Tag Archives: Grace

When Church Doesn’t Feel Safe

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When Church Doesn’t Feel Safe

We tucked ourselves into a row of seats near the back and as we did the anxiety that had begun when we drove into the parking lot swelled. Tears threatened. I gripped my husband’s shaking hand. I knew his heart was racing as his breaths shortened. Fear threatened to overwhelm me.

We were at church.

All around us people chatted in small groups, occasionally looking across the room with a broad smile and extending a wave as they recognized friends or acknowledged visitors. There was an air of excitement as the music started and people began to find seats.

It had not always been this way, but we were in the grips of trauma-induced stress and anxiety. As much as we felt compelled to be there, we couldn’t do it.

We quietly slipped out, gathered our children from the nursery with a flimsy excuse and retreated to the safety and security of home.

The above story is like one recently shared with me. I was overwhelmed with compassion for these dear people.

In the next few days I heard a worship leader say that “we” are the church. It’s not the building that makes church “church” – it is the redeemed of God. 1 Corinthians 12:27 confirms it:

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it.

“You are the church, baby girl. Go to them.”

God didn’t speak to me in bullet points, but I think he’s okay with me using them as I share. These are some of the clear instructions he spoke:

  • Invite them into the sanctuary of your home. Break bread and share a cup in remembrance of Me.
  • Be the hands and feet of Jesus. Encourage them with the Word; be honest but don’t you ever put shame on them.
  • Be extravagant in your expressions of love. Use that spiritual gift I gave you for a time like this.

As I pondered and prayed these last few days, He’s also reminded me that wherever I go, I’m taking the church with me. Whether I’m carving pumpkins in a friend’s driveway, visiting a friend in the hospital or listening carefully as a colleague explains a process, I am bringing the Body of Christ to people.

The pastor of our church often encourages us with the promise that if we get our family and friends into the pews he will make sure they hear the Gospel. That’s his job on Sunday, but he has never met my friends who gather as the sun sets over the lake; he doesn’t interact with the porter in my building at work and he couldn’t tell you my neighbors’ or even my children’s names.

They are my friends, neighbors and family; they sell me groceries, postage stamps and iced coffee.

Jesus said “’Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself. These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s law hangs from them.”[1]

The best part of being a spirit-filled believer today is that he has made our hearts his dwelling place. We are the church – let’s go be the church to the people who are too scarred and scared to show up to the building. Love him, love them. Love always.

Loving by His grace,

lorraine

 

[1] Matthew 22:37-40 The Message

Stuffing is for Turkeys and Taxidermy

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Stuffing is for Turkeys and Taxidermy

She leads a launch team that I’m part of and on that day, she delivered some unwelcome news; many people in the group would not receive a physical advance copy of the book.

I made the cut, so I was reading the complaints and expressions of disappointment with little empathy.

I sent a text to the leader, hoping to offer a word of encouragement, assuming the comments were discouraging her yet impressed by the way she was extending grace to the “complainers”.

“You are such a great team leader. You are managing these poor, bitter people well.”

In hindsight, I see my self-righteousness (hypocritical as it was) in that second sentence. She replied within minutes, so kind, but her statement set me back on my heels.

“It’s okay to experience and express disappointment.”

I recalled that I had surveyed that list of paper copies and was very relieved to find my name. On the other hand, there was another list, for one of my favorite authors, and I didn’t “make the cut”. I internally decided I didn’t have time to promote a book that I wouldn’t get to read before launch.

Honestly, I had to acknowledge I was nursing a splinter of bitterness, disappointed that I wasn’t chosen. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve thought about my reaction and her statement frequently.

I’ve discovered something to be true in my judgement of others. Every single time, the thing I’m most critical of in others is my struggle as well. Perhaps that is why the Bible says in Matthew 7:3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” In my experience, their splinter is from the same “wood” as my log.

In this exchange my friend short-circuited my judgement with a simple, yet profound statement of grace – permission to express disappointment. It was one I hadn’t even allowed myself.

Expression of emotions is healthy. In fact, the best way to diffuse a powerful emotion is to express it. In my culture (family, work, church) there is a lot of freedom to express positive emotion, but we often haven’t known what to do with negative ones.

Just this morning, I read from Philippians 4 where we are admonished and encouraged to focus our minds on true things (among others) so that we can walk with God in peace. Does that seem like a contradiction to expressing negative feelings? Stay with me for another minute or two, friend.

