Laugh at the Days to Come

Psalm 27:13

I want to laugh at the days to come. My prayer for this month is for laughter to fill our hearts and to believe that God is good and his plans for us are good. It is tempting to associate the good life with something physical, yet when the physical breaks, it’s hard to see the good in that.

I pray to remain confident of God’s goodness, even if I don’t get the things I have my heart set on. I admit being guilty of having a wrong assumption that because God is good he will give me the things I want. By God’s grace, he is freeing me from a limited and small understanding of what is good so I can experience the huge and satisfying good that he has planned for us.

This is God’s goodness to us today … he filled our hearts with laughter. He replaced our tears with smiles and refreshed our countenance with joy. By faith and hope, I believe that we shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! (Psalm 27:13) We will laugh at the days to come.

laugh at days to come

One of my greatest joys in this world is to sing with all my heart songs of our faith, of the Mighty Work and Victory of Jesus Christ for broken people. I especially like to do so in the face of all the suffering, pain, death, diagnoses, weakness, confusion, darkness and so, through faith, to lift up my heart to Him-who-is-my-Hope and laugh at the days to come. —Jason T. Dorsey, Lead Pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, IN

The Lord is my Joy by Nathan Partain

The Lord is my Joy, the Lord is my joy
When all that I have is lost, I find
The Lord is my Joy.

The Lord is my strength, the Lord is my strength,
When I am too weak to go on, I find
The Lord is my strength.

My all in all is he, My healing King
My Master tends to me, for him, my soul shall sing.

The Lord is my rock, the Lord is my rock,
When all I have faith in fails, I find
The Lord is my rock.

The Lord is my delight, the Lord is my delight,
Above all the joys of life, I find
The Lord is my delight.

My all in all is he, my breath, my song.
In him I have everything; to him, my soul belongs.

I wait, and wait upon you, To come for me in rescue.
Give strength, my heart is failing, yet still, my lips will praise you.

And with his wings he covers me, he keeps his watch when I’m asleep,
I offer all my thoughts and dreams, I give my savior everything.

You who gave your only son, I dare not doubt your steadfast love.
Come, I beg you take my life, if am yours then all is right.

My all in all is he, my dearest friend.
I put my trust in him; on him, my soul depends.

Psalm 46:11

When Christmas Joy Becomes Sorrow Becomes Hope

Christmas tree

Well, hello 2015! So grateful to welcome the first Monday of a new year. A new year of adventures for our family and another year of meeting new friends to share our adventures with. All of us on separate journeys, each with different stories to live out, yet through our family and friendships, our stories take on the shape of God’s providence, weaved and held together by strands of grace, hemmed in behind and before by his unstoppable love and relentless mercy. (Psalm 139:5)

When Christmas joy …

The year of 2014 neared its end with an awesome Christmas Eve celebration at our church and a wonderful Christmas morning with just the two of us, my husband and I. And we actually had a fun time! I was quite surprised by that since it was our first year we were apart from family. We were hoping for a white Christmas but instead we had Indiana sunshine that is bright as a grey wool blanket. To be honest, I was struggling to feel the joy of Christmas this year and my grumbling about the circumstances that prevented us from traveling didn’t help either. I soon realized I was substituting family to experience real joy instead of reveling in the glad tidings of great joy, for unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given. Isaiah says, “Once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder…” (Isaiah 29:14). An outrageous wonder of sacrificial love… Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to all the earth. There was much joy!

