Tuesday, April 3, 2018

His Goodness

Rebuilding is not for the fainthearted. There's a flurry of activity at my house this week. Dust is flying along with buzzing of saws and popping of nail guns. An amazing pantry is almost finished and there are new baseboards taller than the waters that invaded my home seven months ago. We are at the point where I must choose a paint color.  Who knew gray could be so complicated?
Just as I think I can't make one more wonderful decision, another one comes my way today. It appears I might have room to make one or two more upgrades. (Shh...can't give away the surprises all at once.)
Driving home this evening, my head still spinning, I had this consuming thought: But God, I don't deserve all this goodness. I just don't deserve all this beauty.  
My dear friend, Jan, had just given me an hour long pep talk and I was still drowning in guilt.
 I just don't deserve all this goodness!
And wouldn't you know it, I heard it, that audible God-whisper that shouts deep! 

No, you don't deserve it.
You don't deserve anything!
I just want to gift you. I love you and want this for you. Please accept my gift. Please let Me love you. Just be grateful, my child.   Yes, it's Me...God

If you know me well, you know extravagance is not my style. I'm frugal; I live simply. Past remodels, even the necessary ones, were difficult for me, because...well, I just don't think I deserve them. They were usually  completed with a huge dose of the reluctance and some never began because someone else had better need of the funds.  This is foreign territory for me, folks.   Very foreign!
But these days, when God speaks, I listen well.
So tomorrow, I will walk in the house and give God the praise He deserves for his lavish gift. I'm going to let Him smother me with all his goodness.
All this blessing: a construction team that is clearly His hands and feet, friends that love me through all my quirkiness and indecision, manna from unexpected sources, a newly resurrected rose bush that reminds me of my Rob who shared this space with me. He would have been very grateful of all this goodness.
He led me to a place of safety;
    he rescued me because he delights in me.
Psalm 18:19


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thin Places


I love the smell of freshly cut wood, I love the smell of progress! Demo is complete, doors are hung, and cabinet framing has begun. The kitchen plans are clean and simple, much like the desire for my new chapter.
I stepped into one of those thin places yesterday.
Standing alone in a bare, dusty shell of my former den, I found it hard to distinguish heaven from earth for a few beautiful moments. God was so present and I was so grateful. I wasn't concerned with keeping up with the neighbors, I was simply basking in the goodness of a caring Father.  Grateful that He carries me...goes before me...protects me in the details. Free from the demon of comparison...just a delighted child showered with exactly what she needs.
For the past few weeks I've found myself grieving the rustic Hill Country home that we'll never own during our retirement years.  Yesterday, I realized this restored home is his better plan. 
Complete joy and peace in the places we meet and trust God.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

What Now

"Getting enmeshed in a resisting “no” and in the unanswerable “why me?” is a recipe for self-inflicted suffering." David Malham-ALS patient/former grief therapist.

 "No" will return, making infrequent visits, but I must not feed them. 
Focus on the What Now.
I've never questioned the blessings. Why should I question the trials?
There is an appointed time for everything. 
It's time to heal.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Reset

I'll be returning home in a few weeks. Nothing will be the same. It won't be filled with my plans, my things, my people.
How does a 60-something on her own begin again after a devastating blow?
I planned to be a full-time, hands-on grandma with a full-time grandpa by my side in a house filled with Lego's and tea parties. I've been filling that bucket for a long time, but the reality keeps draining my dream.
Others look at their bright side of my reconstruction; please look at it through my life!
I can't find any gleaming redemption today.

There are only two alternatives: give up or reset.

Most of you know I'm brave enough to speak real and raw . There's always someone hanging by a thread who needs their ugly validated...who needs a fellow valley traveler.
One reader finds a local furniture shop specializing in one of a kind global pieces; she's ambushed once again, grieving the collection she amassed while working abroad.  She wanders the store, tears flowing, wanting more than her memories, wanting her own treasures to welcome her home.

I want my living, breathing treasures.




Then God whispers...or does He shout?  
A man without a home stops this "pitty partier" right dead in her tracks with one simple exclamation. 
Life is a gift...everyday, life is a gift!
And I realize I can't reset until I swallow whole this truth.
I've stopped counting the gifts...yet, there are so many to name.
I have a pulse; somewhere there's a new purpose.
I inhaled and exhaled first thing this morning; God will breathe life into my new home. 
My wise friend only dreams of four walls and a roof over his head, I've been gifted with a real live house!

