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Posts Tagged ‘Thoughts’

I admit it.  I don’t do change well.  This is something God and I are working on, and He has given me many beautiful opportunities to trust that change, though it may involve letting go, is not in and of itself a bad thing.

We had our first frost this week.  Sunday morning, I peeked outside to see if anything in our garden had survived.  My heart sank a little when I saw the leaves of our summer basil blackened and once robust squash leaves looking like limp dishrags on sticks.  How I loved our summer garden!  And now, it is gone.

But the first frost of the season also means harvest.  That same day, I plunged my gloved hands into the soft earth and pulled out the sweet potatoes that will soon be on our Thanksgiving table.  It was a delightful, subterranean treasure hunt.

sweet potatoes!             

This is only one example of the changes I have seen this fall.  Though the letting go always makes me wistful, I am trying harder to look ahead – to smile for what was, instead of crying that it is no longer.

There was a time in my life when change, especially the endings of things, would have sent me into all-out panic mode.  Not anymore.  I have learned to trust the hand that turns the seasons.  I have lived long enough to see that things have a way of working out.  I have grown in faith enough to know that there is treasure under the surface of whatever change I may be facing. 

I feel that I should pause here to offer a caveat.  I don’t mean to suggest that grieving is wrong.  Quite the contrary.  Grieving is normal, healthy and biblical.  I am referring here to day-to-day, season-to-season, year-to-year changes which may cause discomfort, but do not devastate.  In either case, a little faith goes a long way to soften the blow.

What changes are you facing this fall?  Do you welcome change, or do you fear it?  Do you see the loss or the harvest? Perhaps most importantly, do you believe that whatever change God allows you is ultimately for your good?  (It is, you know.)

There is a season for everything.

There is a reason for everything.

Trust now the hand that turns the seasons…

…and leave the reasons to Him who is for you. 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV)

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You know the amazing idea that hit you while you were stuck in traffic?  Do you remember the one that splashed you in the face during your shower?  How about the one that woke you in the middle of the night and kept you from sleep? 

Pay attention to those.  They are pearls from heaven.

Whenever I have created something good – whether it is a piece of music, a blog, a recipe, a children’s book, whatever – I am keenly aware that the idea did not come from ME.  I am merely a conduit for God. 

In the case of music, a melody will wind its way into my thoughts, and I simply take dictation.  It’s as if I’m back in Music Theory class with Dr. Rosenkranz as he plunks out a bit of song on the piano for the class to write out on staff paper.  When a melody pops into my head, I know it is God, the Composer, dropping a pearl from heaven.

Sometimes, I sit at the piano, hands folded, and I’ll ask, “What key?”  A key and meter flash in my mind.  I place my hands on the ivory, and music that had not existed on earth until that moment is born.  I am certain the music already existed in heaven, but it won’t be heard on earth until I catch the pearl.

But here’s the kicker.  So many times, I catch a pearl… and then let it drop to the ground, unrealized.  I determine that no one wants to hear the melody, or read the books “I” write.  I decide that the idea came from me, and therefore, isn’t very good.  I listen to negative self-talk about success being meant for others, not for me.  I give audience to the enemy’s whispers of doom, gloom and doubt.  In so doing, I become the wicked servant in the parable who buried his master’s treasure rather than expanding it for his glory.  (Matthew 25)

Dropping pearls is dangerous.  If you drop them too many times, or fail to catch them at all, you may not be trusted with them anymore.

So… have you had any great ideas lately?

Treat them with care.

They are pearls from heaven.

 catching pearls from heaven

P.S.  Did you notice the new blog title?  It hints that there are changes (i.e. additions, not subtractions) ahead for this blog.  I caught a pearl!  🙂

-wwh

 

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Legacy

I am unearthing skeletons.  Exhuming secrets.  It’s not really what I intended, but when you follow a thread of curiosity, you must be prepared for the unexpected.

My mother has always been the record-keeper of the family: whose great-great-grandmother married whom on what date, which cousins are twice removed (does anybody really get that?), birth dates, death dates, anniversaries, etc.  The whole genealogy thing seemed a big bore to me.  Why should I care?

But I am middle-aged now.  If my life follows the insurance agent’s actuaries, I am half-way through that dash between my birth date and the date God waves me in to home plate.  I will likely have descendants, not just ancestors. 

I am not the end.  One day, there may be a great-great-granddaughter who thinks the particulars of my life a bore.  In light of this, I decided that perhaps my ancestors deserved a little more honor, more care, more respect.  After all, they were people like me.

