Things to Ponder

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Lessons from my child

I’ve learned many things being a mom.  Most of what I have learned has come from my kids.  I’ve learned that the killer whale is not a whale but the largest dolphin in the dolphin family.  I’ve learned there is a difference between dolphins and porpoises.   I’ve learned that pulling nails from fence posts is fun and that ladybugs will bleed on you when you pick them up (the yellow tuff the leave on your hand is actually their blood)!  I’ve learned a wide range of things from my kids.  However it’s the personal lessons that have stuck the most.  

So it way past bedtime and I let them all know that the time for bed has arrived.  My youngest who just seconds before was laughing throws herself face first onto the couch and with the most pathetic voice moans “oh I’m so tired; I just want to sleep on the couch.”   For some reason this just irritated me.  I had let them stay up late; we had ice cream; we had fun; and now she wants to pull the mopey, whiney card.   

Fast forward fifteen minutes and she is still standing in the living room.   By now I have been quite clear in my words that she was to go get in bed.  Seeing as this stalling is a nightly habit her claims to needing water fell on my deaf ears and she immediately received a swat on her hiny.  This of course broke her heart and the two of us walked hand in hand to her room.  

We talked about her choice and how obedience is very important because God wants her to obey her parents.  Sobbing she threw her arms around my neck and said “I’m sorry mommy.”  My arms wrapped tightly around her and whispered “I forgive you.”  She just kept repeating over and over that she was sorry.   I asked her why she kept saying sorry when I told her it was over and she was forgiven.  Her answer “I have 2000 ‘I’m sorries’ and until I get them all out I won’t feel better.”

Oh how my heart broke.  I wanted her to know so badly that it was over; that she was forgiven; that there was no lingering punishment; that there was nothing to feel guilty about because that’s what forgiveness is.   It is being released from the wrong action committed and being granted freedom.  I explained over and over that she was forgiven and it was over and done with.  With her arms still around my neck and her tears still flowing she said I’m sorry again and again. 

I laid in bed with her; pulled her in tight and just stroked her hair as she sobbed. There was nothing more I could say.  She knew the truth; now she had to choose to believe it.   As I laid there silently begging her to believe she was forgiven God spoke to me.  He said “Annette; do you believe you are forgiven?  Do you truly understand that? Do you see the freedom I have given you?  Do you get it now?   I’ve been holding  you close, my child, stroking your head waiting for you to believe that you are forgiven; that it is all over; that there is no guilt and no lingering punishment.   That’s what I mean when I say there is no condemnation.   Do you get it?  Do you believe you are free?  You don’t need to keep saying I’m sorry for things already forgiven; it’s over and done with; only you are holding on to it.  Let it go and enjoy the freedom waiting for you.”

 My daughter showed me a picture of myself and how I have been saying 2000 sorries not fully grasping the truth.   Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation  for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  For those of us who are his children we have a beautiful freedom to live life and enjoy every second guilt free!  

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6 Funerals and 2 Weddings

This past year I’ve said more goodbyes and gone to more funerals than I have to weddings.  Have I reached that age? The age where weddings and birth announcements switch to funerals and obituaries?  I sit here on the eve (well technically it’s the morning before but “eve” flows better) of my next birthday pondering life’s beginnings and ends.  The conclusion I’ve come to is that I must be getting old. 😔

In Memory of RKR

Music flows from frozen fingers once again. 

Crippling arthritis has lost its war.

Son, father, brother and friend are the names which you were given.

Jesus is the face you now see.

You can play for Him for all eternity.

Shredded and Shattered

What do you do with deep pain?  The kind that shatters your foundation?  The kind of pain that leaves you drowning in an ocean?  

Forgive.

Yes I’ve done that. I honestly forgiven. I don’t hold a grudge or wish hurt on the perpetrator. Yes I have forgiven; but I still hurt!  

My heart hurts, it aches. Healing has not yet happened.  What do I do with this pain?  How do I let go?  Everything has changed; all joy has left; hopes and dreams demolished… Everything I thought to be true is now in question.  

I want nothing more than to go back in time and prevent this from happening and yet that is not possible.  So what do I do?  Where do I park this hurt?  

I know I need to take it to the healer; in my head I know He is the answer. My heart is so devastated and truth so shaken I just don’t know if I can risk it.   My foundation has been shattered; my truth proven false.  I’m not sure I  have the faith needed to bring it to Him.   

… 

Can I risk my heart again?  Can I trust him to gently hold the shreds of what was once my heart?  I’m just not sure … I want to say yes I can and the truth says I can… My heart just doesn’t know if it can take another blow.  

God, help!