In this case, I was disappointed that I would not receive a physical copy of Stasi Eldredge’s new book. She’s my all-time favorite non-fiction author and her book Captivating changed my life more than any book other than the Bible. My disappointment was a reasonable and healthy emotional response.

After admitting and expressing my disappointment, I moved on to embrace the truth:

  • I have the resources to buy the book, or my library will have the book and I can request it online for delivery to my door (we live in amazing times, ya’ll!).
  • Serving on launch teams gives me opportunities to interact with amazing authors and book lovers while we share new books with our communities.

And just like that…I’m flooded with gratitude and yes, peace. Peace comes with the right perspective, but we only get there by appropriately expressing honest emotions. I’m so thankful for the patient and smart people around me, who continue to extend grace as I learn and grow in the marvelous grace of God.

By his grace alone,

lorraine

The Benefit of the Doubt

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The Benefit of the Doubt

Good intentions. There is a proverb that says the road to hell is paved with them.

I’m not so sure of that, but I’m quite sure that as humans we tend to moralize and justify our actions to ourselves. Phrases like “She meant well” or “He had good intentions” don’t always line up with our behavior.

I love words and the walls of my house often display all manner of proverbs and verses to encourage and remind. However, I cringe when I see the sign that declares “Follow your heart” and that sentiment will never adorn my home. It matters not how many lovely images are attached, the message is frightening because I know this truth all too well:

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
Jeremiah 17:9 NIV

The New Living Translation translates the second half of that verse like this: “Who really knows how bad it is?” Honestly, the brief glimpses into the darkness of my heart leave me desperate for the transformative work of the Word of God, by the Spirit of God and the GRACE of God.

Is it any wonder our interactions with one another are at best awkward and at worst misunderstood and hurtful even among friends and family members? Social media has only fanned the fire with moment by moment updates.

What if we agreed to choose kindness? What if we delay our reaction by putting our phones down or choosing to recall the things we KNOW to be true about our relationships?

The easiest and best gift you can offer this week is the benefit of the doubt.

“To give someone the benefit of the doubt is to default to the belief that their intentions are honest and not assume malice when there is uncertainty or doubt surrounding the circumstances.” [i]

It’s not easy; I know that. But I have so much invested; there is much value in relationship and until there is a pattern of behavior, a body of work that proves ill intent, I’m going to avoid following my hurting heart and choose to believe the best about these precious souls.

Letting it go,

lorraine

[i] Urbandictionary.com

Dance With Me?

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Dance With Me?

For months, I’ve taken a sabbatical from writing. Words, impactful words anyway, come from the vulnerable places of the heart. The deepest places in my heart are exposed by the truth of Scripture and that’s where the words flow. It’s been a dry season, but I’ve never doubted God’s faithfulness.

Thankfully, words have begun to come again. If someone reads them and finds encouragement it is only because the God of the valley of dry bones has breathed life into them. Perhaps this piece was not meant for me alone, but if it was, He is still a very kind Father.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
Matthew 11:28-30, The Message

Recently, my husband held me close as we glided around a dance floor at a wedding reception. Neither of us is a great dancer, but I know this much well: only one of us can lead. I rested my head on his shoulder, closed my eyes and simply moved with his body. He led us around the dance floor, gently and tenderly holding me. I never looked up, preferring to rest in his arms and trust his lead. It was easy and comforting and I felt so very loved by this man who has been dancing with me for over forty-six years.

A few days later I was reading the passage above from Matthew and I remembered that dance. Jesus whispered “Just lean into me; allow me to lead. I will show you the unforced way of grace living.” He is so gracious, friends, this Jesus who has also been dancing with me for the same forty-six plus years.

There is no heavy yoke, pulling me in a direction when I walk with Him. He promised “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Rest. Our bodies need it and our souls crave it. I hope you got to take a great vacation this summer, but by the time the suitcases were unpacked, the laundry was finished and fridge was restocked you may have already grown weary.

Perhaps you crave rest as you look forward to this next season.

Dance with Him. His steps are sure. Trust his lead, my friend. He will take you to a place of true rest.

Trusting His lead,

lorraine

Jesus Loves Martha, Too…And a Book Giveaway!

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Jesus Loves Martha, Too…And a Book Giveaway!