Reset...
Get up! Give thanks! Leave the rest to God.


I tell you, get up, pick up your mat, and go home.
Mark 2:11



Saturday, March 17, 2018

Twin Fruit

So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. Exodus 2:25 NIV
The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. Exodus 3:7 NIV
So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped. 4:31 NASB

Planning for an upcoming retreat, I ran across the word concern throughout the story of Moses.  The verb (paqad-cared enough to visit) intrigued me. After a rather lengthy search on the topic, leading me to the fruit of the Spirit, I am learning kindness and goodness can't be easily separated. 
You just can't have kindness (chrestotes -tender concern) without goodness (agathousune-uprightness of heart and life.)
Kindness is a tender(concerned) heart that naturally leads to goodness: kindness in action. 
Pretty heavy stuff when you think about it. If we are following the heart of God, we can't have passive concern. We act upon it. 
It's a lot more than manners; it's a matter of the heart.
Throughout Scripture, God repeats his deep concern for the heart of man: the spirit, the attitude, the motivation behind our actions. David writes that 'God searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.' (1 Chronicles 28:9)
So what is the state of my heart as I prepare for Easter?
What heart condition has God found in me that needs repair and remorse? Does He find delight in a heart in sync with His?  During this Lenten season, what kind of heart would you ask Him to create in you? A tender or pure heart...a giving or even, forgiving one?
Did you catch create in you in the last paragraph?  This whole twin fruit kind of living is a supernatural thing; we cannot attain it on our own. Paul testifies, "but it is Christ who lives in me." Galatians 2:20  As with all of the fruits of the Spirit, we must be filled so we can be emptied. The character of Christ flowing from us...Did you know generosity is a huge outpouring of these two fruits? Without Christ living in us, how quickly do our open hands fold into tightly clinched fists? Without a constant filling of the Spirit, our heart grows stingy.
Will you join me in asking the Lord to fill us with tender concern for others as we approach Passover and Holy Easter Week?
Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life...Psalm 23:6 KJV





Friday, February 23, 2018

Six months

Six months...and this is the progress on my home. At least there is some; many still can't find a contractor.
Many can't afford a professional builder.  The wait takes its toll.
We are so tired! I, personally, have slipped into an undeniable brain fog. I can't string two thoughts together, not to mention pick between Sherwin Williams' Crushed Ice and Simple White for future walls
What I most fear is that I'm too exhausted and broken to care for my family and friends even though I dearly want to be present in their lives. 
I think I speak for a good lot of Harvey victims survivors. The heavy malaise of six long months spreads through our neighborhoods and the recent rains have dampened spirits as well as debris- lined streets.  Even those back in their homes stare at floor to ceiling boxes just waiting to be unpacked. And then they realize on important days, like "dress like a cowboy" day that boots and hats never made it into cardboard homes. The still to do lists, purchases, tax considerations loom heavy. Harvey never ends!
In the midst of mass murder and devastating diagnoses, Harvey seems a bit insignificant, doesn't it? We really are thankful for the support of friends and strangers over the months. We really are...
But the realization of six months smarts a bit.
We're still a needy bunch; hugs and encouragement welcomed.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lament

Yesterday...we all were looking for love, some in red envelopes, others in the ash.
I was busy spreading joy in my own corner of the world because living without my valentine is unbearable unless I choose to reach beyond the pain and love others.
While weaving valentine deliveries amidst the mundane, I was unaware that students and educators huddled in closets, texting their families frantic heart cries. Some their last.
Like many, I ended the day in sorrow. Once again, a senseless shooting shattered our peace.
This morning, questions lay unanswered.
Why God? Why does this have to happen over and over, especially to our children?
I want to huddle myself, hide from another tragedy.
How many can one personalize?
The usual indictments and solutions cover the airwaves this morning, yet, again, they fall short.
Where do I run when I can't find the answers?
Where do I run when the talking heads leave me weary?

I lift my eyes up to the hills, to my Maker.  Not for answers or solutions, but for help. Help to continue to feel the pain of others, help to continue to spread joy amidst the ashes. 
Chris Martin echoes: Still I always look up to the sky; pray before the dawn. 
I sit in the ashes of sorrow and look up!  To the only One who can heal the brokenness, who can keep us from evil. 
I enter this Lenten season looking up, praying before the dawn and into the night—laying bare my life to the One who keeps it. I pour out my sorrow for being part of the broken. Today, I don't seek answers; I seek the Answer.