out” but the good Book says in Proverbs 18 that he who finds a wife finds a good thing so I sat around waiting to be found.  You might think this is crazy.  But I had also read that it’s much better to concentrate on being the “right one” rather than finding the “right one” so that’s what I did.  I sat around concentrating and waiting.  Heh, heh.

One evening a friend of my brother’s came to our house.  I remember very few details (haven’t gotten there in my journals yet), but what I do remember is my brother literally carrying me, stocking feet and all, out to the guy’s car to meet him.  Mark stood me up outside the car door.  It was one of the most awkward moments of my entire life.  The guy’s name was Bob.  The rest is history…except for the history we’re currently making.

All those years ago, Bob told me he loved me before he ever dared kiss me and that came months after our first date.  I was not blind to the desire written all over his face, but he never offered his lips before he offered his heart…and even after that he waited for me…and waited for six l o n g years.  Talk about self-control!

There were differences in our faith.  He insisted  he would not leave his church and I insisted I would not back pedal in my relationship with the LORD and go to his church.  Religious bondage was not on my list of things to do with any potential mate.  So why was I dating him anyway?  The Bible says not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14).  Sure, Bob went to church but he didn’t know Jesus.  What was I doing with Bob?  To be of a truth, I don’t know.  It’s just that out of the guys I’d dated or befriended over the years he possessed a quality that the others did not: he loved me for me.  He saw past my pretty face and loved me.  God dropped that love inside of his heart for me.  Husbands are commanded to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19) but I don’t know that Bob ever needed that command.  It was a gift from God and I consider it a personal gift for me.

Back to my original question: Why was I with Bob?  Beside his many qualities, and the potential that I saw, he was teachable.  I remember him telling me one day that he thought it was okay to have sex with someone as long as you loved them.

“Oh,” I said, “is that right?”

Sold on the wisdom of the world, he said, “Yeah.”

What he failed to figure in with all of his worldly wisdom is that he was not dealing with a woman of secular standards but heavenly ones.

“Oh,” I said, “so then I guess it’s okay if I loved 4 other people before you.”

“No!”  He blurted then paused.  “Since you put it that way….”

He learned.  Logic won the day that day.  As did love.

When I think about great loves, (aside from God’s love for us), I think about Mary and Joseph.  There was no logic involved there, only faith and a lot of love.  Joseph knew that Baby was not his.  Legally, because they were in all ways married except for the consummation, he could have had her stoned for committing adultery.  I bet if that were an option for today there’d be a lot of piles of rocks lying all over the place.  But Joseph was a righteous man.  I believe he loved Mary and it was due to this tenderness toward her that he contemplated quietly divorcing her without stating a specific cause.  He did not wish to humiliate her.  He did not wish to cause her harm.  Still, he dealt with the pain and the injustice of it all.  Can you see him turning on his bed, a restless sleep coming and going?  This was Joseph’s gut-wrenching heartache.

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And what of Mary?  She was the one that wiped the smile off of Joseph’s face.  Imagine how being the source of his pain made her feel.  Not to mention her very life was in his hands.  Imagine the fear and the uncertainty.  Her plans for a beautiful ceremony and festivities were destroyed.  Babies conceived out of wedlock brought shame to the parents, not celebration.  Her expectations prior to the angel’s visit were forever altered.  Imagine how crushed she might have felt.  So much for being “highly favored”.  The neat little future she anticipated was smashed to smithereens.

Mary and Joseph shared a common thread: their love for God.  When He spoke to them they yielded themselves wholly to Him and His will.  They knew the gossips would eat them for lunch and have them for leftovers too, but they continued on.  Joseph heeded the message of the LORD given through an angel.  He took Mary to his home as his wife and did not have sex with her as instructed until after Jesus was born and her time of purification was passed.  And Bob thought 6 years was a long time–at least we weren’t waiting under the same roof!

Seriously, have you considered the strength of the enduring love that Mary and Joseph had for God and for each other?  Despite what everything appeared to be, they trusted God and lived in faith, believing that He would see them through.  There is no other explanation as to how they were sustained during such a time as theirs.

