Saturday, August 17, 2019

Handfuls on purpose

When we bought our "new to us" house four years ago, we purposefully bought a house in an older, more established neighborhood-one with more room between us and our neighbors than the newer housing developments in our area. Our home is on a corner lot so we only have a next-door neighbor on one side. Between us and that neighbor there is not a neat and tidy fence. There is, for want of a better description, an area I like to call "no man's land." While in the front, back and other side of our yard we've worked hard to remove and prune back the overgrown shrubs the previous owner left behind, neither we nor our next door neighbor are sure of where the property line lies in "no man's land".  There's a large tree of unknown species in the front of "no man's land" by the street. There's a HUGE walnut tree at the back of "no man's land" by the back fence. In between there is a wild tangle of assorted overgrown shrubs entwined with wild blackberry vines and aggressive, impossible to kill english ivy. While it wouldn't be hard to look up the plot plans of our two yards and figure who actually owns what, there are two factors that I think are contributing to neither one of us doing so. The first reason is - that wild jungle of overgrowth is it's own free privacy fence. Their puppies never come over into our yard and our grandchildren never venture over into theirs. Those blackberry vines are nature's barbed wire. The second reason is - neither of us wants to face the amount of work it will require to get "no man's land" into shape. Right now we can both use the excuse that we can't pull out bushes or cut down shrubs when we don't know who they belong to. 

Last week I noticed that the blackberry vines on our side of "no man's land" were heavy with ripe blackberries. I spent a good hour picking the ripe berries while the summer sun warmed my back. It was rewarding to put some blackberries from our own yard in the freezer for a future berry crisp. A thought popped into my mind as I did so, "handfuls on purpose."  (Join me for the rest of this post on Sunday, August 18th at Woman to Woman Ministries, where each Sunday I share a bit of Sunday Soul Food!)

still following,

Monday, August 12, 2019

Weekly Gratitude Journal

I often think of life like a tapestry. God sees the complete vision of the tapestry of our life. We only catch glimpses of the tapestry in retrospect. For example, looking back we see how He wove that relationship into our life at just the right time or we see how He was working for our good in that time of testing and trial though we couldn't make sense of what He was up to when we were in the middle of it. Right now, someone deeply woven into the tapestry of our lives and our church is moving back to their home country. It's painful to let them go. But, God is weaving something beautiful in us and in them. We can't see what His plan and design is, but we have a lifetime of experiencing His faithfulness to look back on and we know that He will continue to be faithful as we move forward. Meanwhile, we continue to give Him the thanks He deserves. He is so very, very good to us.
Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks, 
piling up gratitude day by day in my journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

Thank You Father God for-
-the satisfaction of finally doing a chore I'm not fond of-weeding!
-the generosity of our daughter's in-laws in letting us schedule a getaway at their cabin
-a good talk with my middle daughter
-seeing God at work when we trust and pray

-a fresh haircut
-another chance to trust God in a hard situation
-a beautiful summer walk
-stopping by to see the grands for a few minutes on the way home from running errands

-a free bag of sweet, golden yellow plums
-a huge wild bunny hanging out in our backyard
-cooler temps - it feels like fall is on the way!

-having a little going away gathering for G. who's heading back to college
-love and encouragement and prayers from our church 
as we adjust to news of a beloved staff member moving away
-funny grandkid photos and videos via text

-God's provision for our needs and as well as for way more of our wants then we deserve
-a post birthday tea party with friends
-a good movie that made me laugh and cry

-a foggy, drizzly morning that makes me feel like I live at the beach instead of 80 miles inland
-youngest daughter and the two youngest grands coming over
-taking the youngest grands for a nice long walk in their double stroller
-stopping by the park to play on the swings

-the truth that saying goodbye to someone we love who is moving away
 is just temporary because the family of God is eternal
-God at work in His church, even as we say goodbye to a beloved staff member, 
God is working in His people to help cover their responsibilities 
-a 50th birthday celebration for a sweet friend

still following,

Saturday, August 10, 2019

He Heals the Brokenhearted

Some years ago on our last night of vacation, I asked my husband if we could go to the beach one last time and stay long enough to catch the sunset. While he got settled in his beach chair and engrossed in a book, I decided to walk down the beach to the jetty. It was on my way back to where my husband was sitting that I saw a pelican standing there on the sand. I walked right up to snap his picture. He didn't fly away. He didn't run into the sea. It was then that I suspected something was wrong with it. I stayed awhile trying to shoo him and to see if I could tell what was wrong. He waddled closer to the water. Suddenly, a wave came and knocked the pelican onto its back. It flailed there in the surf, its neck stretched out, its wings flailing in the water, fighting but not able to turn upright. My stomach felt nauseous watching it. I thought it was going to drown right before my eyes. When the waves subsided it managed to get upright and to get back onto the sand. It just stood there, immobile. I finished walking back to my husband and told him about the pelican. He went to look for himself and came back reporting that he could see a fish hook in the pelican's head. I felt helpless, not knowing the 911 to call for birds that need emergency assistance. We watched the sunset and left the beach, leaving the poor pelican there in the sand. The next day we flew home.

