Tag Archives: Grace

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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[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

 

 

 

 

 

45 Years and Still Fighting…

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45 Years and Still Fighting…

I sat on the very last row, an early arriver for the wedding; I’d only met the couple the night before; I was there because my husband was officiating.

I watched the groom casually stroll from the back of the room to take his place alongside my husband. They exchanged a few private words, smiling as they waited for the music to shift, signaling the start of the processional. Any moment, the doors would open and his beautiful bride would stand ready to join him, not only for the moment, but for life.

I bowed as my husband prayed over the ceremony and I was overwhelmed by the gravity of what would take place next. I knew that few in the room were aware of the throngs that were kept at bay by heavenly angels as these two would speak vows to one another before a holy God.

My mind wandered to the day forty-five years ago when my husband and I made the same journey, me on my father’s arm and he alongside our pastor. We met at the front of a room that is no longer a church, but that spot was and always will be sacred ground.

If we had known then what we know now, I’m not sure we would have had the courage to enter a covenant that flies in the face of the enemy. We stood before our pastor and about seventy-five friends and family and made promises that we couldn’t keep:

  • To have and to hold … till death do us part – (okay, the service was more King James than James Taylor, but back then there wasn’t much creativity with vows if you weren’t having a hippy wedding)
    We couldn’t fully comprehend just how long it would be before one of us would die. That is not a commitment to take lightly on your eighteenth birthday.
  • For better or for worse – I had seen lots of “worse” and I was sure it would be easier alongside this man-child. What I couldn’t understand was that sometimes one of us would be the source of the “worse”. I didn’t know how often and how strong the enemy would come into a situation and attempt to position us at odds with each other, two very different people from very different backgrounds.
  • For richer or poorer – We thought we were familiar with poverty, but we had never had to think about keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table.
    We couldn’t have known that financial tragedy would strike; we would have to join hands rather than point fingers if we were to survive and ultimately thrive.
  • In sickness and in health – Two young people, strong and healthy, stood before that preacher, naïve and clueless that years later chronic illness would strike,  changing our lives forever.
  • To love – We were crazy in love with each other. We had experienced it as our parents and families loved us and we had witnessed it in parents who loved one another.
    We had no idea how broken we each were and how much God would use marriage to reveal and heal those broken places.
  • To cherish – Webster defines cherish as keeping or cultivating with care and affection. I had no idea that my dreams would only emerge as this man coaxed me to name them or that he would need me to assure him that he was enough.

In the cool of an air-conditioned sanctuary, on a muggy Friday in July of 1972, we stepped into our story.

The humble ceremony and the small reception gave not even a nod to the epic battle we were walking into. I won’t deny that it’s hard. There have been times when I wanted to quit and I’m sure he’s been tempted as well.

We’ve recently been sharing our excitement over reaching a milestone anniversary and the prevailing comments are all summed up in a few words. “That’s a really long time.” Yes, it is.

If you are looking for a how to list or step by step guide to wedded bliss, you are going to be disappointed but after so many years, we have learned.

We fight hard for our home because we believe our lives depend on it. We are quietly passionate. There has never been a great deal of arguing or bickering in this marriage, but oh, there have been fights.

We go to our knees again and again for our family. When the enemy wanted him to give up over human failure I spread my body over his and declared the truth about who God says he is. He serves me in big ways and everyday small ways with complete joy.

We realize that our love story is not ours alone; it is set amid a war with a purpose far greater than our happiness. God longs to use our marriage to point people to Jesus. We have seen a glimpse into the value of what God is doing in our marriage, a glorious story of his faithfulness.

We know that love is costly; in fact, it costs everything. Our greatest example is God’s love demonstrated on the cross. We also enthusiastically agree it is worth it. As much as I loved that handsome groom on our wedding day, my love for him forty-five years later is so much richer and deeper. We choose again and again to honor, bless and serve one another per God’s best advice for life. “Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” (Romans 12:10, The Message)

We believe that God is for our marriage. He has set the stage for romance, with beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, music, and deep desire for one another. “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16)

I expect there will be many more battles; we will worry too much over our daughters and grandchildren. Despite our good intentions, he will leave his clothes by the hamper and I will make us late and overreact about his driving.

I am looking forward to every new day with him, to every sunset he drives me to, to every doctor’s appointment I make when he wants to “wait and see”. We are finding more joy every day and I like to think the hardest days are behind us, but I know that is not likely.

Whatever the next decades bring, we are stronger because we have discovered that we have an enemy and he is not us.