Perseid Meteor Shower

Bear with me as I try to get this thought out.
Last night/early this morning I went out to see if I could see anything from the meteor shower that would be visible. Knowing full well that absolute darkness and clear skies are needed I still thought I’d give it a shot. So I went out to back yard in the middle of the city. I did some quick research to find out where to look: up and to the darkest spot you can see.
So I craned my neck in the most uncomfortable position to see directly above me and stared at the darkest spot above my head and waited; and waited. About 20 minutes later a bright flash streaked across the sky and was gone before my brain even registered there was light. I thought I was inventing things so I kept watching and waiting. Another 10 minutes or so later another bright light flashed and sailed across the sky and disappeared. This one however lasted long enough to for my brain to recognize it before it faded out.
Happy with my 2 sightings but wanting so much more I came back inside and got the small foam mattress and a couple of pillows. I took them all outside and got comfortable. As I laid there staring at the darkest spot I could find I saw 2 more tiny streams of light zip across an inch of sky and fade out.
The harder I stared at that one dark spot the clearer my vision got. But as soon as I looked away from that spot my eyes would readjust to the light and those pin prick stars would disappear.
A verse came to mind; “the heavens declare your glory.” The heavens were having a fireworks display for God; showing off His wonder for all the world to see. I thought this so cool I began to ponder it and even went so far as to bargain for more from God. Just let me see one more big one please…. I begged. Yes I had already seen 2 large ones but I wanted more.
As I lay there watching the night sky lamenting the fact that I live in a city and have city haze and light pollution obstructing what I can only assume was a spectacular scene I had a thought. This is what it is like to see God in my everyday life.
To see Him and know He is there I have to go to a place of no pollution. The light pollution obstructed my view of the meteor shower. Sin in my life is the same as light pollution; it obstructs my view of God and creates a haze making it difficult to see Him clearly. The clouds that covered the sky making it difficult to see the stars are like the things in life that I put before God. Clouds are good things and they have their place but on a night when you want to see a meteor shower they are not good. Things like family and friends are good things and they have a place but they should not come before God.
To see Him in all His glory I have to make sure I have focused on Him like the dark spot in the sky. The more I focus on Him the clearer he becomes and the more I see. But when I turn my eyes from then the clouds and the pollution become my focus and the stars fade just as my view of Him fades. He is still there like the stars are but I have allowed my focus to to change.
I thought wow God a show and lesson cool but can I see one more big one please? He quietly answered with this idea; you asked for one and I gave you one. You doubted its reality so I gave you a longer one you couldn’t doubt. Now enjoy the 2 I gave you. Be happy with my gift to you and stop looking to have bigger and better. Sometimes I get so carried away in wanting more I miss the joy of what I have been given already.
So 2 lessons that came from one meteor shower… My mind is overwhelmed with how awesome God is right now!

Psalm 19:1-4 “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.”
Tonight the heavens are shouting God’s name across the skies!! Isn’t God cool???

Cats and Screen Doors

It was 75* in the house this morning by 9:30 am.  I am a cheep skate and I love 75* so no I was not going to turn the A/C on for those who were feeling a little warm.  (I know I’m so mean)  So in order to make things more comfortable I opened windows and the back door.

Now for most people opening the back door is no big deal, for us it is huge!  Our sliding screen door broke about 5 years ago.  My darling husband attached some hinges to it and it worked for about 2 years and then fell off.  So when we open the back door it’s  open, there is no screen.  This for some is not an issue either; for us… let me just say 2 inside cats and 1 outside dog.  Can you get the picture?

This is where necessity leads to ingenuity.  We have an old crib rail that we have used for so many different things, so why not one more.  Placing the crib rail down between the door and the chest of drawers makes a great anchored gate, the dog cannot get in and the cats have to work a little harder to get out.  Yes I know it isn’t much of a stopgap for the cats but we usually catch them  as they are climbing up and over and they turn right around and come back in.

So with my genius “screen” door in place I set about doing the things that need to be done, and the girls got busy on school work.  “Mom! Wildfire went outside!” yells my eldest daughter and at that Wildfire turns around and jumps back over the rail to the safety of the house.  So while not the most efficient way of keeping the cats inside it works.

About an hour later I realize that I have not seen Wildfire, so off I go checking all of her usually hiding places and I cannot find her.  Ella (the other cat) is following me around as I call “Here Kitty, kitty.”  While I appreciate that Ella responded it got old really fast!  I wasn’t looking for her!

I tried to not panic, or at least not let anyone else know that in my heart panic was very close to overtaking me.  The kids realized that I was still looking for the cat so they began to look too.  We all came up with nothing.  Soon my wonderful husband realized the panic creeping in was about to over take the situation and he dropped what he was doing and went looking.  We went outside for the 3rd time, calling, “here kitty, kitty,” and still only Ella responded.  I wanted to be angry at the girls for not stopping the cat the 2nd time she headed out but I knew I couldn’t… I was the only one to blame.  I was the one who left an escape open and didn’t watch more carefully.

