I have one coming up. My birthday is just around the next corner and it is a big one. The end of a decade and the beginning of a new season. As I am preparing to cross over into my 7th decade, all kinds of things are coming to the surface for me. In fact.. this is a milestone year for me. Forty years ago I made a decision to follow the Lord.. I turned a big corner and really never looked back. So here I am on the edge of this decade trying to look ahead and see what might lie ahead . My life has been quite an adventure.. filled with joy and hardship and many surprises. God has blessed me in so many ways.. He has given me the desire of my heart over and over again. This short season right before this year is over seems to be a cleaning out time for me.. I am going through things in my home.. and spiritually I sense the need to do the same thing. My time here is limited and I want it to count.. so there are some old memories and feelings that I need to release to Him.
Without realizing it cynicism and bitterness were trying to take over my emotions.. I heard myself complaining way too much. I felt such regret that at times all I could do was cry my eyes out. What is happening Lord? His answer.. “I am healing you. First I need to uncover the pain that you buried and then I need to trigger all those old feelings so you will realize you need my help.” He did get through to me.. I know that it is time to let go.. to forgive all those people who hurt me. I want to be free of those old ties the ones that keep the past alive. So right now I am cooperating with the spirit of God.. The Holy Spirit who is at work deep inside my heart. I want Him to pull out those old roots of bitterness and regret.. to free me from everything that will keep me from having the life He promises us in John 10:10.
Every circumstance in our lives is an opportunity for growth and freedom. Nothing is happening by accident.. the Lord is able to work in each and every trial to bring good out of it .. Romans 8:28. I am learning this in a new way right now.. Every door that closes in my face is because He is protecting me from my own ” good ideas.” His ways are so different from ours yet somehow I always think I can figure things out… it never works. So I am putting myself and my struggles in His hands for this new season.. I am believing that He will work deeply in my heart,, that my part is to cooperate with Him.. to believe and trust that He who began a good work will bring it to completion.
So.. what is coming up for you right now? Have you stopped to reflect on all that the Lord has done for you? Is there anything you want to being to Him that is holding you back? Just a couple thoughts for this very special time of the year.. We are so fortunate that we know who to thank at this holiday.. that we realize where everything good comes from.. so blessed to be connected to the One True God who is our creator and the one who showers down love on us in all times and all circumstances.. withholding nothing good from us.. His beloved!
I am writing to all of you …who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people.
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace !
The last few weeks have been a great reminder of the way God works in our lives. We often wait for things hoping that what we long for will happen. I am a great believer in “longing’. After all it is our longing that draws us near to the Lord and it was His longing for us that led to creation and all that followed. So..as we long for things..we may start to hear things that bring discouragement. We may believe that God has said no.. when in truth He has not. We may find ourselves tested.. when nothing is happening or even worse when things are all happening in the wrong way.. do we trust God? In my life I have seen this testing happen over and over again.. as though the enemy works overtime to bring discouragement while the Lord is working behind the scenes on our behalf. We have to make some pretty important choices.
Will we trust in the goodness of God when everything around us says that is not true? Will we believe that He knows the desire of our hearts when everything is taking way too long? Can we walk in faith when we have no sight? I believe the answer to all of these questions needs to be yes. If we are followers then we follow in His steps no matter what our circumstances and we trust that Romans 8:28 is true every single day of our lives. The older I get the more I have the more memories I have of God’s sovereignty over every difficult circumstance and the easier it is to believe that He will continue to provide and deliver as I wait on Him and do not give up.. That in itself is a huge!
I am thinking of you as I write this.. wondering if you are struggling the same way I do when I cannot see ahead… the uncertainty causes anxiety and worry. I doubt if I will ever totally overcome in this area, but I have memories and that is helping. I remember learning how people often give up right before the blessing.. so I won’t give up. I remember how the Bible talks about perseverance and how there are so many examples of God coming through at the last minute and rescuing His people. I have many memories of that in my own life..He has been there for me over and over again. So I want this post to bring you hope..we cannot live without hope and we cannot live the abundant life without our God. Trust in Him.. wait on Him..remind yourself of every single time He has come for you and know that He will do that again and again.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)
We had a church retreat this weekend and if I could give it a name.. it would be the title of this post..”Remembering His Goodness.” That is the theme that I kept hearing in the stories the speakers shared with us. They were actually speaking on the hard times in life and how we need to learn to accept them as normal and be able to reach out to those around us when they reveal their struggles to us. A great topic in these times where there is so much fear and anxiety in everyday life.
The key for me was hearing this theme as we read through the psalms and discussed the issues they presented. Our Creator God is good, He is faithful and available in all circumstances. He is larger than our circumstances.. bigger than our fears..sovereign over everything that happens to us in this life. He is our refuge and our rock.. We are always able to cry out to Him… to rely on Him and lean into Him. Although His ways are not our ways.. we can trust Him to bring deliverance when we need it and to rescue us before it is too late!