Join me today to take in the beauty of the simple faith and great love shared between God, Mary, Joseph…and all of us.  Then carefully weigh these questions: What is our love story?  Is God telling us something?  Are we listening?  Is God asking something of us?  Are we willing to say yes?

It is my joy to share with you one of my favorite Christmas carols and, in my opinion, one of the best light shows I’ve ever seen.  May you find as much pleasure in this as my family has over the years.

It is my sincere desire that you all have a very Merry and Miraculous Christmas.

30 Christmas Prayers and Blessings for Family and Loved OnesGod Bless You.

 

 

 

 

One of the Best Gifts

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I had a rather lovely, lengthy conversation with one of my aunts recently.  I told her that when I was single and had less responsibilities, I would sometimes make impromptu visits to Grandma’s after my night shift of sitting with an elderly woman.  Though Grandma was usually awake, she wasn’t always in her kitchen so she couldn’t hear me knocking on the door.  I walked around the back of her little house and threw small rocks at her bedroom window until I got her attention.  When she peered out she’d say, “Oh! Christi!”  She’d scurry away to unlock the door for me.

“I bet you really appreciated that time with her,” my aunt said.

“I did.”

“You know, Christi, I always say one of the best gifts my grandparents ever gave me was  to live long enough for me to learn to appreciate them.”

What a statement!  Got me to thinking about another closely related statement: What you don’t appreciate leaves.  That is quite a sobering thought.  Tie that to a statement a friend of mine had learned through classes she’s been taking: Everything we do moves us closer to connection or separation.  Think about that.  Really, really think about that.

What are we choosing today?  Are we making that phone call, writing that card, sending that text?  Is our embrace tighter?  Are our words giving life?  Are our actions showing love?

And are we appreciating our loved ones?  Do we realize that what we don’t cherish we risk losing?  And if we’re remiss with those we can see, how are we treating the One that we can’t see?  Ah, that one might have hurt a little.

Jesus said He stands at the doors and knocks.  If we hear His voice and open the door, He will come in and eat with us as a friend.  (Revelation 3:20)

There I was, throwing rocks at Grandma’s window.  When she saw that it was me, a big smile creased her face and she opened her door to me.  We then shared sweet communion at her table.  Those are some of my most treasured memories.

Are we letting Jesus in the way Grandma let me in?  Better yet, are we waiting for Him to knock or are we throwing the door open and calling to Him, “Jesus!  I miss You!  Let’s talk!  Come in and sit Yourself down for a while!”

That’s a greeting.  Imagine your arrival being so anticipated that you don’t even have a chance to knock!

When the girls were younger and I’d hear Bob’s truck, I’d yell, “Girls!  Your daddy’s home from work!”

He grinned while we scrambled and mock fought over who got to hug him first.

We need to do our best to make our loved ones feel that way.  More importantly, we need to realize that this is how God feels about us all of the time.  He’s excited to fellowship with us.  He is.  Adam is proof of that.  He didn’t need to plant a man in His garden, but He did.  Why?  Because He wanted fellowship.  He wanted to stroll around in the cool of the evening and discuss His creation with the crowing jewel of His creation.  Isn’t that something?  Pay attention: He did not sit and talk to the tree.  He did not chat with the monkey.  He was in fellowship with the man.  Do you think His desire is any less toward us now?  No.  As with Adam, He knows we need Him more than we’ll ever realize or confess.

There is a troubling account about the knocking at another door in the Song of Solomon,  Chapter 5.  The Beloved knocks at the Shulamite’s door but she is not inclined to jump out of bed and open the door.  For one, she has taken off her dress and is not presentable.  For two, she has washed her feet and does not want to dirty them by going to him.

Boy, do I relate to this!  I don’t know a married woman who doesn’t.  All snug in my blankets, sweet slumber coming to me or perhaps I am sound asleep when — BAM!  Bob rolls against me.  I don’t need his roaming hands to confirm what I think he wants but he throws them in for good measure.  I confess to grumbling.  I confess to being a resistant participant.  I confess to flat out refusal.  What I rarely confess to is, like the Shulamite, my (sometimes) sorrow at missing that window of opportunity for union with my husband.  It took her too long to go to the door; the Beloved had gone.  Isn’t it the same with us?  How often have we missed spending precious moments with the loved ones we do see and the One that we do not?