My sister is named Martha. She always says that my parents made a mistake when naming us; she insists that I am the Martha of the family. It’s true that I am more like Martha than Mary, as evidenced by my resentment toward Jesus when I first read this account in the book of Luke. As a first-born daughter in a large family and a young wife and mother, I owned his words like a cloak of criticism:

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42 NIV, The Holy Bible

My thoughts were far from holy as I thought of how I might respond “in real life” given the same encounter.

“Well, that’s special, Jesus, but who do you think is going to whip up some food for these people you brought with you if I take a seat with Mary?”

OR

“These dishes don’t do themselves, you know.”

OR

“So, we are rewarding laziness? I can’t be a fan girl and make sure everyone eats, too.”

In my immaturity, I read the words of Jesus as a rebuke. I am a woman who gets things done. I check them off my detailed list (most likely a spreadsheet) and focus on the task at hand. I am often the one who takes the bull by the horns to come up with a plan and then execute it. I love to entertain and host people in my home. The words stung and yet I felt like I was at my God-given best when serving and meeting the needs of others by doing all the things.

I struggled for years with the notion that my propensity to get things done was from lack of spiritual maturity or simply a flaw in my design. While I’ve embraced the grace of God, I still struggled with this passage. I wrestled with the tension between those two perspectives until I read Made Like Martha.

In the pages of Katie Reid’s first book I found encouragement and reassurance that my bent toward “doing” is in my DNA; God, the perfect designer, made no mistake when he created this doer. I also recognized the natural weaknesses in my “Martha” design, especially the tendency to strive for perfection and approval through “doing”. I asked myself honest questions like “What am I doing that HE hasn’t asked to do?”

The biggest affirmation for me is that the worship I offer up as I serve and work are just as acceptable as Mary’s. I also came to grips with my bent toward finding fault with the Mary types in my life, content to sit at Jesus’ feet when there is so much to be done. Once I was confident in my position I could freely acknowledge and be grateful for hers!

I’m thankful that Katie put these words to a page and I love the book so much that I want to give you a copy! It’s easy to enter the contest. Just navigate over here to Katie’s Facebook writer page and like it. Comment on this post and let me know you did and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win Made Like Martha. Be sure to comment by July 11th. I’ll use Rafflecopter to select a winner on Thursday, July 12th. I hope you win!

lorraine

Note: I received a free copy of Made Like Martha from the publisher in exchange for my honest review of the book. My opinion is mine alone and was not coerced or influenced by the publisher.

 

Things Can’t Get Worse, Right….?

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Things Can’t Get Worse, Right….?

I remember it well. The days leading up to and following the new year everyone was on Facebook proclaiming that this one just had to be better than last. I recall thinking “Maybe you’d better buckle up, because things can always get worse” but refraining from typing the words because I’m an adult. With a brain. And some common sense. Well, most of the time.

Then the unthinkable happened. 2018 roared in like a lion on steroids with a ravenous appetite for my family. Perhaps there is a similar lion in your world; I’m sort of busy over here manipulating a chair and whip while nursing bloody wounds where hearts are supposed to beat with joy and anticipation, but I see you there. This is for you, friend.

  • Well-meaning people are going to ask questions like “Are you okay?” when they know full well you can’t possibly be okay. The only correct answer is the honest one. If you are not okay, let it be known. If they care, an arm will slip around your shoulder and they will stick around without judgment for the tears and whatever else leaks out of you. If they don’t, they’ll find a quick excuse to walk away but they’ll know the truth…and so will you.
  • You might be mad. Did you know that’s okay? I have it on the authority of King David that God can handle our anger, so trust me on this one. He isn’t creating our difficulties, but He is aware of them and we can vent to the one who knows it all and loves unconditionally.
  • Get ready to be amazed. There are two extremes and you will experience both. There are going to people who won’t be willing to join you in your misery. When I say that I’m not referring to some pity party, rather the reality that is your present circumstance. In the words of the icy Disney princess, let them go. Or in the words of Taylor Swift, shake them off. Either way…be done with them. They aren’t worth your limited energy. But you are also going to be blown away by the people who see you and respond with the purest of love. These are not the “Go, keep warm and be well fed” church crowd that James warns of; they are the ones who show up with whatever you need, usually before you know you need it. You might not even know them yet, but they love Jesus and you.
  • Step away from social media. In the middle of your hard season you don’t need to be constantly exposed to everyone else’s highlight reels. Do ask your friends to share their greatest joys with you personally – send those cute photos and funny memes right to your phone or inbox.
  • Continue doing the things you love with the people you love as much as possible. Live even when it feels like you might die.