So I began to research.  Through www.ancestry.com, I am peeking into the lives of the family members who lived before me.  It has been anything but boring.  There are mysteries.  There are lies.  There are cover-ups for sins.  There are essentially good people, making mistakes, fumbling, struggling, and trying – just like me.  Yes, you would be surprised what the records will show about a person’s life.

If some days hence, my great-great-granddaughter takes a peek at my records, the way I have lived during my vapor of a life, what will she see?  Will she see that I messed up a lot, but that I have been forgiven much?  Will she know of my struggling faith, and the faithful God whom I serve?  No, she won’t see that from the census records, or my birth certificate, or my death certificate.

But she will know.

Yes, she will know.

On Sunday, my older daughter was confirmed into the church.  Dressed in ivory, hair up, heels, she looked so beautiful, so grown up.  Side by side, we served communion to the congregation, signaling that she has not just passed some test to “get in”, but has agreed to live her life in service to God.  As people came up to receive communion from my girl, I knew…

The faith will go on.

My faith…

Her faith…

Her daughter’s faith…

That is what I hope my great-great-granddaughter will find – when one day she goes looking for skeletons to exhume.

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It was a beautiful day – crisp, blue skies, cool air, falling leaves.  It was a horrible day – screams, fire, unthinkable evil.  It was each.  It was both.  One decade is not enough to make sense of the dichotomy, to reconcile the extremes.

The eyes are the windows to the soul, and we peered into them, the black, starless night of cold eyes.  We saw evil.

 

 

We saw faces of courage, honor, and loyalty.  We saw love.

 

 

 

On that day, we saw the depravity of humankind.  We saw its capacity to inflict unspeakable pain, its ability to destroy life – the gift that is life.  Against that crisp blue sky, we watched it.

 

 

Too many.  Too many people died.  Too many good people with their song still in them.

But others were born.  Life emerged, if defiantly.  Life happened anyway.

If we continue to look at the destruction, the hatred, the evil, if we continue to peer into the gaping mouth of hell, if we fear, if we hate in return, then they have won.

But if we resolve to cherish life, to care more deeply, to love more intensely, to inhale intoxicating fall air, to take in a crisp, blue sky, to reach out with all we have…

…well then, LOVE wins.

We have a choice.

Will we prove their assumption of our greed, or prove them wrong with our generosity?

Will we respond in kind, or will we respond with yet more kindness?

Will we serve a god who says, “You must die for me,” or the God who says, “I must die for you.”?

We did not choose what happened that day, that beautiful, horrible day.

But we can choose now.

We can choose love.

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For recovering perfectionists like yours truly, failure is a curse word.  Failure is at best unthinkable, and at worst, catastrophic.  To fail at something would mean that I, personally, am a failure.  But this week, I failed at something – and it was good.

As part of my no-more-whining-about-the-way-things-are approach to life, I signed up for a few sessions with a personal trainer.  Stacey Parrish, my trainer, is a body building champion.  Nothing jiggles on her.  Nothing.  Dear readers, meet Stacey:

 

staceyparrish

 

By contrast, her client is a middle-aged mom who has indulged her affection for chocolate chip cookie dough a few too many times.  Many things jiggle on me.  (Don’t worry.  I will spare you the photo of me in a bikini.  Wait.  I don’t even own a bikini.)

In our most recent weight-lifting session, I tried so hard that I failed.  That is just what Stacey was hoping for.

“Failure is good!” she said.  “That means that you have worked the muscle as far as it will go.  You’ve reached muscle failure.” 

Apparently, the point at which the muscle fails is the point at which the magic starts to happen (i.e., more lean muscle mass, less flab).  I may want those weights to move with all my might, but they will not – until Stacey actually helps me to lift them.

This happens in life, too, doesn’t it?  We try so hard.  We work ourselves sick.  We chase after things, people, dreams, careers and perhaps even ministry.  And sometimes, in spite of all our trying, we fall flat on our faces. 

We fail.

But like muscle failure, this is when the magic happens!  When we at last come to the end of ourselves, God is there to do the heavy lifting. 

There is no such thing as failure to Him.  Everything is under His supreme control.  The moment we feel our weakest is the moment He really goes to work.

Have you failed at something?  Then give thanks!  Thank Him for what He is about to do in your life.  Thank Him for being there to lift the burden.  Thank Him in the midst of failure.

