Are you a God-kept wonder?

When each earthly prop gives under,

And life seems a restless sea,

Are you then a God-kept wonder,

Satisfied and calm and free?       ~from Streams in the Desert

 

I’ve been taking my own determination to make this a year—or a life!—of returning to the basics very seriously. I’ve been making conscious decisions to stay in the moment and savor the small things. Jim Elliot’s quote, “Wherever you are, be all there!” resonates with me constantly and has become my own daily personal goal as I settle into this new life here in Georgia.

I’ve been more intentional about pursuing the heart of God and being cognizant of His Presence in all the moments that make up the life-time. Returning to the consistent reading of Psalms and Proverbs has sharpened my appetite for praise and my desire to be wiser in using the time God chooses to give to me. Additionally, I’ve also been re-reading Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman—the very first devotional book I used when I first moved to Georgia after grad school over 24 years ago.

I love this little book with its collection of thoughts and daily challenges written in words that sound more than a bit archaic in tone and structure and attitude when compared to our more modern way of talking and our cultural mandates of situational ethics and personal advancement whatever the cost. The small poetry snippet above is the antithesis of such “modern” thinking and reminds me that regardless of what I face throughout the day—or year—or life!—I AM a God-kept wonder when I resist the urges to ‘have it all my way’ or just have it all now and focus on resting in Him regardless of situation, instead.

Practically, I’ve been keeping busy with tax-prep made more challenging this year by having to locate items in new places and search through paperwork “organized” in bags that make me wonder where my brain was when I put them there. We’ve been blessed with an abundance of guests who have honored our home and brought joy to our spirits with their familiar faces in this new place. There has been much to do and I’ve been pleased as punch to do it because I am so aware that this is where God has placed us…on purpose…for HIS purpose.

While I wait for some of that purpose to become more evident, I’m enjoying the conversations of the hoot owls as I sit on my back porch in the early (really early!) mornings and I’ve been savoring the fresh tomatoes that the produce man at the local farmer’s market located somewhere that already have the flavor of late summer here in the early spring.  I’m growing accustomed to living on Eastern Time instead of Central Standard and I’ve been waging a battle to keep my porch bird-nest free. (That is one determined little bird!)  I’ve been raking pine straw and picking up sticks and being amazed all over again at the amount of pollen in a Southern spring—all the while reveling in the bloom of forsythia, daffodils, tulip trees and dogwood right here in my own little yard.  I’ve been changing sheets and readying guest rooms for the family that was here last week and those who will arrive this weekend—including the cousin who (just one year ago!) fell 3 stories on a job site and wasn’t supposed to survive, but has become one of those God-kept wonders and is planning a trip to Disney shortly!

I haven’t written much lately because I’ve been too busy learning…and you have to learn before you can share. I hope and pray that you are busy learning, too; that your lessons are easy ones and, if not, that you will find yourself being a God-kept wonder where you are.  In the meantime, I hope you’re loving God with all your heart and savoring the glories of the day.

Grace & Peace!

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The Cure

There are days when the news isn’t good and the updates don’t show improvement…days when it hurts to hear more and it is somehow worse because it isn’t happening to you, but to those you love…and you can’t fix it.  There are days when your prayers don’t seem to rise past the ceiling, but continue to echo around the room and fill your head and your heart with the agony of the wait.

Those days hurt.  They are just awful…and they’re part of life.

They’re part of life whether or not you have faith and although they seem difficult when you DO have faith, I can’t imagine life if you don’t.  I don’t want to imagine it because that would only add to the pile–and right now, the pile is high enough.

I’ve been trying to “make up for lost time” and it hasn’t been working very well.  Hard target dates loom ahead and it doesn’t matter what you’re facing or what you’ve been through, they’re still coming and I’m simply not ready for them yet.  Some of them are for good things, but when you’re feeling under pressure even the good things can be a bit overwhelming.  The phone rings and it is more hard news…

All these things and more are running laps in my head and I can actually feel my blood pressure rise despite my best efforts.  They interfere with sleep and I am frustrated anew.

I grab my copy of the Word and I dive in.  I sink into the Psalms and I am reminded that I am not alone.  I am far from the first to feel these pressures and need the solace of God Himself.  It’s not so much that misery loves company—I’m too blessed to be miserable, but I am overwhelmed by life and I am incredibly grateful to walk in the path of David and friends who have felt these same emotions and gone to their knees–and on their faces!–before the only One who can change any of these situations.  Better than that, I am aware that I am before the only One who can truly change me in the situations…and it is increasingly obvious that I am one who needs changing.

In His Word I am caught by the words of others and transported past all the things I don’t know into the Presence of the One who knows me best.  It is a journey I desperately need.  It is one I must take…MUST take…this is no leisurely stroll through the garden.  It is a head-long plunge into the deep.  Gasping and fighting for breath—for life—I grab hold of His hand and His word fills me.

I begin to calm.  It is not yet complete, but it is enough.

Inhale:  “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him. The help of my countenance and my God.” (Psalm 45:5)  Be with them, Father!  Cover them with Your presence and heal them–in every way possible.  Thank You for being our Help and our God!

Exhale:  “…Because he is your Lord, worship Him.” (Psalm 45:14b)  Thank you, God, for being everything I need–everything they need.  You alone are holy and righteous.  You alone have the power of life and strength.

Inhale:  “…When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me…You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name…” (Psalm 61:2b, 5b)  Thank You, Father, that You are my shelter and that You have, indeed, given me a heritage of those who fear Your name and serve You!

Exhale:  “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.”  (Psalm 147:3-4)  Thank You, Father, for Your watchcare over us and for being a God who knows all of His creation by name!

Inhale.  Exhale.  Repeat.

Over and over I read the lament and I see the Cure.  Over and over I cry out the lament and I receive the Cure.  He is faithful and I am His.  It is enough.

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalm 139:16 (NLT, 2007)

Becky Childs and the day that rivaled Alexander’s…

Have you ever just had a day?  One where nothing was where it was supposed to be?  One where the computer wasn’t cooperating and the phone call you were hoping for didn’t come, but the emails you got had bad news and your head just wouldn’t stop hurting?  One where it seemed like everything was falling apart and there was absolutely nothing you could do about it?  Me, too.

Actually, it was yesterday.  No, it wasn’t the end of the world and yes, part of it may have been a mistake—it hasn’t all been resolved yet, so perhaps I was bit more agitated since I had to wait…and I’ve never been really good at waiting.  Either way, at the end of the day, there was really nothing I wanted more than to just be home and not leave again for awhile.  That wasn’t an option, so what did I do?  Read.

I love reading.  It can take me away from the difficult situations and the people who inhabit or create them and allow me to interact with brilliant people who have it all figured out…by the end of the book, anyway.

Well, not always…sometimes it just helps to read the writings of someone else who knows a bit about a difficult day.  I didn’t have a copy of Judith Viorst’s Alexander and the Terrible , Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day with me, but I did have my Bible handy, so I chose to read portions of the Psalms.  After reading through the ragings and the anguish and the joyous celebrations of King David and company, my day didn’t seem quite so bad after all.

I really needed the following reminders so, just in case you’re also having a ‘day’ today, I want to share some of the ones that made the biggest change in my perspective last night:

  • “When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”  Psalm 61:2b (Thank you, God, that when I am at the end of my limits, YOU are not even close to the end of Yours!)
  •  “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret—it only causes harm.” Psalm 37:8 (Thanks for the reminder that my immediate reactions aren’t the end of it—You have provided a better plan for me that doesn’t include anger or worry.)
  •  “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”  Psalm 141:3 (Thank You for being in control of my mouth and keeping my words under Your control!  Perhaps the wait was a good idea after all.)
  • “Be my strong habitation, to which I resort continually…I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more.  My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day, for I do not know their limits.  I will go in the strength of the Lord God…”  Psalm 71: 3a and 14-16a. (Thank You, again, for always being my place of refuge and for granting me hope the ability to praise You…along with strength for tomorrow…when I will need You even more!)
  • “Because He is your Lord, worship Him.”  Psalm 45:11b (That’s really what it all boils down to, isn’t it?  Because He is Lord, it is my job to worship him…even at the end of a very difficult day.)