Join me today in appreciating our loved ones and making conscientious decisions that move us closer to connection.  Beyond that, let’s not wait for God to knock, but let’s throw open the door and call to Him and invite Him in.

May we fall in love all over again…and may today be that day.

am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine:…  Song of Solomon 6:3  KJV

Thankful for Fleas

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For a better part of the day I had been looking forward to this.  I stepped into the tub and discovered that the water was the perfect temperature.  I eased the rest of my body into the tub, protecting my spine with my inflatable pink sea shell shaped (say that 5 times fast) bath pillow and closed my eyes.

“Ahhh,” escaped my lips.

My muscles, aching from deep house cleaning and packing, repacking, and heaving boxes for 2 days, began to loosen.  The scent of dissolved eucalyptus bath salts and the sounds of Christian radio wafting from our bedroom through the folding door of the master bathroom satisfied my need for relaxation.  In moments like these I’m thankful that Bob gifted me with the deep tub instead of the big stand-up shower that he wanted.  I’m thankful for it when I’m sore or sick.  And I’m thankful for the years I got to spend with Rachel here.  I used to kneel on the floor beside the tub while she splashed inside and we played with mermaid dolls until all the bubbles were gone and the water was cold.

When I am soaking in a hot bath or snuggling under my blankets on clean sheets, I think of Corrie ten Boom and her sister, Betsie.  They hid many Jews, sparing them from the Nazi Holocaust during WWII.  They were caught and arrested and eventually ended up in a concentration camp.  Betsie died there.  I think of the cold, hunger, filth, hard labor and the abuse that they had to endure.  I think of how Corrie longed for tissues when she caught a cold and how Betsie assured her that God would provide–and He did.  I think of how Betsie was forgiving and thankful–even for fleas.  Yes, fleas.  They had an outbreak of them in their barracks which discouraged the guards from entering.  This gave them freedom.  The guards’ avoidance allowed the ten Booms the liberty to share the Gospel with other women.  To think of what they endured and the attitude they had in their suffering sometimes shames me.  I have so very, very much and am sometimes given to complaining.  Yet they found a way to be grateful in the midst of what many would consider to be nothing short of hell on earth.

It’s been years since I read Corrie’s account of her imprisonment, but it smote me so that I remember certain parts of it.  I especially think on these parts when I feel safe, am at ease, are struggling to forgive, or am feeling ungrateful.  Her life has given me much to think about and just as much to aspire to.  Am I any nearer to saying like the apostle Paul and Betsie ten Boom that I have learned to be content no matter the circumstances?  Are you?  Even when life is hard could we at least thank God for not giving us what we deserve?  For we have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  Truly, in our own merit we are entitled to nothing and yet through Jesus Christ we are offered everything.  Wow.  What a thought.

Join me today in praise and thanksgiving.  If Betsie could be thankful for fleas–even fleas– then I believe we can all think of something for which to be grateful.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  1  Thessalonians 5:18  KJV

Remember, thanks in everything, not necessarily for everything, knowing that God is with us even in the valley of the shadow of death.

Pot Luck

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We are celebrating our 1st birthday!

Thanks to all of you who follow God’s Word Girl.  It is my sincere prayer that through our year’s journey together you have been blessed, challenged, taught, amused, and increased in the revelation of God’s love and what He has for you.  I know I have.  I especially thank those of you who have written comments of encouragement.  (Email subscribers, if you cannot view your comments and/or my replies and want to, they can be seen on the site.)

In honor of this special occasion, I offer my thanks to you in the form of a bit of creative writing.  The idea came from bracelets that Laura and Beth made with Mum for craft shows.  They strung miscellaneous, leftover beads on multiple strands and then twisted the strands together.  They’re so diverse, colorful and pretty.  (Directions as to how to make them can be googled under the title “soup bracelets” or “bead soup”.)  At my suggestion, Mum tagged their creations, “Pot Luck” and thus came the inspiration for this writing:

Pot Luck

Life can be a lot like pot luck.  We never know for sure who’s going to show or what dish they’re going to bring.