Redeemer Christmas Eve

Photo credit: Chuck Horn, Christmas Eve, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, IN

 When Christmas joy becomes sorrow …

We received a phone call informing us of sad news that a member of our family passed away unexpectedly Christmas morning. The harsh brutal bite of reality hurt, leaving an open wound of unsettling grief. I read that death is a thief whose robbery is profoundly felt during holidays. We pray our family will believe that God will never stop pouring out his grace upon them. God keeps track of all their sorrows, collects all their tears in his bottle for he has recorded each one in his book. (Psalm 56:8)

When Christmas joy becomes sorrow becomes hope …

It is hard to find hope on your own. At least I think so. I’ve never been strong enough to pull myself up by my bootstraps. I need others to remind me that joy will come in the morning. I should be reminded of God’s promises and assurance of a living hope through Christ. Here are a few quotes (and Bible verses) that have helped me to understand that it is God’s grace that joy springs out of sorrow and sorrow grows into hope.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This living hope is our hope of salvation that includes an imperishable inheritance. The new life that we have in Christ is something that can never be taken away. (I Peter 1:3-4)

When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for this world? For us? The clouds open when we mouth thanks. [1]

We are not the Author of our story. We are the characters. [2]

Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you…We can trust God, because the biblical story will help us endure when our own little stories seem confusing and we feel forsaken. And we can pray, as Job did. Though filled with anguish and despair, Job continued to wrestle with God—unlike his friends, who talked about God but never really knew him. In that story, God reveals himself to be almighty and approachable, transcendent and personal, and the ultimate answer to suffering. [3]

Our stories are different, our journeys are different, but to keep on keeping on, in hope, is our deepest vocation, whoever we are, wherever we live, whatever we do. [4]

Behold, I am making all things new. (Revelation 21:5)

[1] Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts | [2] Kara Tippetts, The Hardest Peace | [3] Tim Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering | [4] Dr. Steven Garber, The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation and Culture

Sunday Respite | Show Them Jesus

sunday respite_2

”This is what the Lord says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; another will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel.” Isaiah 44:2-5

Dear Gracious and Loving Heavenly Father,

Thank you for this amazing scripture that gives us great hope for our future generation, our children’s children. I am thankful that you formed them in their mother’s womb and you promise to be their help. I pray that you would pour out your Spirit upon them and that your name would be written on their hand. With anticipation, I long for them to say with confident assurance, “I belong to the Lord.”

Please keep them thirsty for your love, for your truth, for your word. I pray that you would make the gospel of grace compelling and irresistible in their lives.

Help us, their parents and grandparents to be faithful to pray for our next generation to spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. This is a beautiful portrait of a life rescued by your grace. Please pour out your blessings on our descendants and help us to remain faithful to show them Jesus.

Amen.

sunday respite 1

Let’s Wander Through Summer Memories

Wandering in Summer Memories

Summer beckons us to linger here. Let’s stay a while longer, please, lets stay another day or maybe two.

I love to wander through summer memories … to think about my family and friends. To remember those leisurely hours that roll over into days. I want to go back there! I find myself daydreaming of dancing waves, white sand, broken seashells.

The sweetest of summer memories are the ones of the little people in my life.

Isla Beach

Summer Memoriessummer fun 1summer funSummer has a way of healing and restoring. Summer gives me time to slow down, to ponder, to experience the beauty of grace over and over … I love to move slowly through the memories, to leisurely wander through the sweet times, to sing praises of thankfulness for these precious souls.

Being Filled with Wonder and Awe

the small things 2There is time throughout the day to be filled with wonder and awe. I often forget to live life simply big, to look for those simple things that will fill my soul with wonder and awe.

Every sunrise that I greet is another opportunity to experience more grace, more hope, more joy, more peace, and more wonder and awe. Sometimes anxiety and impatience try to steal the excitement of discovering all of this. The four walls of connecting rooms which I live attempt to confine the grandeur of God at work…God revealing his glory.

I pick up a magnifying glass to see what I’m missing.

I want to inspect what God has promised and to expect to be filled with wonder and awe.

To live life simply big…to be ready for more. I pray the Lord’s Prayer…”Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…” to want nothing more than God’s glory and His will, to live and breathe His wonder and awe within these four walls of connecting rooms…and beyond this place, for His Glory.

Here is a photo of my grandchild inspecting the wonder of a ladybug. It took a lot of bravery for her to hold a little insect in the palm of her hand. She was afraid because she didn’t like the feeling of the bug touching her skin.

Funny how the small things can be scary for us.