Our part is to remember this and to act on it.. to nurture the relationship.. to remember Him and His promises… to dwell on His faithfulness and to count on Him when the darkness comes. We are in a battle and our faith is constantly being challenged by the trials and tests that we face..but He is there with us.. We are not alone. This is our road.. we signed up for it when we committed to follow Him and He will carry us when we cannot walk another step.
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (psalm 27:13-14)
I can’t believe we are in the middle of August already..summer seemed to fly by. Our weather has been surprisingly cool.. Fall seems to be here already. I remember when summers lasted forever..all that has changed. We are busy people with so much to do.. we fill up most of our days with responsibilities and activities. There is a down side to this busyness..we can miss out on the moment. Instead of living fully each day..we rush through life..eager to get to the next thing and then the next thing and after that the next thing. Why are we in such a hurry?
A lot of it is our instant culture. We want everything now and we don’t want to wait.. I find myself the same way. Time can become an enemy and not a friend. Yet life with God is not fast..He is not in time the way we are, so He is never in a hurry. Our lives are not going to be too short for the things that God has prepared for us.. there is no need to fit everything in. It would probably benefit most of us to stop..so we can reflect on what we are doing and how we are spending our time in this life. We won’t be encouraged to this.. either inside or outside the church. There is just so much to do.. For God. Really?
We are here because He created us and gave us life to fulfill His purposes.. not to accomplish things. That accomplishment thing comes from us.. He wants us to receive His love and to love those around us.. to live life fully each day confident that everything that is supposed to happen will happen. When we make mistakes.. He will redeem them. When we choose to be still.. He will find someone else to do what we cannot do.. He has it all under control.
For me.. telling God daily that I trust Him helps tremendously. When I look around and see so many things I cannot change.. I remind myself that He has a plan and it is unfolding perfectly. When my emotions get the best of me I cry out to Him and let Him see the mess that I am. I make sure there is time in my day for these things even if all the work does not get done!
So.. enjoy the rest of the summer season and know that life is meant to be savored..relax and rest whenever possible. Trust Him with everything.
“Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (psalm 100:3)
to be in His presence..the same way we are. Today as I was walking through the valley I suddenly saw everything around me in a new light. As I looked at the trees and plants.. I saw them reaching up to the Lord. It was as though they were showing me that they long for more in the same way we do. It was a surprising experience.
I love nature and try to get out into it as often as possible..I appreciate the beauty that lies just outside my front door..particularly when Spring begins to show its face in the flowers and lush green leaves of the trees. It is easy for me to remember that God created all of this .. it is a gift He gives us every day. Today was different because I could sense the longing of creation for its Creator. God seemed to be saying that as we long for Him and reach for Him in that same way, He will bring growth to us and we will bear fruit for Him.
I saw this picture of how all creation, including us, waits for the day when all is as it should be. Even the plants and trees will be their perfect selves..everything will be made whole and beautiful. We live with this desire throughout our lives here and God wants us to live as fully as possible each and every day. But the truth is we will not experience life fully until that day when His work of redemption is complete.
I can live with that..knowing that He is working and bringing to completion everything and that someday the perfect world that we long for will be ours!
“Let’s hear it from Sky, With Earth joining in, And a huge round of applause from Sea.
Let Wilderness turn cartwheels, Animals, come dance, Put every tree of the forest in the choir—
An extravaganza before God as he comes, As he comes to set everything right on earth, Set everything right, treat everyone fair.” ( psalm 96:11-13)
No one does.. He is always with us even when we don’t know much about Him or realize that He is accessible. I was raised by atheists and have been spending time thinking about what this did to me as a child. Fortunately I did not believe my parents when they told me that God did not exist..children know the truth. I knew He was real but never had the courage to tell my parents that I didn’t believe what they said. I whispered a memorized every night just to make sure that we were on good terms during the night..
He was with me all those years when I wondered about Him and never met anyone who could tell me how to connect with Him. I see how He protected me..pursued me.. and eventually captured my heart. His plan for my life was unfolding throughout my childhood. There were people who treated me with kindness and cared for me when my parents were too busy..there were movies with themes related to faith and heaven that touched my heart. No one grows up without God.
He is still with me and with you. He continues to pursue us through people, experiences, movies, books and creation. He cares for us when others are too busy to notice our pain or our broken hearts. His faithfulness is unchanging. He gives us the desires of our hearts.. even those things that we have forgotten or buried. He treasures every word that comes out of our mouths. He watches every step we take. He is our Father..the one who gives extravagantly and loves to surprise us. No one lives their lives alone..some people don’t know He is there..but He will continue to run after them until their last breath.