You may see the cousin you haven’t seen for a while, the one who’s much more like a brother.  Could be you’ll see your favorite auntie who spoiled you as kid and still lavishes you with love.  Perhaps you’ll see the uncle with the sense of humor that draws everyone like a bee to pollen.  It may be that we’ll find ourselves lost in conversation with a friend that we deem a sister.  Maybe we’ll find ourselves laughing at the antics of the kids, reveling in the sage wisdom of the aged, or (and we’ve all done it) avoided the annoying. 🙂

There are magical occasions when we meet someone for the very first time and we feel like we’ve known them our whole life long.  We just know that no matter the time or the distance, theirs will be the conversation that can be picked up no matter where let off.

Yes, life is a lot like Pot Luck.  We never know who’s going to show or what dish they’re going to bring.

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Some dishes are tart or bitter, much like the hurting people we know.  There will be the bland, take-it-or-leave-it concoctions that resemble many of the mundane things in life that aren’t enjoyable but must be done.

There are the comfort foods, the ones that satisfy our palate as much as our hunger.  These are the foods we can have heaping servings of and still go back for seconds.  Then there are the sweet and the rich foods that melt in our mouths.  Every spoonful is to be savored.  These dishes are much like our dear ones with whom we create priceless memories.

People and dishes come and go and change over the course of time.  No one and nothing remains the same…except for God, “Who changes not”, the Great Host who invites us to, “Come and dine”.

Is life difficult despite Him?  Yes.  And yet He brings to the table the comfort foods, the sumptuous treats, and “life everlasting”.  Thanks be to Jesus Who came to offset all of the mundane and bitter things in life that would wear us down or crush us. Thanks be to Jesus that He left us Holy Spirit and all of His wonderful fruits!

The Pot Luck of life isn’t all pleasant, for sure, but God did promise to make all things work together for good for those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose.  Praise Him!

I’m so incredibly blessed to have you in this great big Pot Luck called Life.  You are to me a comfort and a sweet.  You are so very precious to me I’m so thankful for what you bring.

  ~Christi Marie

 

Join me today in thanking and singing praise to our benevolent Father for the family, friends, and the righteous leaders and teachers that are part of the Pot Luck of our lives.  God is good.

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.  Psalm 136:1  KJV

A Diet Unlike Any Other

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Most people I know don’t usually think about dieting until after the holidays but I thought I’d get ahead of the game by beginning now.  I’m diving in with a couple of relative stories.  Bear with me.  This diet will revolutionize your life if done properly.

We now have a white cat hanging around.  Seems we’re running a half-way house for strays.  I saw it limping in our yard and discretely put out some food for it.  I asked Bob if he saw it and he said, “Yes!” with some disgust.  He had went out to our partially enclosed basement entryway and there was the cat.

“It was out of the box eating.  It hissed at me,” he said.  How well do I know my man?  I had the exact same thought that he spoke out loud to the cat before he even told me.  “I said, ‘Don’t you hiss at me.  You’re sleeping in my cat box, eating my cat food, so don’t you hiss at me!'”

Got me to thinking about the Israelites in the backside of the desert on the way to the Promised Land.  God had been and was in the process of meeting their every need but it wasn’t enough for them.  In the words of the stray, “Hiss-s-s!”  In our language, complain, Complain, COMPLAIN!  Until finally, the LORD’s cup was full of it.  Moses told the whiny lot of them:

“When the Lord heard your complaining, he became very angry. So he solemnly swore, ‘Not one of you from this wicked generation will live to see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see this land because he has followed the Lord completely. . .’ ”  Deuteronomy 1:34-36  NLT

(By the way, Joshua, son of Nun, was also permitted to enter the Promised Land along with Caleb, but everyone else, nope.)  Just think of it, a whole generation exempted from their land because of their complaining.  Lest we think complaining is of little consequence, let us remember the Israelites’ lesson.  Then again, before we’re too hard on them, let’s take a peek in the New Testament:

But Jesus replied, “Stop complaining about what I said. . .”  John 6:43  NLT

Whoa, wait.  You mean people were still complaining?!  I wonder if He said that in the same tone I would have said that to my children…?

