Tuesday, March 27, 2012
In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3
Each day brings a dawn, a fresh start.
A new opportunity to do something differently, to appreciate someone more than the day before.
To set our feet upon solid ground.
To get up on the right side of the bed.
Don't let me miss it, I pray.
The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
It first fit the hand of her great, great-grandmother.
Hand engraved before there were machines to do it, vintage script reads "Norman to Marie 1898". This simple band of gold saw the turn of the 1800's into the 20th Century.
Queen Victoria sat on the throne, wielding her broad influence in fashion and furnishings with unprecedented longevity. Here in the U.S., President William McKinley faced unrest at home with the Spanish American War, economic challenges, and inherited problems from a still-smarting division of a nation lingering from the American Civil War. Some things never change.
Living, breathing men and women created that history we only read about in books. Those in our family tree had their hands full making a living the best they could, I imagine.
Marie wore this ring as Victorian gave way to Edwardian. She made her life raising three children in Alabama and Mississippi. Her large, capable hands must have worked hard in those days before dishwashers and automation. I see whitewash on the old home place in the photo we have, and I remember whitewash comes only after moving up in the world. There was no extra paint to spare in those days.
Her youngest child, Minnie, came to possess the ring, who passed it on to her only child, who gave it to his son.
This is where I -- though only for a fleeting moment -- come in, if you'll permit this point of personal reflection.
My husband, upon our marriage in 1982, wanted to wear this ring of his paternal great-grandmother. We had it engraved in the only space left to reflect our initials and date. I still see his tan hands wearing this ring in my mind's eye, though time does a number on us and has its way of enlarging joints. As time moves on, so do we in a manner of speaking. I have outgrown my wedding ring size too.
He is sporting another substitute band that fits now, and our youngest child chooses to wear this family ring daily, along with my too-small ring my groom placed on my finger on this day years ago.
Thirty years ago today to be exact.
She wears them as a reminder of a love that promises to endure.
When we pass along truth to another generation, it is difficult to know what will really last and what will be like chaff in the wind in their own times. Fierce winds blow now. I feel it all around.
I pray this ring will remind her that Love does not love 'as long as I feel like I love you'.
It does not love 'until a better offer comes along'...nor does it love as long as its needs are met.
Love -- we have learned and are still learning every day -- is an act of the will: Love is not a feeling; Love is something you do. Do the things love does.
We learned this from our friend and pastor, Dr. Maxie Dunnam, in our early years of marriage and have drawn from that fount of wisdom many times over the years.
We have needed the reminder too many times to count.
Just this week my husband brought home a book, LOVE is Something You Do, by John R. Bisagno. In the center of the book - half-way through exactly -- stands a chapter on the mid-life crisis. Read from this, all who think they are too young to be affected and those who believe it's too late, I urge, because it is never too late to do the right thing if given the opportunity.
We might be squarely at middle age -- who is to say? -- but this chapter has some nuggets I'd like to share, mixed with my own thoughts.
We need its common sense and wisdom, as this commodity is not so common anymore. Perhaps it was prevalent in 1898, but our social context today has an overlay that is "all about me."
Can we do anything to keep the mid-life crisis from eroding a marriage?
1. Rejoice in the stage you are in right now. Mid-life has many reminders of fleeting youth and attractiveness. Some grasp desperately to cling to virility and desirability as they see it. When we learn to accept with grace whatever stage we are in, we do well.
2.Seek out wisdom and learn from Godly people, not just from those who support what you want to do; that's the easy way out.
3.Remember there is no perfect marriage. Ours will not be either.
4. Counteract the allure of the affair. Face up to what you have to lose.
5. Stop rationalizing. Those excuses are the voice of the tempter.
6. Face the facts. Do not compromise your honesty.
7. Follow the Biblical prescription: Repent. Remember your first love. Do the first works. This is what Jesus said in Rev. 3 to his bride, the Church, who had forsaken him.