On the following Sunday morning, the whole memory of the pelican came back. The Lord used the vivid picture of the struggling pelican to speak to my heart about hooks. Hooks in our lives can be  things such as unhealed hurts, unmet needs and unresolved issues. The things that have broken our heart can become hooks if they aren't dealt with and allowed to heal. These hooks can affect our ability to handle the storms in life that come our way, Even the smaller waves that we should be able to sail through seem to bowl us over and knock us down. We feel we will surely drown if we get hit by one more wave. We flail and we fight, but we just can't seem to get on our feet and we surely can't fly. We need Someone to help us.  (Join me for the rest of this post on Sunday, August 11th at Woman to Woman Ministries, where each Sunday I share a bit of Sunday Soul Food!)

still following,

Monday, August 5, 2019

Weekly Gratitude Journal-the birthday week edition

A couple of weeks before my 62nd birthday I sent a group text to my husband and daughters declaring that, for the week of my birthday, I was abdicating all responsibility. I declared my birthday week, "Elizabeth's Week of Fun". 

Being in full-time ministry is much like parenthood. It's a great privilege and a great responsibility. There are so many wonderful things about it that I wouldn't trade for the world. But, much like being a parent, the demands of ministry life can sometimes make me feel like I'm not the boss of my own life. Before you misunderstand, I know that God is the Boss, the Lord, of my life and has every right to be so. I don't chafe against His leadership over me. But, in complete honesty, I have seasons of chafing against the demands of others that can dictate how I spend my days. Perhaps much of the blame should actually land on myself. With my enneagram one, wing two personality and need to do all things well and right and to be seen as good and to help others, I worry about failing others if I'm not available when they need me. I don't want anyone in our church to feel unloved or uncared for. It's a burden I've put on myself that is too big for my shoulders.

My husband was in full support of the idea of my week of fun, my week of shirking all responsibility. Even so, I felt a bit guilty, wondering if it wasn't me just being selfish and self-absorbed. I talked to God about it and surrendered the week to Him.

It was an awesome week-a staycation if you will. For a week I savored and enjoyed summer instead of letting it fly by. It was the reset I needed. What is interesting is that by the time Thursday rolled around I wanted to gather with my church family for our midweek worship and prayer time, though I'd originally given myself permission to skip. 

On Friday, my 62nd birthday came and went. I fully enjoyed it and was so incredibly well loved by my family, friends and church family. I felt no hint of regret or worry within myself about  my advancing age. I just felt happy and blessed and loved and so very thankful for this life God has given me!

Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks, 
piling up gratitude day by day in my journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

Thank you, Father God, for-

-discovering more layer of riches in the book of Ephesians though I've read it so many times before
-making homemade crumpets for the first time, with G.
-her sweet gratitude to us

-my big sister calling me to wish me happy birthday 
since she'll be out of cell phone range not the actual day
-a beautifully perfect day trip to the beach!

-a new Rae Dunn "thankful" mug-the word I've been looking for!
-three handsome elk with their huge antlers 

-youngest daughter and the two youngest grands coming over to see us
-a walk with my youngest grandson
-texts from our middle daughter who is on an Alaskan cruise

-It's August!
-buying a fun, inexpensive bracelet I've been wanting but talked myself out of getting until today
-comfy new shoes I've been wanting came in the mail today-my birthday gift from my husband
-an encouraging word from one of the men in our church

-God's loving, watchful care for me these 62 years
-so many phone calls, texts, messages, and cards wishing me Happy Birthday!
-a delicious and fun family dinner made by our daughter

-a sweet time of worship and prayer as I cleaned house
-hugs and a gift from our middle daughter and the grandkids, who got home from their cruise today
-a walk and good talk with a friend

-Your powerful presence with us
-and a good word
-a fun Sunday lunch with friends

still following,

Saturday, August 3, 2019

God's got a grip!

This morning I was listening to worship music and praying and turning over to God, once again, circumstances and people that were weighing heavy on my mind and heart. I was going to write, "such is the life of a pastor's wife", but in truth, we all have this in common don't we. We all have loved ones and circumstances that we are concerned about. As I prayed God brought to my mind a portion of scripture from John 10:25-30 in The Message Bible "My sheep recognize my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from Him." God was reminding me that those I've been praying for were all His born again children, His sheep, and yet I wasn't praying with conviction that God was truly able to keep them safe and secure, protected from the Destroyer.   (Join me for the rest of this post on Sunday, August 4th at Woman to Woman Ministries, where each Sunday I share a bit of Sunday Soul Food!)

still following,