Friday, July 31, 2015

Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda

I have always thought of September as the beginning of the new year.  Another year in school brought with it a new arrangement of classes, activities, and choices.  How am I going to use the time that God has given me this year?

It is only the last day of July.  And I am fully aware that if I do not establish some non-negotiables right now, my schedule for the next ten months will arrange itself for me, the urgent crowding out that which may bear the higher good.  And another year will speed past, leaving me with a list of "woulda, shoulda, coulda," things that I intended to seek and pursue, but never got around to it.  It is as if we think quite suddenly a huge gap of "free time" will open up.  Ain't gonna happen.

And so, even before the new year begins, be mindful of what patterns of behavior you establish.  Those patterns will live in your heart and lock themselves in for a long time.  Indeed, many patterns will engrave themselves over your lifetime.

When we seek God and establish those patterns that bring us closer to Him, He will change the trajectory not just of this coming year, but the course of your life.

Seek out God's people,
a place to worship,
a means of fellowship,
those with whom
        to do life together.
Seek out a means of serving others,
    God will lead you to it.
Seek out God's Word,
     a daily pattern of engraving
        His Word on your heart.
Seek out how to increase
        in knowledge of Him.

It is not that we need to jam in more activities,
nor establish what is important,
            but that which is pre-imminent.

No regrets this year.
But moving forward
     one step after another. lead a life worthy of the Lord,
fully pleasing to Him,
bearing fruit in every good work,
and increasing in the knowledge of Him.

                             Colossians 1. 10

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Last Week of Summer

It is a hot and muggy day.  This morning as I checked the weather, it was an incredible 96 percent humidity.  Summer is waning fast.

A sweet friend Julie texted me this morning, "This is the last week of summer," before the kids go back to school.  "I am determining today to take any chance that comes my way to laugh with my kids."

I texted her back, "As they say in Chicago about voting, laugh early and often."

"And take them to get Slushies.  The bluer the better."

For those who have a week left (or more), I am republishing a post from 2011 entitled "Bored With Nothing To Do."  Because that is when the real FUN begins.


Bored – Nothing To Do! is a delightful picture book about two brothers who undertake an adventure on a summer day when there was “nothing to do.”  I was reminded of it last night when I read an article  in the Wall Street Journal focused on a new “underserved” marketing niche:  boys 6 to 11 years old.  Why?  Because, “boys watch more animated series than girls and represent a lucrative sales opportunity for videogames, toys and sports merchandise.”  Put into a nutshell:   it is the middle of summer, there are A LOT of kids passively watching a screen in front of them, and they are bored to death.

Boredom seems to reign supreme in this new generation of kids.  And that is a shame.  Children of this generation – boys and girls alike – are so pre-programmed, over-scheduled, and pushed, even in the earliest months, that “spare time” is filled with a bizillion channels of cable tv, endless video games, DVD players even in the SUV, and i-pads to soak up every bit of their remaining attention.

Addictive behaviors begin early.  And so does a lack of creative initiative.  Indeed, a couple of years ago, when I was taking care of a friend’s children, her kids were excited to find Lego’s in the toy closet.  They quickly became frustrated, though, trying to follow the pre-planned instructions, and began squabbling over the pieces.  “You know,” I interrupted, “You don’t have to follow the directions.  You can make ANYTHING you want.”

“We can?” they replied, incredulous.

The next two hours flew past, each of the kids building and rebuilding the “best rocket ship ever,” and the “best fighter jet ever,” and the “best castle ever,” from the pile of tiny plastic pieces.  And they GLOWED when their mom came, so proud of what they had made.  Their faces, in turn, fell when their mom replied, “Ok, time to pick up the toys.  We need to go.”