A couple of months ago, my daughters and I were in a circle of prayer with Mum.  As the Spirit directs, she is sometimes used in words of knowledge.  She looked at Beth and said, “You are to go on a diet.”

Her sisters and I immediately chuckled.  It seemed fitting that the girl we dubbed “the food police”, due to looking for ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and high grams of sugar, was being instructed to go on a diet.  After my initial amusement I was excited. Beth has had periodic bouts with acne that have ripped at her self esteem.  I thought, Wow, the LORD is going to give her a specific diet and she will be healed. 

Beth began to complain.  (Ah, people are still complaining.  Seems a chronic fault of the human race.)  The girls detest when we’re eating certain foods or taking specific herbs to deal with health issues.

“This isn’t a diet like you think,” Mum said, smiling.  “The LORD wants you to go on a diet of praise.  No more complaining.”

I was ready to shout “HALLELUJAH!”  Out of my 3 children, Beth is most likely to complain.  She picked up the nasty habit from her rather lovely mother 😉 .  And it is quite annoying.

Her edict to praise could not have come at a better time.  Soon after, our household was in an emotional uproar.  My heart had been broken, and as women are generally born sympathizers, the girls were feeling my pain.  We were all voicing our pain and our angst.  Except for Beth.

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I could see her huffing while slamming dishes around in the sink.  “Praise the LORD,” Beth grumpily said.  “That’s all I can say because I’m not allowed to complain.  Of all times not to be allowed to complain.”  Then she shut up, continuing to take her anger out on the dishes.

I burst out laughing.  Indeed, “of all times” for the LORD to call my lovely would-be complainer to a diet of praise.  It was the perfect time.  Somehow, laughing out loud righted the world.  The emotional pain I felt eased and I had hope.  It was like the sun broke through in the middle of a long dark night.

Life is hard.  But there is always something to be thankful for.  If you’re reading this, you can see, you have modern technology (for better or worse 🙂 ), and I have a notion you have a heart seeking after God.  And why was Caleb permitted to enter the Promised Land when an entire generation was not?  “…because he has followed the Lord completely…”  He didn’t complain, he trusted the LORD, and was ready to fight for the promise that was given.  We’re on the right path.  Let’s not mess it up by complaining!

Gratitude may not take inches from our physical problem areas, but it will remove great weights from our shoulders.  There’s much to be said for the peace of mind that comes from giving it all to the One who holds it all.

Join me today in looking at our problems through the lens of praise and see them for the opportunities they could be if left in the LORD’s capable hands.  I truly believe that we are surrounded by impossible people and situations that have “Miracle” written all over them…and miracles are what they’ll become if we’ll handle them with trust and praise.  May we continue to walk humbly with our Savior remembering that all things are possible with God.  We were never meant to do this alone and praise is what transports us into His presence so we never need to.  Bless His holy name!

Let the shackles fall off today as we join Go Fish in singing praise to our LORD.

Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.  Philippians 2:14-15  NLT

Light, Glorious Light

person about to touch the pendant lamp
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Through the coldest of winter months, our main source of heat is a coal furnace.  Anyone familiar with coal knows that it’s dusty.  You haven’t had dust until you’ve had coal.  Oh, it makes wonderful heat.  It’s so nice to have warm floors.  But the incessant dusting, yuck.

Recently, I enlisted the girls to clean all of the ceiling fan/light fixtures downstairs.  My dad commented on how dirty the kitchen one was in particular, which I took note of because he also has coal heat.  So I figured if he was commenting on how dirty it was it must be really dirty.  The kitchen fixture was a special trial as we had grease mixed with (coal) dust.  Grease-fighting dish detergent and baking soda were the choice cleaners as each fan blade was removed and scrubbed in the kitchen sink.  What a mess!  But then…

LIGHT!  I had no idea how dark our rooms had been until the globes were removed and scrubbed and replaced.  Light, glorious light.