If you have a friend who is in this place right now, may I suggest some things you can do for them?

  • Stay in touch. Ask “How are you?” and be willing to hear an honest answer. Listen – with compassion and intention.
  • Ask what they need; make sure they know you sincerely want to help.
  • Pursue time together. Ask them to come for dinner/family game night/coffee. Insist, even if it means taking the food to their house and handling prep, serving and cleanup.
  • Share your joy. They not only can handle it, they need it.
  • Refrain from giving too much advice or opinion, especially if they have a team of professionals.
  • Pray for them and listen to God’s prompts for ways to help. Make it your goal to be their biggest encourager.

Trouble rushes in like a tidal wave of disgusting, powerful water and sweeps away normal. If you are barely keeping your head above water, keep treading. If the flood has subsided and you are faced with the muddy aftermath, keep trusting.

Hope and confidence in God is our lifeline; this is the verse that I return to again and again. I pray it encourages your heart as well.

Because of the Lord’s great love for us we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:22-26

Waiting in hope,

lorraine

The Important Thing

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The Important Thing

What is important? I find myself examining my life with deeper scrutiny and that question begs an answer. Time is running out. While I would love to have decades more of health and life, I realize there is no assurance of tomorrow.

Last week, my granddaughter read “The Important Book” by Margaret Wise Brown. Little Miss P wrote a short response to the book. It was thought provoking; I loved her choice of subjects and the important thing about each.

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Although I am familiar with some of Brown’s work…I’ve read “Goodnight Moon” many times to my grandchildren…I had not read this one.

I ordered The Important Book from the library. (I hope you can also order online and have books delivered to your doorstep…it’s the most fun ever to find a book resting against the door, just waiting for me to arrive home!).

Today as I passed by the door, I noticed the telltale envelope. It’s always an adventure since I typically forget which titles I’ve requested as soon as I close the browser on my laptop.

It was a quick read. One after another I read the important thing about a spoon, rain, snow and others. The last important thing gave me pause.

The important thing about you is that you are you.
It is true that you were a baby and you grew,
and now you are a child and you will grow,
into a man, or into a woman.

But the important thing about you is that you are you.[i]

Earlier I had read these words from the book of Ephesians:

“You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world… God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God… For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Ephesians 2:2,8,10 NLT

As I read Brown’s words, written fifty years ago, I was inspired to write from my perspective; a woman seasoned by years of life and inspired by the Word of God and his grace in my life.

I am bombarded with messages every day; if I’m not careful, the noise is constant, relentless. Social media, television, radio, podcasts…there are so many voices and each of them is challenging, accusing, taunting or teaching and I am overwhelmed.

I cannot possibly do it all, know it all, absorb and retain it all. I try to filter it by relevance and importance and my brain hurts but the ache in my chest is even greater.

But I return to what He has said. The most important thing about me; the one thing I need to remember, to make my focus.

The important thing about me is that God saved me.
It is true that I used to live in sin, and
I am his masterpiece,
a new creature in Christ and
I will do good things that he planned for me.

But the important thing about me is that God saved me.

 

His by grace alone,

lorraine

[i] The Important Book, by Margaret Wise Brown, Copyright 1949

Grace for the Guilty Girl

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Grace for the Guilty Girl

My friend recently revealed a picture of Jesus that hangs in her home; a picture that she stole from the YMCA. She might not have been so forthcoming, but the picture held great significance to her first book and to her journey into grace.

There are no pictures of Jesus hanging in my home. When I met my husband and we began visiting some of his relatives, it was odd to see Jesus’ portrait on the wall along with all the family photos. I assumed it was a “southern protestant” thing.

I grew up in a Catholic home. There was at least one crucifix in every room. When we went to mass, there was a huge cross behind the altar. Jesus hung there quite gracefully despite the nails and the crown of thorns that pierced his skin.

I had a hard time reconciling all of these icons to a living Savior. At times I felt like a kid who just wanted to meet the “real” Santa Claus.

I met real Jesus in 1972. At seventeen years old I finally saw Jesus in the Gospel of John. Real Jesus. The Word. There was no way I could turn anywhere but toward him with everything I had.

As I look back at my relationship with him, I must admit that it took time for me to sort out all the influences of various representations of Jesus. When my sweet friend shared her book, Stolen Jesus with me, I followed her journey to discovering real Jesus and found myself nodding my head, laughing at her crazy stories and crying when the truth hit close to home.