I thought I would check one more time all the secret places she likes to go.  And do a more in depth search of those places.  So off I set to my daughter’s room to look under her bed yet again.  This time I thought I would check every square inch.  As I’m shining the flashlight up I see that her box springs is missing the covering so the wood slats are exposed.  Sure enough as I craned my neck trying to see up under the box spring I see a twitch.  I instantly called out to say I had found her and really hoped it was true, not a figment of my imagination or some extra large rat!

With the cat found and the tsunami of panic avoided my wonderful husband closed the back door.  Makes sense right?  Well my pouty heart cried and I said, “but I wanted fresh air.”

He very loving said, “do you want fresh air or the cats to stay inside?”  He instantly saw that I wanted both so he set out to fix my problem.  He found the old screen door and shoved it into place and wedge it there.  He didn’t complain, he didn’t comment; just fixed my problem.

I thought for sure he was frustrated at my childishness so I very quickly did my best to make sure that he knew I was grateful.  I said thank you at least 3 or 4 times.    I was getting ready to tell my girls how great their dad was because he dropped everything to help me with the cat; and he hates cats, when God hit me with a 2×4

It was in that moment, my eyes were opened and I saw a clear picture of God.  When I get lost, or have a problem, I use my own ingenuity to “fix” the problem  And while it might sort of work, at best it just slows down the problem.  It is only when I go back to the secret place where God is and I search for Him that I allow Him to provide a solution.  Had I gone to my dear husband in the very beginning and said is there a way to fix the back door I would not have had an escaped cat to deal with, no panic to push down, and no guilt to battle.  Once I drop my attempts to fix whatever is going on and I give way to God, he willingly drops everything to help me.  The help may not be a screen door to let fresh air in, it might be for now the door needs to be closed but he will always gladly step in and help.

I will not soon forget this object lesson!  Thank you Lord for teaching me in such a vivid manner, and help me to never forget to turn to you first!

When God Says “NO”

When God says No

    Have you ever found yourself completely disappointed with God?  Have you asked Him for something only to not get what you asked for?  Doesn’t the Bible say that we should ask, seek, and knock so the door could be opened to us?  What about that verse that says, “delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”?  Or the verse that says that whatever I ask for in prayer if I believe I have received it I will get it?  So why does God say no even worse, not say anything at all.  Why does He leave us wondering and waiting?

Let me tell you a story.  A few days ago our family had a tremendous opportunity fall into our laps.  This was a crazy wild possibility.  But it was one that we go pretty excited about.  Yes it was only a possibility but it was so hard to dream about it being a reality.  We pursued this offer, we thought, wow Lord, this is amazing!  This would solve all of our problems!  Yes it would be hard work, but it would be work we would love!  Yes there was and initial financial burden but surely God would work that out for us.  So we went forward, sure that this was God’s next step in our life.  Positive that we were finally going to see good things happen for us.  We were so convinced that this was it, we had now arrived, or shortly would be arriving to the land of milk and honey.

Long story short, we did all we could and then had to put it in the hands of others.  It wasn’t for us to decide, it was for someone else to choose us out of 2 other options.  So we prayed and prayed, we got others to pray with us, we just knew this was God’s will.  Monday rolled around and we didn’t get the call.  There was no email.  About lunch time the email arrived… it was short, simple, to the point.  “We chose to go with another proposal.”  In short, we are not picking you.

Our world dropped out from under us.  WHAT???  What do you mean you are not picking us?  God this was your plan for us, how could they not pick us?  Yes we asked you to open or close the door but surely you didn’t really mean for it to get slammed in our faces.  How is this possible?  Lord, it was our heart’s desire… we thought this was your plan for us.

Ever felt that way?  Ever been completely blown apart because God said no?  We are still pulling shrapnel out of our hearts, we were so sure.  I was so sure.  I had prayed my heart out, why didn’t God grant us this?  I spent all day Monday, asking God why.  Reviewing all we had done to see where the mistake was.  I found myself in tears, heartbroken over this dream that had just died.  And it wasn’t a slow death it was and execution.  Not a lethal injection go to sleep death of a dream no, this was the brutal firing squad; a 1000 bullets shot in my direction shattering the dream; a nuclear bomb dropped on my heart leaving no evidence of it ever having existed except the giant gaping hole where the dream used to be.

