We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Tug-of-War Between Dread and Trust

So, what are you looking forward to this year? A long-planned vacation? A family reunion? A conference or get-away weekend?  Spring?! I have a few things I'm anticipating. Visits with my grandboys--and their parents! Planting a variety of veggies in our new lasagna garden we prepared in the fall. Attending the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. Oh! And I have a book coming out in early September.

On the other hand, are you dreading some things coming up? 

I'll be honest with you. I find myself dreading quite a list of things. Things like filling out the FAFSA, a necessary form for my daughter to attend college. Or, figuring out what to do when my crawlspace is suddenly taking on water. Or, tackling the paperwork to obtain another year of health insurance. I find myself a little fearful and anxious about travel and health issues and even maintaining the house long-term.

I'm learning that dread and trust are at opposite ends of the spectrum. If I'm dreading, I'm not trusting the God who promises to walk beside me and be my refuge and strength through both the big and little challenges.

I'm not alone in this tug-of-war between dread and trust. Way back in the days when the Hebrew people found themselves on the brink of the Promised Land, Moses spoke these words, "Dread not, neither be afraid . . . Yet in spite of this word [the people] did not believe (trust, rely on, and remain steadfast to) the Lord [their] God" (Deuteronomy 1:29, 32, The Amplified Bible). They wandered around in the wilderness for forty years before enjoying the blessings God had planned for them.

Lately, I've been challenged by the apostle John's words to "practice the truth" (1 John 1:6). The truth that God invites us to come to the throne of grace to ask for wisdom. The truth that He will never leave us or forsake us. The truth that He has a purposeful plan for my life and will guide me every step of the way. He invites us to trust Him.

With God's grace (and the help of the accountant), the FAFSA and health insurance paperwork are complete. Throughout the past months, over and over, God has given me every reason to trust Him. These serve as monuments to help me remember the truth the next time my stomach knots up and I find myself dreading instead of trusting. 

Dread not. Neither be afraid. 

Photos from Google Images.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Going Green

We do a lot of recycling in our house: paper, cardboard, glass bottles and jars, tin cans, plastic . . . Some weeks the lid to the recycle bin barely closes, especially if I've been cleaning out. Which, as I mentioned in my last post, I feel driven to do this time of year. I cleaned out the end table drawers, the kitchen closet, dresser drawers, and the linen closet. And I'm still going through Barry's papers and notes. I don't keep them all, but I want to touch every paper. I still can't get over how many subject areas he studied.

Sometime in the late eighties and early nineties, Barry served on the committee to begin the recycling drive in our community. We still try to conserve and go green as much as possible by recycling, composting, and opting for more natural materials and less packaging.

The other day I ran across an ancient text where the color "green" caught my attention:
[Most] blessed is the man who believes in, trusts in, and relies on the Lord, and whose hope and confidence the Lord is.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be GREEN. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, not shall it cease yielding fruit.*
In some ways, this season of my life could be characterized as "the year of drought," a year of firsts, of change, of learning to manage on my own, of handling everything from crawlspace issues to cars to single parenting. Maybe you can identify. Not that we haven't experienced many wonderful blessings, yet how easy to succumb to the "fear" and "heat" of daily adjustments and to "be anxious and full of care," resulting in a life void of the fruits of joy and peace.
I want to be like a tree with green leaves even in the dry times. Don't you? I'm learning that going green in this sense has a lot to do with trust. Confidence and hope in the Lord. Believing and relying on Him. And somehow God takes our loss and recycles it into compassion, sensitivity, and a stronger connection to the One who demonstrates His faithfulness in every circumstance.

So, the next time you put something into the recycle bin, remember that going green means more than salvaging paper, plastic, and glass. It has a lot to do with trusting God to write our stories in times of abundance and drought.
*Jeremiah 17:7, 8, The Amplified Bible

Monday, January 4, 2016

To Begin Again . . .

We made it through another holiday. 

I didn't know how this Christmas would be for me and the girls since Barry passed away in May. I have to admit, it proved harder than I thought . . . hanging the "Our First Christmas" ornament on the tree, shopping and wrapping alone, seeing the empty recliner on Christmas morning. BUT we did okay. We laughed. We sang. We stayed up too late. I love these five-star kids of mine--three daughters, a son-in-law, and two grandboys. 

I spent today cleaning out drawers and a closet. It's my way to unwind, to reflect and plan. One lingering Christmas thought keeps coming to mind. Maybe it's what I need to take a deep breath and begin again.

It's typical to remember Mary as the promised virgin, the mother of the Messiah. Can you imagine the responsibility of mothering this baby? This toddler? This young son? I can't fathom what it must have felt like to lose track of the twelve-year-old Son of God! And then to see Him grow into a man, the God-man, who had an agenda even Mary didn't always understand. 

This year I received a Christmas letter from a friend who lost her husband to cancer about a month before Barry passed away. Cherie's letter resonated with me:  "Do we give much thought to Mary, the widow? Jesus was 33 years old when He died. but first, He took care of the needs of His widowed mother. He turned His mother over to the care of John. . . . who took care of Mary as if she was his own mother." 
Losing a husband as dedicated and caring as Joseph must have dealt a hard blow to the woman who pondered so much in her heart. Did Joseph die before their children reached adulthood? Was Mary a single mom?

After Jesus' resurrection, we find her and her other sons among Jesus' followers in the upper room. She was present when another apostle was chosen to take the place of Judas Iscariot, when Peter preached his first sermon, and when the Holy Spirit came. Later, when great persecution came to the believers in Jerusalem, was she among those who scattered or did she stay? We don't know.

Whatever the case, she chose to number herself with those who believed her Son to be the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). She stayed involved. She stood for the truth. She exhibited faithfulness.

What a wonderful example as we begin 2016. I want to be involved, to be faithful, don't you? 

Photos from google images.