Like Jami, I experienced the tension of reconciling actual life to the expectations of various religious practices and people. And like Jami, I thought it was Jesus making the demands. Every week I would listen to a sermon telling me what my life should look like. I tried so hard to keep the rules.

  • I felt guilty when I worked full time. Good moms, Godly Moms, stayed at home and raised their babies. But I knew in my gut that my babies needed health insurance.
  • I “prayed hard” for people with beer in their fridge while I struggled to reconcile how it was not sinful to overeat.
  • I dragged my children to church every time the doors opened while secretly resenting the stress of constantly running and the sacrifices our family was making.

I was a steaming cauldron of Catholic guilt and protestant legalism. Always compliant, I just wanted to please everyone, especially God. Despite my relationship with Jesus, I constantly doubted and mostly denied his grace.

When I began to follow Jami’s blog, I recognized a familiar pattern. We fail to keep all the rules; it’s impossible. Our faith wavers; we doubt. We beat ourselves up, give up and promise we will start new tomorrow or better yet, next week. When anything bad happened, I assumed it was God punishing us.

  • Car broke down? We didn’t tithe last week because the baby needed medicine. God strikes!
  • Owe taxes this year? I knew we should have given more to missions instead of taking a week of vacation. God strikes again!

If I had a picture of Jesus in my house those days, I would have turned his face toward the wall to escape his tender, yet disappointed gaze. I was on a performance track that was wearing me out and proving over and again that I just couldn’t measure up.

The truth of the Bible finally brought me to this realization:

There is nothing more to be done. I cannot add nor subtract anything from the truth that in Jesus I am righteous and God is good. My righteousness is in Him alone.

“Under the new covenant I am righteous. The work is completed. I am obedient to callings on my life not out of terror but out of love that seeps from me, because God is good.”[1]

I am so thankful that Jami has written this book, sharing her journey with so much candor and wit. I readily admit that I’m biased. She’s a generous person who has lifted my chin again and again. She was the first “for real” writer to notice me and I am forever grateful.

Aside from all of that, I would still recommend her book to you. While the subject matter is serious, she weaves humor and story into every chapter. I pray that if you relate to these words, you will read to the very end:

“For years I had professed an adoration for Jesus Christ, but in my poor state on that night, I knew it was more habit than relationship, more culture than worship and more clan than companionship.”[2]

Follow Jami to Jesus, friend. You’ll find grace and peace in his presence.

By his grace alone,

lorraine

Purchase your copy of Stolen Jesus from any of the following online retailers:

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Order your copy here:

Amazon

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[1] Jami Amerine, Stolen Jesus, Harvest House Publishers

[2] Jami Amerine, Stolen Jesus, Harvest House Publishers

Hello, My Name is Irma

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Hello, My Name is Irma

She approached slowly, gradually revealing herself like a seductress. Absent weather data, no one could have known Irma’s ferocity or intent.

On Sunday, we woke to light rain and blustery winds. I cleaned the oven and finished the laundry, cooking and tidying the house as if guests were expected. We alternated between storm coverage and football on television, eyeing the hurricane snacks with longing.

Always the optimist, I hoped for the best even as I had prepared for the worst. Gallon jugs of water were frozen, ready to keep our food cold in the event of a power outage. The garage was packed with every outdoor item that might potentially be a missile thrust from the strong arm of this beast of a storm.

As evening approached, gusts picked up and at times the rain was horizontal. For a week, our focus had been on her, paths projecting she would scoot up the West coast of Florida. As if she knew she had a right, she changed her mind…Irma made a turn and headed right for us.

Occasionally the power blinked, but it kept coming back. Storm coverage continued and my favorite anchors were reassuring. At 12:50 a.m. it blinked and the house went dark and silent. I grabbed my flashlight and then lit three pillar candles…my blessed trinity of light and comfort.

Something was banging against the house. My imagination was spiraling out of control as the windows shook from the force of roaring wind. Local friends posted updates of downed trees and power outages.

Irma had unleashed her full fury. There was no escaping it. I was focused on the storm and my heart could surely relate to the words of the psalmist:

My heart pounds in my chest. The terror of death assaults me.
Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking.
Oh, that I had wings like a dove, then I would fly away and rest!
I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness.
How quickly I would escape—far from this wild storm….” Psalm 55:4-7 NIV

Around three in the morning, the wind subsided significantly. Frogs croaked as crickets chirped in a strange harmony. The eye was passing overhead.