The next time they came, the oldest child made cookies with me.  For the first time ever.
One summer in Kansas City when our girls were elementary and middle school age, we challenged them to not watch tv for the entire summer.   It was like they were released from jail.   They put on plays in the basement, they ripped up the sideyard playing with a Slip N Slide that they bought for a quarter at a garage sale, they rode bikes to the neighborhood pool, and one of them started a “mold garden” under her sink to “see what happens.”  They figured out how to sew simple things for their American Girl dolls using scraps of cloth and yarn…and much to his horror, constructed outfits for our dog Jack.  Each of the girls had “mud clothes” and an old pair of shoes for exploring the undeveloped field behind our house.  And that summer began their adventures in cooking--with recipes and without –a pursuit that continues to this day as adults in their own kitchens.
Quite frankly, they made a big mess.
And they had the time of their lives.

When the summer ended, tv wasn’t even mentioned until November.   C. S. Lewis was once asked how he developed such a vivid imagination.  He replied that he and his brother were left with large amounts of time on their hands.  Creativity took over from there.

Our oldest daughter Beth, now the mother of two small children, has a wise friend who advised her, “You have 18 summers with your kids.  That’s it.  Make the most of that time.”
So tonight, let them pitch a tent in the backyard and sleep under the stars.  Let them come up with ideas for supper…and make it.   Let them run through the sprinklers in the yard, and draw with colored chalk on the driveway, and make forts with pillows and quilts in the family room, and research and plan a family outing somewhere in, let’s say, a 100 mile radius of home.  And yea, they WILL get dirty.  They might even have so much fun you will have to throw out their clothes.  They can film their own movies or create a video scavenger hunt or play Capture the Flag at dusk.  You may even discover latent talents in them.  As a poor Brooklyn kid back in the Great Depression, my father built a miniature golf course in their tiny yard – and made money with it.  He charged a few clothes-pins a game, and then sold them back to the neighborhood moms on laundry day.

And when it comes time for your kids to write the perennial essay What I Did On My Summer Vacation, your kids will smile at the thought of it.  “You wouldn’t believe…”
Let them make it the “best summer ever.”   It’s not too late.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

That which comes up out of the ground

In our daughter's beautiful backyard, there is gradually appearing amidst the grass all manner of rocks and debris coming to the surface.  As it turns out, several years ago now, the previous owner plowed over an in-ground pool that he didn't want to fix.  

By all appearances, you would never know it existed. But now, the evidence is emerging out of the very ground.

Truth floats.

...for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.
               Matthew 10. 26

This past week, two videos have emerged that reveal deep atrocities that are a regular practice at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country. It is so unspeakable that I could only listen to a few moments before it made me nauseous. Tiny lives are not just being snuffed out, but harvested for money. I can barely even type these words.

"A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying," stated Pope John Paul II. 

I am old enough that I can remember the onset of Roe vs. Wade.  At the time, abortion was both advocated and justified as the means to make every child wanted, every woman protected, reduce child abuse, and furthermore be both safe and rare. 

We have come to a time when this long slow deception is brimming over and showing itself for what it truly is.  

With this news, the tide has turned. The world is disgusted by this grimness. My heart goes out not just to the cries of children in those grey shadows of death, but their mothers, forever haunted by it, ironically feeling that they had no other choice -- either by coercion, desperation or deception. 

And now, a deeper wounding.

When it comes down to it, we are all responsible for our own moral choices. None of us can cover up our wrongdoing for long, we cannot make up for what we have done, nor rewind the actions of our lives.

That is why God invented forgiveness.

And that is what He redeems.

In the same broadcast about the first video, the evening news concluded with a story about a 72 year old man and his wife who have fostered 29 children, adopted two, established educational scholarships, and provided adoption legal services without charge for thousands of families.  

These two stories were the bookends of the broadcast.

Both brought tears to my eyes.

While what is not true will come to the surface, so will that which is good and right.

Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.

                        Psalm 85.11

Thursday, July 23, 2015

All over everything like chocolate on a hot summer day

Even when we didn't think we were doing it, we all watched our moms.  The power of imitation is how we learned to do things. Even when we were looking the other way, even when we claimed we were not listening, moms have a sneaky way of getting through our defenses.

My mom defined kindness that way for me.

Mom was kind to everyone.  It didn't matter if she knew them or not.  We used to say that she would speak with no less respect to the girl who cleared the table at Old Country Buffet than to the Queen of England.  Poor had nothing to do with economics, but anyone in need, obvious or not.

Mom could inherently sense need in people.  She knew that some of the neediest people on earth were the ones who least appeared that way.  Loneliness, isolation, and broken hearts are readily disguised.  She also knew how it felt to be invisible, when no one even acknowledges you are there.

And so, mom traveled through her life with X-ray vision and surprising people with kindness. To the woman cleaning toilets in the restroom, she would stop and thank her for her hard work. And to a wealthy socialite at a large party, she would embrace with the same warmth, knowing that under the layers there are deep and hidden heartaches. I remember her habitually talking with housekeepers in motels when we traveled, asking about their day and their families. She took great delight in loving on people, whether she knew them or not.

In one of the last times I was with her before she passed away, we were stopped by construction workers fixing the road on a sweltering Florida afternoon.  "Here, here," she called frantically from the backseat, handing me her well-worn sun hat.  "That man has nothing to cover his head.  It is so hot outside. Please give it to him!"

Whatever she had, whenever she could.  Kindness was not something she did.  It was how she saw everything around her.

And like chocolate on a hot summer's day, kindness gets all over everyone.

No act of kindness is ever random.
No act of kindness is ever in vain.
It is intentional,
       it multiplies exponentially,
and it reverberates forever.

He who is kind to the poor
        lends to the LORD,
and He will repay him
                for his deed.

               Proverbs 19. 17

Monday, July 20, 2015

From the Earth to the Moon

Forty-six years ago today, I was just shy of my sixteenth birthday.  It was a hot humid day in Chicago. And for some reason, I had the evening off from my job.  My brothers and I took refuge in the basement where it seemed all the cool air in the house had hidden. We turned on our black and white television to see what was on. The dogs all stretched out themselves on the linoleum tile in an effort to cool off.

And suddenly on the screen was Neil Armstrong in a huge moonsuit taking bounding steps on the surface of the moon, as if an awkward dancer at a junior high party.

It was not some low budget science fiction movie. A man was walking on the moon.  "How many things have been denied one day, only to become realities the next!"  stated author Jules Verne in his novel From the Earth to the Moon, which was written remarkably in 1865.

We needed that celebration that summer of 1969 more than we could know, that ray of moonlight in a very dark year. Our country was knee deep in a miry bog of trouble and bad news on all sides.  Just a year before, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were each assassinated.  Deep tension exploded in big cities and small towns over civil rights. People marched in the streets. Sit ins and protests against the VietNam War simultaneously rocked the nation.  Even on the high school campus across the street from our house, student unrest kept everyone on edge.  The war was escalating.  My brother had just graduated from high school. What he could be doing this next year hung on a lottery that no one wanted to win.

Death dominated the headlines.  People were so afraid.  How could our country make it through this desperation?

Wandering over from the washer and dryer, my grandmother hobbled across and sat next to me.  "To think that I went from covered wagon to seeing a man walk on the moon," she declared.  This old woman had survived the pain of stillbirth, early widowhood, the Great Depression, two world wars, fifty years of rheumatoid arthritis, and not a dime to her name.

And yet, she exuded joy more than anyone I have ever known.  "Sometimes you just have to trust the LORD," she told me on more than one occasion, "even when you don't understand."  The radical hope of Christ abounded in her.

That is how she walked through desperate times to the other side.

And so, I was the one doing laundry today, now a grandmother myself, not quite as old and not hobbling as much.  I celebrate that the moon is still there, shining down every evening.  We also live in desperate times. And we will make it through this too.

The moon is just a reminder
           of who God is,
faithful and real.

Thus says the LORD,
who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon
    and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar --
            the LORD of hosts is His name.

                          Jeremiah 31. 35

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A little reminder in an unusual place

Last year at this time, our house was full of boxes as we sorted through what we wanted to move ...and what we wanted to leave behind.  Not a day went by that there was not at least one person coming to pick up a Craigslist item.  They were joyful for the bargains.  We were joyful because we did not have to move more stuff.  Win-win situation.

Everything we moved, we had to touch, because we packed it all ourselves. Some things were obvious keepers.  Some things easy to discard, like an entire box of old Christmas cards that the girls had saved at some point to make Christmas crafts.

But I got nervous the closer and closer we inched toward my desk.  Some of my writing stuff was filed and clearly marked, but there was my infamous pile of papers, clipped articles, and ideas written down on backs of envelopes, sticky notes, and even napkins.  When crunchtime came, I scooped up those papers and put them in an old backpack which I transported to our daughter's house for safe keeping in the transition.  I wanted to sift through them without the pressure of an impending move.

It has been almost a year since we packed the house, and the other day as I was searching for a notebook, I chuckled when I found a folder marked, "I dreamed my entire desk was clean."

Inside that folder was a fellowship of papers of all shapes and sizes, notes written down in my comings and goings, hurriedly scribbled on whatever piece of paper I found at the time, words that flew quickly through my thoughts.  Amidst that conglomeration of papers, my eyes were drawn to a few words inscribed on the back of an old rumpled post-it note.  This is what I saw:

"If you are not praying,
    you are not listening."

Those words stopped me in my tracks that afternoon.

God reminded me with a scrap of paper
                       in an unusual place
of the ongoing conversation
that makes the most significant difference
                    in what I do
                              and who I am.
If I want things to be different
in my life
and in my relationship with God,
                            start right here.

Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses
                         face to face,
as a man speaks to his friend.

                                    Exodus 33.11 he came down from the mountain,
Moses did not know
that the skin of his face shone
because he had been talking with God.

                                     Exodus 34. 29

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Prayer Chain

I carry my five grandchildren around my neck.  And they are not heavy at all.

It is a simple chain with five little disks with initials M H A R L, one for each grandchild's name.

It is a beautiful necklace, but I don't consider it as such.  It is my daily reminder to pray for each child by name.  It is one of my responsibilities and my joys as Gramma to pray to the LORD for these kids.

It gives a new definition to a "prayer chain."

Far be it from me,
   that I should sin against the LORD
by failing to pray for you.

                    1 Samuel 12. 23

Monday, July 13, 2015

The storm that came out of nowhere

There is a stretch of interstate highway in central Indiana that appears mundane, flanked by long flat fields with unrecognizable crops. For about twenty miles in those nondescript fields, enormous wind mills dot the landscape as far as you can see, looking like joyous little girls cartwheeling across the horizon.

I always hold my breath as I pass through the area, because this rather boring stretch has produced some horrific weather.  If I encounter any kind of storm on Interstate 65, it will be just north of Lafayette.  During the day, you can usually see it coming, thick black clouds rolling across that flat land like a train out of control.

But at night, the storms attack without warning, rising up out of nowhere.

My husband and I drove right into one of those storms, more than a year ago, a fierce and sudden blizzard, the snow moving horizontally so fast across the windshield that we could not tell if our car was moving or standing still.  It was not just that we could not see the car ahead of us, we could not even see past our own windshield.  We drove in the right lane with the passenger-side wheels on the rumble strip so that we knew we were still on the road.  We could not pull over and stop, because of other vehicles and enormous semi trucks still moving behind us and as blinded as we were.

Occasionally we would actually see another vehicle, moving in and out of our vision like a dream, and sometimes disappearing without a trace. 

Bill gripped the steering wheel.  I tried to keep breathing.

Even exit ramps were clogged and impassable with huge vehicles unable to struggle up the incline.

And so, we continued on, praying for God's shield around us on all sides.  "O LORD! Show us how to navigate this."  And as the storm intensified and that thick white wool blanket of snow smothered us, the silence of the car was interrupted by just an occasional "O LORD!"   Sometimes all you can do is pray and trust God through the storm, whatever fearful tempest might be in your life.  God will not just get you through. He will guide you through.

At one point under an overpass, a stopped semi began to back up, crushing the front of the large SUV in front of us.  And even then, our fear was not based on what we could see playing out before us, but the unknown dangers coming up behind us.

Suddenly, a rest area appeared without warning.  We pulled off the highway, the ramp marked by huge ruts in the deep snow from those who pushed through ahead of us.  And there, in the heated concrete block building that housed the rest rooms, we waited out the fury of the storm, a rag tag group of weary travelers all headed in different directions, witnessing first-hand the kind of spontaneous fellowship that always seems to emerge in times of hardship.

Coasting along it with difficulty,
we came to a place
        called Fair Havens...

                           Acts 27. 8

There will be storms.
There will be impossible situations
      hard to believe
                  and even in the midst,
                           hard to breathe.
But there will be rest areas,
           and God will put them on your path.
The way may be long and difficult,
    but He will provide havens
                             in essential places,
sometimes in surprising packages,
       an impossible sense of peace,
an encouraging word,
      a sudden awareness of His Presence,
...and the reality that I am not in control,
                   but He is.

God provides His incredible peace
                     in the middle of my day,
                     in the eye of the storm,
                     in the center of His will.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Roller coasters and other scary places

The Fireball roller coaster ride

I had three fun-loving brothers, creative in form and function. It was by the grace of God I survived childhood. But God used them, nonetheless, to teach this shy sister of theirs a lot about navigating through the scary stuff of life, the unexpected dangers and the enduring hardships. When we were young, I was always the selected partner in crime, partly as I look back on it now, so that I would share the blame, lessening the possibility of our dad killing one of them for their crazy stunts. But we made it through the harrowing turns against all odds, sometimes by the skin of our teeth. 

The stakes as a faithful sister rose a lot higher when it came to roller coasters.  When we went to the legendary Riverview amusement park in Chicago, I was the designated seatmate.  No one wanted to ride "The Bobs" roller coaster by himself. I didn't want to ride it at all. The Bobs was a old-school wooden rickety structure built in 1924. The cars literally rattled their way down the tracks. It scared me to death.  Now granted there were signs that warned, "Caution! Don't Stand Up," not even a consideration in my mind.  Seat belts did not exist in those days, but there was a metal bar in front to hold onto.

As the ride began, my older brother Bobby would turn to look at me and say, "Well, here we go.  Hold on tight!"  No instruction was needed.  My heart was already racing.

I held a death grip on that shiny metal bar, my knuckles white, my arms locked, and even my feet positioned to keep me from flying out.  I never could discern if it was worse to leave my eyes open to face the peril, or close them tight and face the unknown.  The Bobs was advertised as the most fearsome roller coaster in the country and the fastest on record.  There were only rumors that people died on this ride. But I had no desire to have my picture on the front page of the Tribune.

The train of eleven cars, hooked together, ascended a steep slope, its passengers distracted by the lights of the city, and then as it eased itself over the summit, it plunged 85 feet.  The screaming began.  And so did the prayers.

I couldn't imagine anything scarier.

The ride would come to an end.  I was somehow still alive.  And my brother would talk me into going again.

No one told me at the time that there would be a lot of scarier things in life than The Bobs.  I am glad I did not know.  God knew I would still need to breathe in those other frightful times in life -- those "You want me to do what?" places I never would have chosen, and in "I have no idea what to do" situations, when courage is scarce and all there is to hold onto is God.

Time after time, His deliverance came in packages I never expected.  And sometimes, it meant just gripping the bar and trusting God through it.  And there is nothing wrong in that.

Here we go.  Hold on tight.  Roller coasters taught me that.  And so did God.

For he held fast to the LORD;
he did not depart from following Him.
...And the LORD was with him;
wherever he went forth,
                          he prospered.

                          2 Kings 18. 6-7

God, the LORD, is my strength;
He makes my feet like hinds' feet,
He makes me tread upon my high places.

                           Habakkuk 3 19

That word "tread" is commonly defined as "to walk."  but it also can mean "to dance."  I love that verbal picture, to dance upon the high places of our lives.  Fear just makes me trust Him more.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Tools for Their Toolbox #1

"As a parent, you will not be able to be all your children need.  Life's too demanding, children are too complex, and parents are too limited....Trust God for the gaps."

                                        --Ron Hutchcraft
                                           5 Needs Your Child Must Have Met at HOME
                                           page 114-115

This quotation commences a new and occasional blog topic on intentional parenting from a Biblical worldview, including practical ideas, resources, and an encouraging word or two :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Be all there!

The reality is that we have moved a lot.  Counting  both temporary and permanent addresses, we have lived in twelve different dwellings in our thirty-five years of marriage, not including a month-long stint in a motel when I was nine-months pregnant with our fourth daughter.  I guess that would qualify all of those places as "temporary," even though we may not have known that at the time.

Indeed, in the last four places where we have lived, we thought would live out our days there.  I have since reconsidered.  Heaven is my final move. This earth is not my home.  We are all only soujourners here.

Our family could re-write Dr. Suess's book Oh, The Places You'll See and entitle it Oh, The Places You'll Be.  When I married this adventuring man, I had no idea that I was joining a nomadic tribe.

Over the years, I have heard many say, "Oh, you are just used to moving," remarked mostly from those who never wandered too far.

Never.  It's just what you do with it.

With no exceptions, God has provided all of us -- including you -- with a place He has divinely appointed.

These are their dwelling places
according to their settlements
within their borders...

                      1 Chronicles 6. 54

God has given you a designated place to be in order to bring the name of the LORD there, to be faithful to His calling whether you see His purposes fulfilled or not, however long the LORD keeps you here.

There were many places I would not have chosen to live.  "You want us to go where?"  Once, I even had to look at a map to realize where Kansas was, having only known it was one of those square states out West.  But God surprised us incredibly -- move after move --where I would have previously thought a barren wilderness.  Through every one of those reluctant moves, in some way, God gave us front row seats to His blessings there.  I have seen too much to question God in this.

My advice to those many families who will move this summer:  Don't always be looking for the next thing.  Send down roots. Join God's work there. Connect immediately with a Body of believers. Finish well this assignment, realizing it may not be for you.

And even if you already think it is a temporary rest area, get involved right away. God has strategically placed you in time and place for His immense purposes and for His glory. God may not enlarge your borders until you have fulfilled the ones you already have and have learned to trust Him on this little plot of eternity.

As missionary and martyr Jim Elliot once stated, "Wherever you are, be all there!  Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."

Faithful to God
          even here,
          even in this.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Go ahead and put on your shoes

There are days when it seems like it is mapped out already.  There are others when we don't realize it. It has become my habit to ask the LORD in the morning to lay His day before me, because even in what I think is on my schedule for the day, God brings His deeper purposes into it.

Last weekend, I dropped my husband off to go on a hike with a friend.  After they left and I chatted with my sweet friend for a few minutes, I headed out.  Even as I was driving down the big hill out of her neighborhood, I thought about going for a run in one of my favorite places.  I had my running stuff in the backseat.  I had a few hours before the men would be back.

But it is going to rain, I lamented.

You are already half-way there, another voice within me seemed to interrupt the course of my thoughts.  Don't miss out because you are afraid that it might rain.

When I came to the main road, I hesitated just a moment, and then turned, not right toward home, but left towards the park.

When I came to the first intersection in the park, I glanced at the restroom facilities. I ought to stop here and get changed, I thought.  It made sense. The restroom where my running route began was nearly always crowded.  And so I stopped quite briefly, pulling on my shorts and tank top.  As I was throwing my street clothes into the back seat, it was almost like I heard an audible instruction, "Go ahead and put on your shoes."

At this point, I felt like I was being led.  Well, you never know, I thought.  Maybe that would be a good idea to go ahead and change shoes.

It didn't make much sense, but I did it anyway.

I slipped off my sandals and into my shoes, and quickly tied the laces.  A very few moments later, I was back on the road, heading to my destination.  No time lost, I surmised.  And now, I am ready to roll.

There was not much traffic on the road, surprising as it was the Fourth of July holiday weekend.  But just two miles down the the road, I saw brake lights ahead of me.  I came to a dead stop behind a line of four or five cars in front of me, wondering what was going on.

A man ahead of me was turning around on the narrow road.  As he passed, he called out, "A tree just fell across the road."  I could only see green ahead as if the cars were being swallowed up by the huge branches.

And as I too turned around, I realized that if I hadn't stopped to tie on my shoes, that car with the tree on it would have been me.  In my openness to God's direction and my heeding His nudges, He protected me with His split second timing. Even when it didn't make sense to me at the time.

God's timing and direction are always split second.  Sometimes it doesn't seem to make sense from my perspective, but always from His.

As I drove, I wondered how many times a day, I don't even realize God's hand in it.  I don't have to choreograph the design.  I just need to trust Him in it.  My day or His?  I know which I would choose.

And so before I rush into a day's plans, I stop to pray, "O LORD, guide me into Your day for me.  Help me navigate through what is before me, even those things I will never realize."

I had not planned to run that day.  But God had a different agenda for me.  The reality was that I had not been able to run that loop for almost two years because of a foot injury.  I never thought I would be able to run it again. Not only did God provide me the opportunity to run, He allowed me to see His hand in it.

Yes, it rained.  And somehow, I didn't mind it a bit :)

Lead me, O LORD in Your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make Your way straight before me.

                             Psalm 5.8

What does God lay before each one of us today?
                  "Just follow Me."

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What beckons underneath

In this season of grandchildren, I am never surprised by where something may be hidden...and by what means it may be found.

For the past week or so, my daughter had been looking for her nursing cover.  Last night, she asked me if I had seen it at our house, which I hadn't.  Nothing obvious to me.  "If it was here," I told her, "I would have seen it."

"I guess it's just lost," she lamented after a thorough search of her house and car.

And so this morning, I decided to look again.  I glanced in the ordinary, most likely places.  And then I went another dimension deeper.  I looked behind cushions.  I went into other rooms.

Knowing the perspective of small children, many things are hidden underneath.  And so, I got down on my knees and sought under the couch, the bed, and the living room chair.  You never know what you may find when you get on your knees, sometimes things you are not even looking for.

And while I was on my knees, it occurred to me that when I am seeking, I always need to get on my knees.  Even in what is considered small and trivial, I desperately need God's perspective on it.  And when I do, God always puts something on my radar that I have not considered before.  Sometimes that "blip" on my radar is the answer, and sometimes it just leads me to another trail.

"All our fret and worry is caused by calculating without God," said Oswald Chambers in the early 1900s.  "I pray, and believe that Thou dost create something in answer to and by the very means of my prayer, that was not in existence before."

My search did not put the lost item someplace.  But it led me to it.

To make a long story short, I found the nursing cover neatly folded like a doll blanket on the rocker in the playroom, not where I would have expected it.  And isn't that the way it is?

And in the process, God reminded me that getting on my knees in prayer before Him always leads me in even more profound ways to a divine perspective that is not my own, a dimension that reveals His deeper purposes.  There are surprises underneath.  You never know what is waiting to be discovered.

How much have I missed?  Not just the answers, but God Himself.

But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God.

                                      Psalm 73. 16-17