Joying in this journey,

lorraine

A word to my husband, my most faithful reader, the one who believes in my dreams far more than I ever dared:

Thanks for always treating me like the beauty in the love story, honey. I’m so glad that God gave me a man who will fight for me, who has patiently loved me as the veil has lifted to reveal the beauty of who God created me to be. I love you and always will. Happy Anniversary!

 

Photo Booth 46

 

Wedding Dance 2017

 

 

The Best Summer Ever

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Here we are in late June and it’s finally starting to feel like summer. I truly miss summer with kids. I know, those of you with children at home are smack dab in the middle of separating squabbling kids and telling them they just ate, even as you read these words. Humor me.

I haven’t totally forgotten the challenges, mamas; I know the struggle is real.

But I loved the days of relaxed bedtimes and lazy mornings. Even though I worked most of those years, I remember there was less urgency of schedule; there was so much joy in letting loose. When I came in from work we headed to a pool instead of checking homework assignments and laying out clothes for the next day.

In our current stage of life, summer can seem just like any other season, but this week has been so much fun.

After a quiet and restful Father’s day for my hubby we joined friends for dinner on Monday night. The kitchen was lively as we all took on various bits of cooking and serving. It was especially fun as the children selected dishes and flatware for the table and even some of the meal prep.

We sat around the table long after having our fill of delicious food, sipping wine and talking. The children took leave but returned later with an impromptu skit. They were thrilled to entertain and there was so much laughter.

The next evening, we met our daughter and grandson at a favorite restaurant to celebrate Father’s Day. Once again, we sat around a table, sharing a meal and catching up with the ones we love.

Sometimes you think you’ve had the best days of your week already, you know? Have you ever thought that things just couldn’t get any better, planning to just hang out in the afterglow for a stretch? That’s pretty awesome for a Tuesday, the most ordinary day of the week, but that’s pretty much how I felt.

And then Wednesday came along and knocked one out of the park.

It was the first night of book club. It had been a gorgeous afternoon and I jumped on the golf cart and headed to town, ready to meet with friends. The sky looked a bit threatening to the south, but it’s Florida, people. In June. Carry on.

I swung by the church to pick up the mamas as they dropped their babies for childcare and we squeezed everyone and their umbrellas in…the clouds were a bit more threatening.

The hour passed quickly as we discussed the book and caught up on life. We stepped into the muggy parking lot just as it began to pour. Six women jumped on the golf cart, umbrellas extending around the exposed perimeter. Shrieks of laughter filled the air, followed by screams as cold rain soaked our clothing. In the midst of it all, someone recorded the craziness with her cell phone as we splashed through puddles the short distance back to the church.

Gold Cart Rain

After a warm bath and a snack, I snuggled in next to my hubby and thought about the joy of relationships. While I’ve shared some highlights here, there were many more moments of connection with precious people in my life this week; some as simple as a text message and others heart to heart conversations.

I’m determined to care for relationships this summer. It seems like the perfect time to nurture them by making memories. Just imagine how many years we will laugh about that golf cart ride!

Are you intentional in your relationships? Do you have dinner parties, or coffee dates? I’d love to learn more about how you take care of the people in your life. Talk to me by adding a comment – I promise to respond.

Now go out there and have a great summer, friends!

“Walk with the wise and become wise…” ~ Proverbs 13:20

lorraine

Spotlights and Hissy Fits

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Spotlights and Hissy Fits

She was perched on my lap, knees digging into my thighs, peering over and around the head of the very tall gentleman in the row in front of us. She was literally quivering with delight as she watched the lights come up on group after group of dancers. Without fail, she clapped fervently then cupped her hands around her mouth and let out a whoop as each took a bow.

Periodically she turned a bit to face me, excitement lighting her face. “That was so good!” she exclaimed over and over. She could barely contain her joy.

She celebrated every performance including her own. This afternoon it was about her and her dance company and she was loving the costumes, the makeup and the spotlight.

After the final curtain we all loaded into the fifteen passenger van. In a matter of moments, she went from celebrated performer to big sister/little sister/six-year-old girl whose sparkly costume was suddenly itchy and whose blood sugar was crashing. She was near having a hissy fit, but Mommy assured her she could in fact endure the costume for the short ride home.

Once there, she slipped into something far less itchy and was given some quiet time in her room to unwind. In a bit she rejoined her six brothers and sisters in the kitchen for pizza and it occurred to me that her moment in the spotlight was short.