I was sharing this story with a friend of mine and she began to laugh.  She and her family had been to another friend’s apartment in the same living complex as them.  She commented on how bright her friend’s living room was.  Theirs was dark and had to be lighted with lamps.  Her friend seemed amused.

“You have the same lights as me.  Just adjust them to where you want them to shine.”

My friend was in denial.  Even though the lights looked the same, she assumed they were an upgrade before this new friend of theirs moved in.

“I’m telling you,” her friend insisted, “go home and check it out.  They’re the same.”

My friend argued a bit more but decided to investigate when she went home.  “The lights are adjustable!” she exclaimed.  “Not only are the lights adjustable, but the bar they’re on is also adjustable.  I now have light where my computer is, light in the living room, and light over my kitchen sink.  Do you know that we’ve been washing dishes in the dark for over two years because I didn’t know that the lights were adjustable?!”

We laughed together.  How is it that things in life seem so dark sometimes?  Because of:

Grime.  I didn’t realize how dark my house was because it came little by little due to dust/dirt.  If it had happened over night, I would have been alarmed.  But it happened day by day, season by season.  What is it that we are letting into our lives that is causing darkness?  That is slowly eroding us spiritually and perhaps in all other ways?

I had an opportunity recently to go on a paid overnight bus trip out of state.  All I had to do was provide money for meals, and even one of them were paid for.  Part of the deal when we got there was, if it was a person’s first time in the establishment, they got an extra $15 food credit.  I watched as one woman squirmed in front of the man processing her.

“Have you been here before?” he asked.

She didn’t answer him but seemed to fumble with something in her purse.

“Ma’am, have you been here before today?”

She looked to the side at whom I assume were her traveling companions, or perhaps relatives.

“Ma’am, is this your first time here with us?” he repeated.

I was frustrated with her and I wasn’t even processing her.  I said to the relative I was traveling with: “I’m sure they can easily go back in their records and see if a person has been here before or not.  Is lying for a $15 food credit worth losing your soul?”

The thought jarred even me.  How many times have I lied and even for less?  How many times have my eyes lingered too long where they shouldn’t?  How many times has my tongue tripped down avenues of gossip?  How many times has unforgiveness or bitterness penetrated my heart?  How many times have wrong thoughts flooded my mind and I not only did not put them out, I let them set up camp?

“Come on, LORD, I’m trying to be pious here.  I’m talking about that woman squirming in what definitely appears to be a lie!”  I was beginning to squirm myself.

“We’re not talking about her,” He said.  “I’m talking about you.”

Ouch!

Aw, why did I have to hear the LORD so clearly?  Really?  He surely knows how to burst my self-righteous bubble.

person washing his hand
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Let’s clean off the grime, people.  If things are a little dim, see if there’s something that needs to be cleaned.  Sin must go.  All of it.  Granted, it may go by degrees.  I find that’s the usual process of things, but let’s at least be willing to let the LORD scrub us. 

Things aren’t always dark due to grime, though.  Sometimes it’s due to:

Ignorance.  My friend had all the light she needed but she didn’t understand how to use it.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Hosea 4:6  NKJV

My friend’s whole family was “in the dark” because the light wasn’t being properly used.  If we don’t rightly divide the Truth, or apply what God has given to us using His understanding and wisdom, we may not only suffer, but those we love and the people around us may suffer.  Lack of knowledge has serious implications.  Ignorance is not bliss.  It can bring literal destruction.

Let’s ask God if He has given insight to us but we aren’t understanding or using it properly.  We may already have the answer, we just don’t know it.  Turn on the Light.  We have a loving Father.  He loves us even in our dirt and ignorance, but He loves us too much to let us there.  And thank God Almighty that is the case.

Are you brave enough to join me today and ask God to light up our lives with Holy Spirit’s searchlight?  That is the only answer to our dirt and ignorance.  The clean and the revelation that come will certainly be worth the time and effort.

May this song and scripture be our prayer.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me, and know my anxieties;

And see if there is any wicked way in me,

And lead me in the way everlasting.   

Psalm 139:23-24  NKJV