missing pieces & the weaver

puzzleHave you ever worked a jigsaw puzzle for days (maybe weeks?), painstakingly looking for patterns in the gray-nothing areas, struggling over some strategic places that just didn’t seem to have anything that fits…only to complete the puzzle and find there were actually missing pieces?

That was me with this puzzle.  While purchasing some puzzles for the Grands, this one jumped off the shelf because it was reminded me of the first car I owned – a ’65 Mustang.  I purchased it and looked forward to keeping my hands busy with this while The Hubby was travelling during July and the summer nights kept me indoors.

After 10-12 nights of working on it, one night the puzzle was complete.  Well, not quite.  There were two glaring holes from missing pieces,  black holes that made the cars seem as if they had dented fenders and broken windshields.  Not the finished product I had hoped for!  For a few days, I searched under sofas and checked in all the places these two missing pieces might have hidden.  About a week later, I realized this was as finished as it would ever be.  There were a few options for me at this point:

  1. Blame the company who manufactured the puzzle for a faulty product.
  2. Shame myself or someone else for losing the pieces.
  3. Begin to view the picture as Finished and see the beauty in it.

I was somewhere between #2 and #3 when I realized how this applies to each one of us.

We all have missing pieces in our lives that shows the world a big picture of who we are. Some of those pieces were missing at birth, some were taken from us, and some holes have been created by our own doing.  But the Master Designer sees the beauty in the overall finished work.  I was convicted and reminded of a favorite poem, that tells it well:

THE WEAVER
________________ ________________
B.M. Franklin
(1882-1965)

My life is just a weaving
Between my Lord and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaves so skillfully.

Sometimes He weaveth sorrow
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ‘til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And explain the reasons why-

The dark threads are as needful,
In The Weaver’s skillful hands
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

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getting back to Eve

glory“I picture Eve being just like that mustang.  I imagine that she lived in a very pure and wild state, secure in who she was and confident in her purpose.  I imagine her looking God full in the face, smiling because she knows she is right where she was always meant to be. In my mind’s eye, she laughs with Adam, and she isn’t afraid to ask questions since everything is so new and she is so incredibly safe.”  

Jess Connolly, Wild and Free

Processing thoughts from my favorite new book, by my favorite new author.  Ok, so she happens to be one of my daughters – that just magnifies the reading a bit.

As a group of us gathered on the beach this past week, we were talking through this point and wondering where we got off track.  When did we quit dreaming with a wild and free spirit?  When did we put limits on our God – the One who placed each star in the sky?

The book was our starting point to talk about expectations and how we perform to meet the world’s standards, but the crashing waves & salty air pushed us past fears & safety to explore what it means to dream Free of limits and to live Wild and set apart.
One in the group pushed us forward with the reminder that God has greater dreams for us than we can even imagine:

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” 1 Corinthians 2:9

What about you?  Are you dreaming Dreams big enough for a God who has prepared big things for you?  Are you secure in being His daughter?  If not, press into these words and see what He has to say.

beach

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Eliza and me and Isaiah 43

  Sometimes when I walk these roads, I wonder what the women before me were thinking as they walked this avenue of oaks. 

I pretend for a moment that I’m Eliza Lucas Pinckney, who lived in the 1700s and managed several plantations after her husband died of malaria. 

Eliza was a very enterprising woman, changing agriculture in SC by introducing indigo crops. But she was also raising 3 incredible children who would each have impact in their worlds. I know she considered this role most important, from letters in her biography. 

“to make a good wife to my dear Husband in all its several branches; to make all my actions Correspond with that sincere love and Duty I bear him… I am resolved to be a good mother to my children, to pray for them, to set them good examples, to give them good advice, to be careful both of their souls and bodies, to watch over their tender minds.”

So as I amble through these mighty oaks, I wonder which scriptures were dear to Eliza. That is the most beautiful thing about God’s Word.  It never changes. 

My circumstances and life are so very different from Eliza’s. She didn’t have the threat of terrorists to pray through.  But she lived through wars and savage times. She didn’t have to fast from social media, but she had to have enough candlelight (and energy) to pen her letters and journals at night. She didn’t have traffic jams and drop off lines, but she probably had weary bones from traveling on horseback. 

So as I hear the wind whisper through these oaks, I can almost hear Eliza reciting Isaiah 43 in the same way that promise brings me strength:

“But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. ”. ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

And I can hear God whispering back to her: “Well done, Eliza.  Good and faithful servant.”

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Gratitude vs Ebenezers

I can remember the moment like it was yesterday, though it was 5 years ago.

I was in the middle of a Beth Moore study called “Breaking Free”, sitting around the table with five women.  In the video, Beth asked “What if there was one thing God is asking you to give up, in order to move to another level?”

I knew immediately what that one thing was for me.  And the idea of giving it up scared, angered and excited me all at once.  For me, that one thing was giving up drinking wine. This one simple decision had the potential to change my social life, my friendships and even my marriage.  But I knew it was more than a whisper from God.

Back story: my Father was an alcoholic and I saw – and felt – many of the harmful impacts his addiction had on us.  Also, as a result of the abuse to his body, he died at the age of 64. Over the years, The Hubby and I had several times when we stepped away from mixed drinks, all alcoholic drinks for a season and at this point – drank only beer and wine.  I always observed The Hubby – and others – drink in moderation.  But not me.

So on this night during bible study, I made a decision to break the chain of generational sin.  I won’t tell you that it was easy, but with my family supporting me and the Lord directing me, it  has been life-changing.

I’m happy to talk with anyone who is struggling in the same area, but the power is not in the specific Best Yes, but in marking times and decisions in our life when God’s help led us to victory.

In 1 Samuel 7, the prophet Samuel and the Israelites found themselves under attack by the Philistines. Fearing for their lives, the Israelites begged Samuel to pray for them in their impending battle. Samuel offered a sacrifice to God and prayed for His protection. God listened to Samuel, causing the Philistines to lose the battle and retreat back to their own territory. After the Israelite victory, the Bible records: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us’  (1 Samuel 7:12).

What are the markers – or ebenezers – in your life?  This month, instead of just listing things we are grateful for or reciting a laundry list of blessings, let’s define those ebenezers and set up a stone.  Maybe even create one?

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I remember Momma…and the lesson of friendliness.

nana 014I stumbled across this journal entry a few days ago and thought it was worth sharing. For all of you who are still caring for aging parents, and for those will care for us in the future…

May 2013

Being with Momma in the hospital has been quite the lesson.  Lessons in grace, lessons in living and lessons in love.  We’ve always teased that my mother never met a stranger. It was embarrassing at times in years past as she exuberantly danced through life without all the presumptions of appearing foolish or awkward.  Now it’s just refreshing and worth asking:  When did I start to feel that way?

Her free spirit and love of life first embarrassed me at 13, when we were at the beach with extended family.  Eating lunch at a Hardees in Georgetown, my mother and Aunt Dot decided to have a picnic on the sidewalk. It was 98 degrees, but cousin Pam and I opted to eat in the car rather than be seen with our maternal crazies.

Later in life, Mother would talk to everyone she met. In the doctors office waiting room, the bank lines or someone just passing by her table.  She shared about our marriages, our children and grandchildren, our careers and sometimes our hopes and dreams.

Mother was so proud of our accomplishments – whether it was Tyler’s baseball scholarship or Jessi’s gift of mothering. But she was also very interested in the people around her.

As evidenced by these hospital antics:

  • The ambulance driver became an instant friend on the first trip, and he was almost excited to see her on the second trip.
  • The cafeteria food delivery woman became the subject of praise from mother about her beautiful hair…only for the woman to smile and reveal her secret…a wig!
  • Upon checking into ICU, I was a little frantic until mother quickly turned it around with “look at the five new friends I have!”

Maybe I can learn from her exuberance, her abundant living and stretch my introvert self just a little more in her direction.

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simplify

simplify3This word  – Simplify – is not one that comes to mind as we’re rushing headlong towards the holidays, is it? But it is the word our Sisterhood Team heard from the Lord for this year and it seems like a perfect time for us to have a refresher course.

As only the Lord can do, He confirmed this Word to me after my mission trip to Togo in July.  Many of you know that I’ve been on a journey to find and create more margin in my schedule.  I’ve taught classes on it, coached other women and feel as if most weeks – this margin gives me the work-life balance I’ve always needed.  But after Togo, I realized:  “Margin is not for Me – it is for ministry or mission”  In other words, the Lord didn’t want me to create Margin to have  blank space on my calendar.  But by creating space, I had been free to make hospital visits, take a meal to someone, or go on mission to Africa.

Then I started reading Bill Hybel’s book by the same name:  SIMPLIFY

His words resonated strongly, especially as he gave the Hybels spin on the passage about Mary and Martha.  It was like Martha had worked herself into a frenzy, trying to prepare food and be the perfect hostess – when all Jesus wanted was time with his closest friends.  He chose their house, after Bethany, because he knew it would refresh and renew him.  Then he was presented with Martha worked into a frenzy (and irritated with her sister for not helping) probably waving a wooden spoon and saying “Lord, don’t you care?”

Jesus could have lectured her, could have guilted her about how much he really DID care, but instead he just answers with “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. “  what he was saying is:

“whenever I stop by, it’s not for the food.  If I wanted a five-star dinner, I could arrange for it.  I just fed five thousand people a week ago.  And I made some awesome chardonnay at a wedding reception once.  When I stop by, it’s for friendship, for connection, to be with you.”

What he said was “Few things are needed – indeed only one.”  Jesus was setting the tone for what he wanted:  unrushed, unhurried, relationship.

So we live in a different day and age right?  It’s complicated.  We live in a complicated culture.

But if Jesus desires only one thing, that sounds pretty simple, right?

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repentance and muscles

We hear a lot about Repentance, especially in a sermon or a message.  We know that repentance means ‘to turn’.  Specifically, Wikipedia defines it this way:

Repentance is the activity of reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs. It generally involves a commitment to personal change and the resolve to live a more responsible and humane life.

Usually my acts of repentance involve denying self.  The challenge for me, in denying self, is that we usually don’t establish disciplines on how to do this.  We just know that it’s the right thing to do.

For example, to deny myself certain foods, I have to control my diet, think about my choices, and as a result – it strengthens my muscle of denying self as related to appetite.

So for other areas of denying self – i.e. loving and serving others – I need a steady diet of choosing the needs of others before myself – before the muscle is strengthened and the choices become more reflexive.  Not driven by guilt or burden, but by that discipline that knows: ‘This will be good for me because it’s how God made me.”

After the “Like a Good Neighbor” series, The Hubby and I felt conviction and wanted to repent.  We’ve had great intentions about loving our neighbors, but little follow through.

So last week, we pushed past some selfish desires (mostly on my part) and invited our neighbors over on Friday night.  As an Introvert, days off for me usually require alone time and little entertaining, in order to recharge.  But I knew this was God’s prompting, and so we put the invitation out there.

Our evening was lovely.  Delightful.  Relaxing and even Re-charging!  We finally got  to know our neighbors more in-depth than just our usual Hello on the sidewalk or Wave as we grab the mail.  And while I’d like to say this muscle of self-denial is strong and will respond well the next time it’s stretched, I’m sure I’ll need a few more regular workouts before the actions are reflexive.  What muscles is God stretching in you?

 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.  Romans 7:15-20

muscles

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