For those who do not successfully navigate the mid-life (or early-life or late-life) challenges of marriage, know that God's grace is sufficient for us.
There are so many who are suffering the heartbreak of a divorce that they did not seek and do not want. I wish to be able to bring more healing and wholeness, and humbly show the way to the only Way I know to receive reconciliation and forgiveness and grace for the rest of the journey. This, too, we try to pass on from one generation to the next so that each will be equipped for the challenges of a new day.
From 1898 to 1982 to 2012 and for each day thereafter.....bread for the journey!
(and, yes, I know that merely by posting this reflection, I am setting myself up for increased challenges/frustration/temptation -- whatever you might call it -- on the homefront. I believe that is a price we pay when we take such a stand. It's nothing new. I pray to be faithful and not give a foothold to that avenue of attack. )
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Sometimes we find ourselves in a bit over our head.
Sink or swim time.
We wonder if we are at the end of our resources.
It keeps happening through our life stages. Can we make it through successfully? Can we trust ourselves or others to get us to the other side?
Tasks viewed from a distance may not appear as large or as daunting as they do once they come upon us. Once the time is up and the date is at hand, we can panic. Are we really ready? Have we done enough to prepare for the big jobs looming on the horizon? Can we do this?
It helps to have those in our lives who believe in us.
Those who give us a challenge then help us rise to it.
They teach us, "You can do this. You've done it before. Do not be afraid."
Stitch-by-loving -- or painstaking -- stitch, we tackle the big job.
Step by step we teach ourselves that we can do hard things.
I think of this as the soundtrack of life --the tapes that play inside the heart and mind encouraging us along the way. This score helps us overcome the fears that threaten to weaken our resolve when we face big challenges as well as unexpected interruptions to our plans.
What plays when our mind is idling? What is the music our hearts remember?
Green Converse shoes remind me of the example of one who keeps pushing himself beyond what he is able to accomplish easily and into that zone of discomfort time and time again. He may not know how much I admire his tenacity, his sure-footedness, his ability to live standing on the Promises of God.
I must be sure he knows.
I have seen his gifts offered as a blessing in service to God and others, and I give thanks for all the times he did not stop when it was hard. When he did not give up when the task seemed impossible. When he must have thought he was out of time and talent. Spent. Used up.
And yet, he persevered.
Because, when we come to the end of our rope, God is able. His resources are without number, and his tanks are never empty. He is our All is All.
You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all....
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”—2 Corinthians 9:8
And even if you do not have one who has played a melody of courage, fortitude, love and grace in your life, you and I have a Heavenly Father who still speaks to our hearts: You are my beloved. I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly. Come unto me and I will give you rest. Cast your cares upon me.
At all times.
Having all that you need....
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Today I met Lori who is just passing through our lives, she might say. She reminds me that when we pray for opportunities for ministry, we need not be surprised that God provides people in our path.
Today was such a day.
Lori shared with us about her courageous step on the journey to find safety and a healthy environment for herself and her son. We tried to help meet some physical needs and offered heartfelt prayers for her.
I feel an unsettling gratitude for the simple blessings of this sunny day: getting into a car and driving home without fear of who will be there or what he will do. Of having a quick lunch of hummus and boiled eggs out of my refrigerator. Mundane. But I do not worry if I can find something to eat at home.
I feel a sting upon entering a closet of too much clutter and more than I need, after rummaging through other people's donated black garbage bags to find some clothes for Lori and her son at the church because they left home under cloak of night and only took what they could put in the car. She is not used to getting her clothes from black bags.
My throat feels tight.
Tears well up again.
Psalm 25:4 “ O Lord; point out the road for me to follow.”
I pray it again for her and for each of us because it could be any one of us on that road today seeking safe passage. Our life choices have far-reaching consequences, do they not? It takes courage to break out of the cycle of abuse and stop the madness for the next generation. May God bless her and the millions who cower in fear and have nowhere to go. She still has hundreds of miles to go. And I will not forget her.
O Lord; point out the road for us to follow.