Suddenly I was no more than six years old. As Hurricane Donna crossed the state, my parents weathered the storm; they woke us when the eye passed over. They explained that the storm was still raging, but in those few moments, there was calm. We ventured outside to look at the sky in the complete darkness, to peer at the stars in the clear sky. I will never forget that night.

Again, I witnessed the calm that can be present even in a raging storm.

The day before the storm, I overheard an exchange between the Publix checker, the bag boy and a customer. As they chatted about the storm, the young bagger said he planned to sleep through the storm. The checker, with great enthusiasm, disagreed. “You see me? I ain’t Jesus and I ain’t sleeping through no hurricane!”

I chuckled, but I could relate. Too often, I get caught up in the storm and can’t find rest. And what about after the storm?

We suffer in our hot and humid homes, missing and appreciating electricity like the rich uncle we never realized we had. The debris is piled high along every road; technology is slow to recover but life beckons us return to normal. Groceries shelves are empty and gas station lines are long. Restaurants are packed and people are grumpy.

Irma has made her way North and fizzled out, but she left quite a mark. Lives were lost. Work was missed and the damages are still being assessed.

There is another hurricane brewing in the Atlantic. The good news? It’s not likely to have significant impact on the United States.

Life is a lot like that. One storm follows another and sometimes they pile up and you can’t even recover from the first before the next is raging. It’s a lot to handle.

I was thinking about all of this when I learned that our local eagle nest was destroyed in the hurricane. I never pass that way without slowing to look for those majestic birds. I was devastated.

But a friend captured this picture of the pair, perched above the pine tree where their huge nest once dominated the landscape. The nest is gone, but they are no less mighty. By nature, they will rebuild; if not in the same tree, nearby. Together, the male and female will bring sticks to construct the aerie (although the female manages placement, but that’s another post!) and over time they will raise more babies.

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Photo credit – Doug Hurlebaus

 

The minute I saw the photo, I remembered this:

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:30-31 NIV

I know you are tired, friends. This has been a harrowing and trying few days (and some of you even weathered Irma!). But our hope is in Jesus; I pray that the wind of his spirit comes up under your wings and you soar like an eagle to repair and rebuild the damage from the most recent storms in your life.

By grace we weather life’s storms,

lorraine

 

 

 

 

Like a Child

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Like a Child

I’ve just spent three days at Walt Disney World. In fact, I’m writing on my phone in a restaurant at  Hollywood Studios while sitting with a napping grandchild.

My granddaughters are obsessed with princesses. I love seeing my sweet girls twirl in their sparkly gowns. You may question the wisdom of it, but I want them to be comfortable with celebrating the beauty that He longs to set free in their hearts.

The King’s daughter is all glorious within;
Her clothing is interwoven with gold.

~ Psalm 45:13

Reality has a way of interrupting the magic, even at the happiest place on earth. As we waited for a royal meeting the phone buzzed with a text that jerked my adult self to attention.

Now alone with my thoughts my stomach churns, my jaw tightens and I am tempted to run down a familiar path that leads to worry and despair. A glance at the sleeping toddler makes me pause.

Early this morning, way before dawn, I woke as my bedroom door opened. Her little princess feet pattered the well-known path to me, her arms filled with princess dolls and her blanket. She lifted her burden toward me and spoke one word.

Grandma.

I unloaded her arms and pulled her into my bed; I wrapped my arms around her and she settled into the curve of my embrace. Her breathing  slowed and sleep came.

Anxiety, fear and fatigue will steal my joy in a skinny minute if I’m not paying attention. Instead, what if I choose the path that leads to  him? What if I choose to speak his name rather than reciting the woes that are sure to come?

Jesus.

I come to him, my arms filled with the worries, burdens and hurt that will steal my joy. He takes my heavy load and he pulls me close and I settle into his embrace. The weight of burdens lifts and he sings over me.

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing. ~ Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

I love that sweet little girl, but I know that my love for her pales in comparison to his love for me. He never sends us away; he pulls us close and sings songs over us. Whatever you are dealing with today, come to him…hand it to him and let him take the burden and pull you close.

Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child,
you’ll never get in. ~ Luke 18:18 The Message

Resting in his grace,

lorraine