It’s in those small things that remind us of God’s infinite grace and love that will overwhelm the scary things so we can live experiencing more.  Dig deep into your memories of your first experience of wonder and awe of God’s grace in your life.

My grandchild is brave with a ladybug and it brings back a personal memory in my childhood of holding a snail…sliding on my arm…a snail with a broken shell. This simple life was sliding along a path in my mother’s flower garden. I noticed the shell was cracked. Carefully, I picked up the snail and held it in the palm of my hand.

I brought the snail, with it’s cracked shell, to my mother because she could fix everything broken. She quickly found white bandage tape and scissors and promptly taped the broken shell. Then she brought me an old shoebox and walked with me outside, while I held my snail with its broken shell, secured with white tape.

My mother pulled up grasses and found pebbles and a little dirt to put inside that cardboard shoebox for my wounded snail.  And there it stayed. I watched it move about for many days. I held it in the palm of my hand and it would move slowly out of its shell along my skin.

One day, I released it back to my mother’s garden, with the white tape still holding the shell secure.

And so, here we are…broken but taped and healed by God’s grace, being filled with wonder and awe.
the small things

Wonder and Awe

The Quiet Moments of Reflection and Stillness

Lake stillness

Hours spent on this deck drift away. Quiet conversations, making plans, sharing hope. Dreaming over-sized dreams. Our laughter bubbles over, slowly stopping with a smile, a wink and a sigh. The water is soothing. Birds are chirping. Geese follows the leader, honking for their young to keep up.

A Blue Heron catches the wind, flying overhead with a stick in its beak, landing on the very top of the highest pine tree, to build a nest.

Is there an Osprey nest close by? The great bird caught a fish in its talons and announced it loud. Searching for the sound, we look up to watch the grandeur.

We soak in the quiet stillness, giving way for the memories to carve a place to settle in deep.

There is a “for sale” sign in the window.

We will crave this moment when it is gone.

Lakelife stillness 2

A Father’s Rescuing Faith

Son Rescued

A Father’s Rescuing Faith | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 34

Today’s Reading:  Hebrews 8 – end

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. By faith … He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. Hebrews 11:1 and 27

It was several years ago that he found himself in a frightening predicament. He was in a serious situation, a crisis without a clear solution. He was racked with anxiety and fear. There was no holding back the tears, his body shaking with hard sobs and his mind straining to find equilibrium. His father was notified and with urgency went to his son, to rescue his son from harms way.

The son was so distraught with hopelessness that he didn’t hear the voice of his father say, “Son, I am here.”  Again the father said, “Son, it’s me…look at me.”

The son continued to cry into the palms of his hands and again his father repeated, “Look at me. Look at me. This is Dad, I’m here.” The son moved his hands from his face and began to look up towards the sound of his father’s voice. “Look at my eyes, son. Don’t take your eyes off mine.” The son fixed his gaze into his father’s eyes and the father asked his son, “Do you trust me?” “Yes”, replied the son. “Have I ever broken a promise I’ve made to you?”, asked the father. “No”, replied the son, with his eyes fixed steadily on his father.

The son’s hope was returned, believing and assured that his father would be with him through the end. Months and years went by and the father never broke his promise to his son, he was there to rescue him time and time again.

This chapter in the son’s story has two wonderful conclusions…the son was rescued twice. Once by his earthly father extending unconditional love and then by his Heavenly Father, extending the gift of grace. Because of receiving all of that, the son is living a better story now, with his eyes fixed on God and his faith growing strong. And what about the father?  From the very beginning, he never took his eyes off God…he was reflecting God’s grace to his son. When the son looked at his father, in way he saw Jesus, a reflection of God’s love for him, the beauty of a father’s rescuing faith.

(This is another redeeming story of God’s grace to our family)

 Faith Quotes to Ponder:

Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.” A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Tim Keller, The Reason for God

The issue of faith is not so much whether we believe in God, but whether we believe the God we believe in.  R.C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture

True faith means holding nothing back. It means putting every hope in God’s fidelity to His Promises. Francis Chan, Crazy Love

Son Rescued 2

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday