Location, Location, Location

IMG_20190916_070458056Happy Monday! Rise and shine! OR as my mama’s family used to say, “Feet, hit the floor!” (grin) To be perfectly honest, I didn’t fully understand that last one when I was a kid. It just made me laugh. These days, I’m aware that whether or not I feel like shinin’ when I wake up, my feet still have to hit the floor for things to get accomplished and for me to make the day as good as I can make it.

“As good as we can make it,”of course, is a relative term. It doesn’t mean everything will go as desired OR as planned OR that we’ll have a party and feelings of total fulfillment at the end of the day, but today I was reminded that while we can’t always choose our circumstances, we can always choose our spiritual location. We’re always just as close to God…as we choose to be.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.” Isaiah 43:2 (NKJV)

That means even if our “location” today is a challenge for us, we are not alone. God is with us. He is ready to guide us and eager for relationship. We must make the choice to be guided and draw near if we have any hope of navigating this day in a way that honors Him and gives us the benefit of being His in ways that others can see and want to know for themselves.

Regardless of what you’re facing today, I hope you’ll choose to allow God to give you a song. Then, WHEN HE DOES, I hope you’ll choose to sing it loud and clear–and share it with those around you. While the highlighted Scripture above was a specific promise to a specific people, the principle is still the same because our God never changes. We can count on Him to be present–even when we fail to acknowledge Him!–because He has promised to never leave or forsake His people (Hebrews 13:5).

I pray that your week is a rip-roaring celebration of life and that you are fully aware of just how blessed you truly are today. If that isn’t the case (and it CAN be, regardless of whatever you’re facing!), I pray that you will take a moment and make the conscious choice to ask for God to help you see your circumstances through His eyes…and that you’ll be aware that His eyes are looking at you with love. You (yes, YOU!) matter to God and, more than you realize, you and your response to your circumstances matter to the people around you. 

“God Leads His Dear Children Along”  (lyrics by George A. Young, published 1903)

1. In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along;
Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
God leads His dear children along.

Refrain: (and THIS is what I’ve been singing this morning)
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

2. Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright,
God leads His dear children along;
Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night,
God leads His dear children along.

3. Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.

4. Away from the mire, and away from the clay,
God leads His dear children along;
Away up in glory, eternity’s day,
God leads His dear children along.

Location, location, location. Where do you find yourself today?

Grace and Peace!

Soul Music

The music collection in this house is eclectic (to say the least). We have music that takes us back to different parts of our lives and melds them all together for us even now. Everything from Kansas and Tony Bennett, Elvis and Lynard Skynard, Bonnie Rait and Ray Charles, Loretta Lynn and Joshua Bell, James Taylor and Trombone Shorty, The Drifters and Ben Rector, YoYo Ma and Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir…You get the idea. We’re just all over the place. Each day is different and requires a different sound track to go along with it.

Today, my house seems newly able to breathe again because I got a truck-load (2, actually!) of furniture removed from it yesterday–with many thanks to two fantastic guys from my church for the loading and hauling!! Actually, the house has been doing just fine; I’m the one who has had trouble breathing with so many extra things around me. Cleaning out the home of my husband’s youth has been an emotional thing, to say the least, and finding all of the family photos and the few things he has desired to keep has played a bit of havoc with my typical “one in, one out rule”–which I had already violated several times myself well before we got started on this elephantine task! (I am now contemplating a new rule: One in, Two out!–maybe 3?) ANY. WAY!  I tend to be happiest with a bit more space around me, so it felt liberating to see the house clear out a bit. As the young men pulled out of the driveway, I raced to put on some beautiful classical music. The house and I needed to celebrate! (grin)

This morning, I put in an instrumental hymn collection as I admired the extra empty spaces and fixed breakfast. Standing at the stove, thinking about what else might need to go and wondering what else we’ll find and need to deal with going forward, a single line of verse from the classic hymn that was playing struck my soul with the force of a dove. Striking hard at the concerns and yet lighting softly on my spirit came this reminder:

For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

It was just the reminder I needed. My soul NEEDED the reminder that no matter what else we face going forward, God is in control. He has a plan. The plan is for our good. I know. I say that a lot. I NEED it a lot more than I say it! My soul needs the reminder that no matter what else happens, Jesus DOES do all things well and, since He’s in charge, I can rest in Him when rest just doesn’t seem possible.

God is faithful to remind me of this truth in an amazing variety of ways that are specifically designed to get my attention. Today, He decided to use the words of a woman writer who wrote those particular words 144 years ago. Frances (Fannie) J. Crosby, according to Britannica.com,  was “blinded by infection and medical ignorance at just six weeks old,” lived through the Civil War, and still published over 8000 hymns and gospel songs over the course of her lifetime.

Blind or not, it seems to me that she saw more than most people do. She saw God…when everything around her was in upheaval and nothing felt certain but destruction–when she LITERALLY could not see what was coming or know when to brace for the next onslaught of life, she looked for and saw God. I need to do that. So do you.

Yes, to have lived a life so altered by things outside of her control and found rest in the only One capable of giving true peace…well, that’s a lesson we can all learn from Miss Fannie.

“All the way my Savior leads me” ~words by Frances J. Crosby (published 1875)

All the way my Savior leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.

And, yes, I know. “Jesus Loves Me”–the Bible tells me so…as did the music that continued to flow through the house and fill up all those empty spaces.

Will you let God fill up your empty spaces today? He loves you, too!

Grace and Peace

I decided…and you can, too.

IMG_20190906_092212433I woke up late (at 6:15A 🙄) this morning and found that my wonderful husband had packed his own lunch and gone on to work without a single complaint. His simple act of grace was much appreciated and such a blessing that I DECIDED that I would fill my day with his example. As I walked my way through my prayer list this morning and worked around the yard, I’ve been determined to make this a day when I simply gave God praise for the blessings of life.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve got to tell you that I almost didn’t make it through my prayer list. I almost slipped up and asked for something! (EEEEK!) I’m kidding of course–about the eeeek! I know that God doesn’t mind our asking for things, but my goal for the day is to just tell Him “thank you!”…so…I had to revise a couple of things as I went through my list.

For the family God placed me in and continues to bless me with, I thanked Him for His watch-care and the privilege of a Godly heritage, for strong and healthy nephews, and the gift of actually LIKING my family members. I know that is a gift many cannot claim.

For the friends who encourage my heart and keep me accountable, I praised Him for His personal touch through their counsel and told Him how glad I was for those who know Him and reflect Him in my daily life.

For the ones who have survived and and are still facing hard things, I gave God praise for the strength I see in them because I know it comes from Him.

For those dealing with difficult health issues, I gave thanks that God is our Healer and our Provider.

For the ones with difficult family issues, I told God how wonderful it was to see them love even when it is hard to do so and how proud I am that they haven’t given up when so many others would.

For the ones who have just faced the physical storms and are now facing the aftermath and cleanup from Dorian, I thanked Him for their personal safety.

For those who, like us, are dealing with the heartbreak of dementia within the minds of loved ones, I gave Him praise that we can still lift each other up and encourage each other in our shared experiences. I have become grateful that I can pray for them (for US!) with new understanding.

For the one who has just lost her father, I gave God praise for his legacy and the beautiful picture she posted of the last time they laughed together.

Along the way, I met a new-to-me neighbor, trimmed back some shrubbery and a couple of rosebushes while I thanked Him for the delightful scent of the roses and for places along the stems that aren’t covered in thorns. I also managed to liberate a VERY green frog who had gotten trapped in my rain barrel and I expressed my gratitude for clean water and the luxury of sharing it with plants in need. I found limbs that needed pruning and gave thanks for the right tools to use and the ability to drag the detritus to the fire pit out back.

IMG_20190906_102932890_HDRAs I finished my yard work and made my way to the porch, my phone rang and I rejoiced to have time for a conversation with my brother, whose great joy in getting to cut hay on his birthday made me laugh. I sat on a small pew on my porch, read through some of David’s songs of praise and allowed the wonder of having a hallowed place of my own to sweep over my spirit. I was reminded that I have a hand in MAKING a hallowed place anywhere I DECIDE to give God praise and enjoy the blessings He has provided. We are unusually blessed–and when we decide to think about it, celebrate it, and share those blessings with others around us, we can help them remember that they are, as well.

I hope you remember that and celebrate your blessings today. Feel free to share them with me so I can tell God “thank you!” on your behalf, too!

Grace and peace!