I thought of how I deal with my “fifteen minutes of fame” experiences. We all have them from time to time…. a short period of time when the spotlight and the attention turns to us and we feel special, important and celebrated.

But for most, those are short-lived and we climb back into the fifteen passenger van that is our daily life. To be honest, I sometimes throw a private hissy fit when the celebration is over.

Oh friend, I’m so thankful for GRACE that assures us that no matter how short-lived our moments of fame may be, we are valued and loved. 

GRACE even when I’m out of sorts because the current circumstance, maybe even the thing that just a day or so ago was beautiful and sparkly, is now irritating and I just want out.
If you find yourself just outside of the afterglow of a great experience, give yourself some grace, friend. Recharge with food for your soul and take a break. Then come join us at the table, where we will again celebrate the goodness of our Father and what He does for us and through us.

“Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace.
It’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people
who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you.
The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God
is and by what he does for us, not by what we do for him.”
Romans 12:3  ~ The Message

 

Enjoying his grace in spite of my hissy fits,

lorraine

 

 

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My beautiful dancer, and her mother’s efforts to keep her flat on her feet when she’s not in the spotlight.

 

 

 

Losing Myself in a Selfie Culture

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Losing Myself in a Selfie Culture

treeThe sun was high, it’s beams breaking through the trees; shadows danced at my feet as the leaves and branches swayed with the gentle breeze. Though the air was cool, the jacket slipped off my shoulders, tied around my waist as I walked. It was as if the woods were drawing me in, inviting me to stay a while.

I inhaled deeply; the loam under my timid steps was damp from recent rains, rich with the scent of mud and wildflower blossoms. The river was just steps away, the color of my morning coffee and scattered with limbs downed by the weight of the past winter’s snow.

A plastic grocery bag was tucked into my pocket; it’s the season for morel mushrooms and this was a great spot to hunt. I determined to pay close attention to every detail as I wandered this plot of ground, wild and yet mere yards from a house filled with many beautiful and well-appointed rooms. Wilderness and refinement are neighbors on this Midwest homestead.

I was not alone. My cousin, a skilled hunter and woodsman, hiked ahead of me. I followed his lead as we broke the thicket and entered the deeper brush. I had slowed to take in the details. I thought he might have intentionally passed a patch of the prized morels as a test. He’s like that… a teacher and trainer at heart. It would be like him to set up an opportunity for me to succeed.

Woods collageOther family members went off in various directions. I couldn’t resist stopping for pictures of flowers, or downed logs and animal burrows. I fell behind, no longer within earshot of the crackling of branches and leaves as my companions trekked through the brush.

For a moment, a tremor of panic welled up, threatening to overtake my joy. I didn’t know my way out. While I had carefully surveyed every tree and wildflower in the shady thickets and examined hollow logs and the play of light with the curiosity of a child, I paid no attention to the direction I had wandered.

He would never leave me here, I reminded myself. And almost to the moment, he called out. I responded, assuring him I was fine, moving in the direction of his voice.

There were others in our small group and we occasionally caught site of one another, always hoping for a report of a find.

Finally we regrouped back at the trucks, driving out. We hadn’t gone far when he stopped and we jumped out again, this time walking to the end of a long thicket. “This is a good spot. I’ll clear the way for you to step in.”

Skillfully he parted the thorny, twisted branches and held them back as he led the way. He continued to coach and lead as I finally entered a clearing. Again I ventured off, exploring and searching but staying within earshot of my trusted guide.

I heard creaking overhead and looked up to see a huge log perched precariously between two trees – a widow maker, I would be told later. I wondered how many eyes were peering out, watching me as I was completely unaware of them. There was some calculated risk in this place, but it was beautiful and wild. There was no need for fear, rather awareness of potential danger.

Once home, I surveyed the scratches; they were superficial. Tick checks were conducted by buddies, since they tend to hitchhike in hard to locate places.

Later, as I lay quiet in my bed before sleep came, I reviewed my wonderful day. There were glorious reunions with loved ones, the simple joy of watching a dog work like a champ for a master he adores, and the peace found in a place of worship seated between two people I love.

I remembered the hike in the woods and I was grateful, even thought we never saw even one mushroom. As I thanked God for a walk in the woods, he used it to speak to me about my often misplaced hunt for affirmation.

“I’m clearing the way for you to step in. Just follow me. You’ll get some scratches, sure…but I’ll be just ahead of you, making a way. Call out to me; I’ll be listening for your voice and I’ll respond.