What now?  What comes next?  We were so sure of this plan; we had started making plans for the future, and now?  Now…

The more I questioned God, the more that I cried and fought to try to understand why this happened the more I was pushed to His word.  Truth is, the last thing I wanted to do was read His word.  I didn’t want to read about His unfailing love, His mercies being new every morning.  I didn’t want to read about how he promised to never forsake me or leave me.  I didn’t want to do any of that, I didn’t want to hear any words of wisdom, and yet in my heart I was craving it.  I was desperate to understand why I felt abandoned.  Why would he show us a glimpse of what we could see ourselves doing and loving only to yank it away and say “NO”?

Even though my brain resisted my heart won out and I find myself searching out God’s word, and what to do when He says “NO”.  What have I found?  Anything of comfort?  Yes and No.  I have found many examples of God saying no to people in the Bible.  He told David no when it was David’s dream to build the temple.  He told Zachariah and Elizabeth no to having a child, later He did say yes but it was way later.  He told Hannah and Sarah, and Rachel no to having children as well.  The yes did come later but for many years they carried the burden of a dream shattered.

Here is what I have found.  God uses “NO” and “WAIT” a lot in the Bible.  And He has good reasons for saying no.  Just like I do with my children, they get a lot of nos or not nows.  I want what is best for them and in order for them to get to that place of best they have to sometime endure long waits and nos.  The same is true with God.  He has amazing plans for me, the best He has for me will blow every good thing I can think of out of the water.  So why does this no seem so hard to accept?  It’s hard because my selfish hard got ahead of the plan.

God uses no and wait for a couple of different reasons, 1) I have the wrong motives or 2) to teach a lesson.  James 4:3 says  “And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.”  Ouch!  I never thought about my nos having a direct relationship with my motives.  Do I say no to my kids because they have wrong motives?  All the time!  For some strange reason the idea of God doing that with me seems like a surprise.  Maybe because I have believed the lie that if I believe it hard enough God will grant me my heart’s desire.  And there it is… that little word that takes God from being my loving Abba to a genie handing out wishes.  God doesn’t grant, he gives freely, lavishly for the pure and simple reason that he wants to pour out His riches on me.  The word grant comes with the idea that a request was made first.  If I can remember that God wants to lavish me with his love and riches because He loves me and for no other reason then maybe the nos to the things I ask for wouldn’t hurt so much.  Today’s no brings me closer to tomorrow’s yes, the best yes He was me to have.

So if I have wrong motives then I definitely need my Father to say no.  What about His teaching me a lesson?  What lesson does God want me to learn?  He wants me to see that it is always good to serve Him whether or not I get anything physical from it.  Job is a great example of what it means to serve Him no matter what the outcome.  Job lost it all, and in the end God brought him the best of what God had planned for him.  Would that have happened had Job sinned and turned away from God?  I don’t know but I do know that through it all Job learned just who God was.  It was a hard lesson to learn but He learned it well.  Do I know who God is?  Do I fully trust that every yes, no, or wait is because His divine plan is grander than my own?  I think somewhere deep down I acknowledge that truth, the question is do I put it into practice everyday.

I understand the yes, no, and wait answers.  I use them myself all day long with my children.  But sometimes I answer with a wait or no having never really heard what my child asked.  I think every parent does that, we sort of tune out and give a nod or a “in a sec” response to appease the child but never really hearing their request.  God always hears.  He never just gives out and answer without hearing our request or without having “thought” through the question.  God already knows my requests, and he already knows what His best for me is, but He loves it when I come to Him and ask.

Proverbs 15:29 says that He hears the prayers of the righteous.  1 John 5:14 says that He hears us and gives us what we ask for.  Sweet!   Wait, the verse says, He gives what we ask for when we ask for something that is in accordance with His WILL.  Not my will.  Meaning, no matter how much I may want it, if it doesn’t line up with His will then I am going to get a no.  Every verse that I have been able to find that talks about God answering prayers and giving me what I want all have this little condition attached.  It has to be in agreement with His best for me.  If it isn’t in His best for me then I am going to get a no answer.  And maybe it is in His best for me but I am not ready for it, so I get a wait.  Psalms 145:19 says that He will fulfill the desires of those who fear him.  Psalms 37:4, Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Every reference of scripture that talks about my getting something comes with a conditional tag.  If it lines up with God’s best.  If I fear, have reverence for Him, if I have delighted myself in Him.  When I have made God my center, my all it becomes so much easier to accept His no or wait because I am already in tune with His best plan and my desires and dreams match His!

So Lord, help me understand that your “no” isn’t because you are being mean or trying to rob me of joy.  In fact it is the opposite.  Your no is because my dream doesn’t fit in with the best you have in store for me.  Help my heart to rest in your promises that you have plan to prosper me and give me a future.  Help me be content to wait on your best.

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