We are the people of the God who set the heavens in place..the Creator.. Jehovah Jirah.. our provider. Let’s rejoice in His goodness and remember His presence!
“Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take”
( 18th century prayer that I discovered as a child)
Have you ever let yourself realize that everywhere you go He is there? We might mention that idea in passing..but what about really letting it sink in. He directs our steps and when we go into new circumstances God is right there with us. He can use us in each and every new environment. He is not limited by our doubts..worries..or fears. He has assignments for us..opportunities that are unlimited.
All we need to do is take that next step. My nature is to want stability and to stay where I am planted. God sees it differently..He is asking us to be flexible to follow Him wherever He decides to take us and only stay as long as He wants us to. If we are truly following Him He will take us to the very location where He can use our gifts to encourage others. Every adventure with Him is a season and we have to be ready to move on to the next chapter. I struggle with that..but as I put my hope in Him and not in my circumstances..it is easier.
Your journey and mine are filled with twists and turns. He leads us into unknown places..out of our comfort zone. He takes us down dark alleys without a glimpse of light. He removes the barriers that prevent us from staying close to Him as we trust in His leading. Our God is faithful to take us to every new destination at just the right time. It is an exciting life..filled with surprises and gifts from the heart of our true Father.
I love them. The colors..the surprise every time one shoots up in the air an..that moment when as you wait for it to explode. If you are in a crowd..you can hear the sighs and feel the wonder all around you. Fireworks help us celebrate..prompt us to look up..take our breath away..renew our weary spirits.
God does all these things too..and not just on the 4th of July. He loves celebrations.. He rejoices with us when we find ways to enjoy life. When we lift our eyes waiting expectantly for Him to show up.. He is delighted with us. Every night the sky is flooded with stars that He made. Some evenings we can catch a glimpse of the beauty of the full moon. Nature is His handiwork. The coast of our beautiful state is one breathtaking view after another. The wildflowers are a sea of incredible shapes and colors. What a creative genius He is!
Yes I love fireworks..but even without them there are surprises and beauty everywhere. Find a way to enjoy this day..let Him renew your spirit and lift you above your circumstances..you deserve it!
“This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Why is it easier to blend in than stand out? Why does it feel more comfortable to stay in the background rather than speaking up? Why is it hard to be different? For me the answer is simple..I want people to like me and approve of me. Lately God has been nailing me on that one..almost daily I find myself having to step out in a way that could end up in rejection. I’m not in love with the process. Yet I think I understand why it needs to continue.
He has His ways of teaching us..of stretching us..of shaping us. If we follow Him closely He will take us out of our comfort zone..especially when it comes to other people. He will challenge us to look for approval in His eyes not in the eyes of those around us. We are being called to a place where we speak truth no matter what.
My name actually means ” keeper of the truth”. I never liked my name when I was younger..it was unique and there were very few girls named Alicia ..today there are many. I realize now that God was preparing me to be able to stand alone. He was teaching me to be different and to live up to my name. I have fought Him over and over again..why did you make me the way I am Lord? Why am I a Jewish believer in the Gentile church? Why am I a woman who graduated from Seminary as a grandmother? Why am I passionate to tell people there is life in you? .. more life than they ever dreamed of?
He doesn’t explain it all to me. He does give me the ability to persevere and to trust Him for what I don’t understand. He will do the same for you. You are unique..different from those around you.. your life holds challenges that no one but God knows or understands. He made us the way we are. He created us for His purposes. We are chosen by Him..loved by Him. He will stand by us throughout our lives..pouring out hope into our hearts.. encouraging us and empowering us. He is with us!
“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. ”
I love growing plants in containers. A few years ago I gave up on annuals..those plants that look so good for one spring and summer and then are gone. I switched over to perennials..they last for many years..blooming and then dying back over the winter months. My plants are showing signs of life right now..their stalks are covered with little green sprouts. What a beautiful sight..winter is almost over and spring is around the corner.
The life of faith is like a perennial. We experience seasons where we are dry brown sticks. Our hearts are heavy and our spirits are deflated. We are in a winter season..waiting for spring. Beneath the surface..the life that God breathes into us is still very much alive. He is at work in us. We have no idea what He is doing..we wonder if it will ever end. Our challenge is to survive..to stay upright like the little plants in my pots. To keep our roots sinking deeper and deeper into the soil. We become stronger in Him as we survive winter after winter. We persevere..we wait.
Our life is not easy..that word is not found in the Bible. Our walk is not simple.. like the books that spell out things step by step. We live in a mystery. But we don’t live in it alone. We live each dry season with our God. The same one who set the heavens in place..the one who came and suffered to give us life. Our creator..our life-giver..our faithful God who never leaves or forsakes us.
Sink your roots down deep and hold on. The storms will pass..the season will change. He will come for you..our deliverer!
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than yours.”