I’m giving you some space to explore; I want you to experience all that I’ve created for you. There is danger, sure. You may get some wounds, but they will pale in comparison to the beauty of walking with me.”

Friends I know he is leading me toward something new. I’m scared that I’ll get hurt. And I might. This life was not intended to be easy.

He is teaching me to think less about myself in the midst of a selfie culture.

I’ve found myself returning to the empty cistern of people to get my tank filled, looking for likes and loves and affirmation that only he can give. I’ve asked friends (while not openly because that’s just weird) to fill me up, to refuel me for service and I’ve come back empty. Every. Single. Time.

It’s not his plan. He’s the one and only one who never tires of me, who calls me beautiful and beloved. He will literally leave the entire flock and come searching for me (Matthew 18:12) as I wander, trying to find my way, sometimes getting lost in the distraction of the pretty things along the way.

He never tires of you. He is waiting for you to call out; I’m convinced he’s setting up scenarios for your success. He called to Peter to step out of the boat, knowing he would not sink as long as he kept his eyes on him!

Your salvation and honor depend on God alone. He is your mighty rock; pour your heart out to him and never fear rolling eyes or impatient sighs. He is trustworthy. Go ahead, lay it all out in front of him, your REFUGE. Follow him, even if you fear a few scratches. He’s got you and he’s got something beautiful for you just beyond the thorns.

By grace alone, I’m following into this new thing,

lorraine

 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people.
Pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8 (NOV)

 

Making Room for Change

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Making Room for Change

 

I really hate to throw food away. I’m not sure if it is my humble upbringing or my overall frugality, but I’m bothered when I realize I’ve let food get past its prime and have to dispose of it.

Recently the out of town grands were visiting and we made lots more food than normal. As they prepared to leave and I surveyed the mass quantities of leftovers in the refrigerator I openly lamented all of the waste.

My daughter remarked that we’d had our fill; we ate well, and the food was wonderful but no longer beneficial.

She suggested that I let it go while being thankful that we’d had more than enough. Good word, I thought as I discarded the old and made room for the beautiful fresh veggies I would pick up later at the farmer’s market.

Recently I was given lots of gently used clothes; they were mostly from the Loft, one of my favorite stores. It was a huge blessing, but I quickly realized in order to make room for them I would have to part with some things that had served me well, but no longer brought me joy. They had to go and frankly many of my “old” favorites were just that. It was time to let them go!

I’m in a season of waiting; I feel like God is on the brink of doing something new, but change isn’t something I typically embrace.

Could it be that God’s waiting for me to make room for a new thing?

I’m trying to rest, to wait and see what He’s up to.

Even as I type the words, I think “How ludicrous is that”?

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Rest is not trying; rest is surrender. Rest is restorative.

When I lie down at night and realize that every muscle is tense, that my jaw is clenched and my hands are tight fists, I have a routine of consciously relaxing from my head to my toes. I release control and allow my mind to let the stresses of life go for a bit…I focus on a favorite scripture passage or picture my favorite place to let go…the beach.

I surrender to the rest that I know I will need to face a new day. I release control of life for seven or eight hours and I sleep. It is during this rest that cells are repaired; the body restores itself from the effects of the day’s exposure to stress, toxins, UV rays and all manner of other harm.

Spiritual rest is only found in the quiet place; I hear him best when I choose to turn off the noise of the outside and consciously relax every corner of my heart, surrendering them each to his calm. It is in this rest that my heart can hear Him speak healing words of love over the places that exposure to the world have been scraped and made raw.

I’m acting on what a friend has been praying for me. I’m free falling right into the arms of Jesus; it’s the only place of true rest and restoration.

I’ll let you know how it’s going, friend.

Resting in his grace,

lorraine

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun!
I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Psalm 43:19 NLT

TOM

And speaking of rest, how would you like to win a new mattress? My friend Rebecca Huff is sponsoring a big giveaway this month. Head on over to this post to see what it’s all about and learn more about getting rest through quality sleep.

The Easy Wife

Another great giveaway is happening over here on The Easy Wife Facebook page. What a great way to get started with Essential Oils! Check out Jami and Stacey’s podcast – you’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will I Ever Be Enough?

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Will I Ever Be Enough?

The sound woke me suddenly and my heart was beating fast. Adrenalin was coursing as I identified the source of the alarm. Two vibrations and then a few rising tones meant that my hubby’s blood sugar had exceeded the high threshold and his monitor was alerting.

I laid there in the dark, processing the information for a few minutes and it alarmed again. This time he sat up, insulin pump in hand. He took stock of his number and administered the insulin.