Then sit back, and watch the magic unfold.

 

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”  (1 Corinthians 1:25, NIV)

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Sometimes the smallest events can be lessons from heaven.  I just got one.  The teacher?  A bonafide jerk on the freeway.

My mother-in-law is here for a visit, and rather than try to squeeze a lunch out of an empty pantry, we thought we’d go out to lunch.  As we drove down the road with my ten-year-old daughter in the back seat, I became aware that the guy behind me was getting intimate with my rear bumper.  I was already speeding (ahem), so I didn’t go any faster.   I couldn’t really move to the next lane because it was fairly occupied by other cars.

That made him mad.

He got within kissing distance of my bumper, and then darted into a gap in the right lane.  Just as he passed my mother-in-law and daughter on the passenger side (at probably 80 mph), he expressed his feelings in no uncertain terms.

That’s right.  He stuck his arm out the window and flipped us the bird.

Without hesitation, my husband’s mother raised her hand and returned his gesture – by blessing him with the sign of the cross.

Ha!

Honestly, that was not what I thought of doing.  If I had been alone, I might’ve shouted some choice words from the comfort of my car.  (With the windows rolled up.)  Jerk!

But my mother-in-law is older and wiser than me.

So we prayed:

“Dear Jesus, that man must be a very angry person.  Please help him to be calm and not hurt anyone today.”

Even after praying, I felt … violated.  As if he had spit in my face.  But scripture worked its way into my mind.  God’s word spoke softly to me, like a gentle melody.

“A soft answer turns away wrath,” it whispered.

“Do not return evil for evil,” it instructed.

“Love your enemy,” it thrummed.

And eventually, I exhaled. 

Calm. 

Mercy. 

Grace.

Mr. Roadrage Man , wherever you are, I really do wish you the best.  You must have had a really crummy day.  Or maybe someone mistreated you.  Or maybe your mama never taught you any manners.  Whatever your situation, I hope you find peace.  I pray you find Jesus.

Much love,

Wendi

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I almost quit blogging.  I came face to face this weekend with what I thought was a disparity between being “Christian enough” to have a faith blog… and where I am.

I joined 649 other women from 44 states and 4 countries in Concord, NC for a conference of Christian women speakers, writers and ministry leaders.  It is a conference for those who are serious about spreading the gospel.

Then there is me.

I came away from the conference feeling totally inadequate to speak in His name.  Ill-equipped.  Not Christian enough.  If I tell you what reasons I thought others might find me unworthy to write a faith blog, you might laugh at me.  Or perhaps you’d be convinced to unsubscribe from this blog immediately.  Either way, here goes:

  • I do not raise my hand(s) in church during songs.  I like praise songs, but do you know what really sends me over the edge?  This music right here.  I am incapable of listening to this without being moved to a puddle of reverent, emotional, holy adoration.  A Bach fugue on a giant organ in the hands of a master organist sends me, too.  (I also like Alison Krauss, Sting, Ella Fitzgerald, Dianna Krall, Colbie Caillat, etc., etc., and I happen to think that Eminem is outrageously talented, even though he cusses too much.)
  • I am often confused about the man/God Jesus.  Sometimes I even doubt the whole trinity thing.  Yup.  Thomas and I would’ve been friends.
  • I love a good wine/food pairing.  I also like a margarita with Mexican food, and a good beer with a burger.
  • I have gay friends, some of whom are the godliest people I know.
  • Every so often, a colorful word will escape my lips.  (You can take the girl out of Montana…)
  • I do not read my Bible every day.

Well?  What do you think?  Are you ready to hit the unsubscribe button?  A few days ago, I would have if I were you, too.  But let me ask you this: what makes someone “Christian enough” to share their faith?  And does our imperfection make us unworthy to speak in His name, or does it make Jesus approachable?

If you unsubscribe, I’ll understand.  Really.  No hard feelings.

If you stick around to read my chicken scratches, please forgive the areas where I may be less faithful than you. 

I pledge to you that I will be authentic in what I write.  Otherwise, why would you believe me when I say that there is a God who loves you wildly, beyond all reason, beyond our puny human understanding, beyond what you can imagine?

Nobody has all the answers.  Nobody is without mark or blemish.  If you have ever felt that you are not “Christian enough” to go to church, to speak His name, to ask for His help, I would ask you – no, implore you – to think again.

Certainly, you are not perfect.

But most certainly, you are enough.

“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!'”  (John 20:27-28, NIV)

 

 

 

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