Five minutes later, the alarm sounded again. And five minutes later, and five minutes later….

He dozed beside me but I couldn’t sleep. Now awake, I thought of design ideas for an improvement to the continuous monitoring device. A temporary hold on alarms came to mind; a way to communicate that insulin was delivered, now hush and give it time to work its magic already.

Still awake, my thoughts went to the previous day. It was not a good one for me. Work was fine, home was fine, my commute was fine. I was not. Fine. The tension had been building for weeks.

I reviewed my conversations, my mindset, my attitudes. I regretted spoken words. It had been ugly.

I gave much thought to my husband’s earlier wise counsel over a situation that I was struggling with.

I was filled with regret. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I was truly sorry.

The truth is that I’m overwhelmed. Deadlines missed. People disappointed. Criticism hurled. Expectations dashed. I have a litany of reasons to be disappointed with myself that I recite when I turn the attack inward.

I am as hard on myself as I am on others. “Why did you ever think you could complete a half marathon?” I have guilt and embarrassment over yet another thing that I started and couldn’t finish. Mind you, an arthritic hip is the real demon here, but I’m glad to take a beating over it.

I took stock. I asked myself a question.

“What are you afraid of?”

Immediately, I thought of my every day fears. Lizards. Snakes…most any reptile you can name. But really, those aren’t the things that scare me when I lie awake in the night, when I’m driving my car, or when I sit down to write.

The truth is that I’m afraid that I’m not enough.

When I was expecting my second child (we didn’t know she was a girl – it was the 70’s) I was afraid. I had normal expectant mom fears like birth defects and whether something I ate or something the doctor prescribed might harm my baby.

But my biggest fear? I was afraid that I wouldn’t have enough love for another child.

I loved my firstborn daughter with a love that I had never known. She was our life. I couldn’t wait for her to wake up in the morning and I stood over her crib and watched her sleep at night. There was no way that I had the capacity to love another child like that. This new baby? I feared she would get leftovers. If there were any, that is.

Of course, our second daughter was born and I loved her dearly – she was such a gift to our little family.

That fear was ridiculous but it loomed large and in charge for the better part of eight months (again…the 70’s – I had to actually wait a few weeks to get a pregnancy test at the doctor’s office).

Fear unfounded. God created our hearts with the capacity to love beyond our wildest imaginations.

Back to that alarm in the night…the problem with it was lack of data. The device knew only the number that it was reading. It was not aware of the on-board insulin and therefore didn’t take it into consideration. It continued to act like there was not enough.

Through tears I confess that I am just like that. The fear is real, just like that number. There are plenty of triggers that cause me to be alarmed. There always will be. And I feel despicable. I’m ashamed. I’m afraid that no matter how much I do, how hard I try, I will never be enough. And data is proving it. The world, even good people, even some of the people who love me, will never be fully satisfied with me.

But unlike that device, I know the remedy has already been supplied. There is no need to walk about with anxiety and weariness over feeling I am not enough.

“Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you.”
Isaiah 43:4

I recently read these words from Kelly Balarie: “If it wants to beat you, tie you down, and throw you out back for always being despicable, I assure you, it is not God.”[1]

And further, if I constantly find fault with myself, I will not have the confidence to recognize the good in those around me. I will never honestly admire others more than I admire who God designed me to be.

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I wish I had a nice little bow to tie on this post. All figured out. Got it.

The truth is that I’m taking baby steps. I’m reading the words of a trusted mentor and I’m making a choice to walk in faith rather than fear.

He is enough, therefore I am enough…

lorraine

 

What fear are you struggling with today? I pray that you too, can begin to walk in faith and I highly recommend you join me on my fear-fighting expedition.

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About the book, Fear Fighting, Awakening the Courage to Overcome Your Fears:

Author and Speaker, Kelly Balarie didn’t always fight fear – for a large part of her life, she was controlled by it. Yet, in her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears, with God, Kelly charts a new course. Join Kelly, on the journey to go and grow with Christ’s bravery, the Spirit’s counsel and God’s unending love that squelches fear. This book reads like a love letter from God, while offering practical heart-calming prayers, anxiety-reducing tips, and courage-building decrees that will transform your day.

 

About Kelly Balarie:

Kelly is both a Cheerleader of Faith and a Fighter of Fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear at http://www.fearfightingbook.com/.

 

[1] Quote from: Fear Fighting – awakening courage to OVERCOME your fears, by Kelly  Balarie