Giving Birth…Again

Have you ever agreed to a project and said, “How hard could it be, right?”

Two movie lines come immediately to mind:  Gone With the Wind – “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies!” and Tootsie– “How much trouble could a baby be?”

Back in the fall, I agreed to a project and now it is finally “born”.  With all the birth pains of an actual human birth, this stage of the project is completed. It has been the biggest project I have ever undertaken so far in my life besides childbirth.

Last fall, as Kit Hinkle and I were chatting on the phone, she mentioned that she was putting together a devotional book of our AWM articles.  God prompted me to just offer to take it on.  So I asked her if I could help her out and take this off her plate.

Never. That is how many times I have published a book.  That is how many times I have edited a book.  That is how many times I have even thought about writing a book.

God has a way, doesn’t He?  He nudges us just enough into something until we realize we are TOTALLY dependent on His strength.  I have learned so much.  So. Much.

I jumped in and gave it a start.  We had our first look at what I had finished when our team met for the first time at our retreat in March.  We were all so excited to see the potential, even though there was a long way to go.  Several of my team sisters became “mid-wives” and helped edit with me.

And this week I turned the summer edition of our daily devotional book into the printer.  I kid about giving birth and, just like a new parent, I am beaming with delight.  But all the delight comes from following God’s prompting and seeing Him follow through with the project.  This is His book.  This is His ministry.  This is His widow.  This is His.

Soon and very soon, we will make this daily devotional for summer available to YOU.  There are so many widows without the opportunity to read our articles that we have available on-line. We want to make this encouragement available to them.

Pray for this huge endeavor, friends.  Pray we will market it appropriately.  Pray that we will be the vessels of His leading.

And follow the prompting of God in YOUR life.

Trust me, if I can do this, you can do whatever He is prompting you to do.  Follow His lead, even when it feels like you are crawling through mud.  He will give you the wisdom and strength to complete the task.  Eat the elephant, one bite at a time.

 

Buddy the Dog and Me

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28 NIV

Since adopting a puppy, we have had lots of stories:  stories of chewed up shoes and clothes; stories of terrified neighbor children.  My favorite stories are the ones that happened as daddy was trying to leave for church after I had already gone early for orchestra.  Buddy the Dog would inevitably drag some item out of the garage and wait for daddy to chase him around.  Once Buddy dragged out the electric hedge trimmer still in the box and ran wild in the backyard.

This past winter, we had some very cold days (at least for the south!) so Buddy was given more opportunities to stay inside while we were gone.  One particular day we were trying to leave to go somewhere and there was Buddy running around the back yard with trash in his mouth.  We chased him around like idiots, yelling at him and calling him a bad dog. Nothing worked.  Nothing made him drop his garbage so he could be allowed into the warmth of the house.  Here is a family dressed in Sunday clothes, chasing a big black dumb dog around the yard for trash!  It didn’t take me long to give in and leave him out.  We were initially sad about leaving him outside but that changed after I convinced the kids that it was his stupid choice.

He gave up the opportunity for warmth in order to hold onto his garbage.

When I told the kids that there must be a spiritual application somewhere in this story, one teen said, “God gave us dogs in order to see ourselves.”  Pretty insightful!  Are there times I have found myself holding onto the “garbage” of my own way while God is calling me to the warmth and peace of His will?  Do you ever find yourself there too?  Like Buddy the Dog, we keep running around with our plans rolled up in our mouths.  We have ideas, plans, lists, but they aren’t what God has in mind for us. It keeps coming down to my will versus His will.  Pride versus humility.  Accepting His plan for my life, and living that life for His glory and not my own.

I hold onto that garbage and run around the yard!  I don’t want to let go of it…But I have to let go of it in order to follow God.  He doesn’t make me drop it.  He doesn’t chase me with a large stick like I may or may not have done with Buddy the Dog.  He promises that His yoke is easy.  Yokes never give the idea of ease but perhaps we need to stop pulling at the yoke or trying to go where the yoke doesn’t fit well.

But never in the sense that “easy” means “without trials”.  When Jesus told the disciples that they needed to cross the water in a boat and, while they were obeying Jesus, they encountered a storm, they were right where God wanted them.  The Apostle Paul went through a lot of difficulties while following God.  I think it has to do more with a humble acceptance that we are right where God wants us to be, right where He can use us to help someone else, right where we can bring glory to Him, right where we totally rely on Him and not ourselves.

So when I look at Buddy the Dog, I ask myself if I am choosing the garbage of my way instead of the warmth of God’s will.

Father God, You call us to Yourself.  You offer the promise of Your yoke being easy.  Guide me today as I follow Your will and not my own.  Help me to drop the “garbage” in my life, drop the constant urge to perform for Your love, and just accept the love You offer and the warmth of following Your will.  Thank You that You don’t force us to follow but that You lovingly hold Your hands out to us.  Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Those Tears!

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. – Revelation 21:4a

How do you feel about tears?

I know that I have cried my share…maybe more than my share. They come at different times and for different reasons…but they come. On this journey, they come.

In doing some research on tears recently, I came across some information so amazing, so touching, that I just had to share it.

I learned there are three kinds of tears, each for a different purpose. Some of the tears we cry are to get dust and other foreign objects out, and to clean the eyes after (antiseptic). Others are to lubricate the eye for the regular operation of the eyeball. The third kind are the emotional tears.

These are the ones I have become much more familiar with in the past six and a half years since Keith died.

They come when I am stressed at raising these four boys (who even as I type this are calling my name with needs). They come as I watch these same boys turn into men who are making me so proud, and would make their dad equally proud. They come as I sit alone in church, missing holding Keith’s hand at prayer. They come as the car breaks down, as the toilet breaks (again), and as the house needs repainting. Not constant like they were in the beginning, but still the tears come.

My research led me to Rose-Lynn Fisher and her study called The Topography of Tears . In this study, Ms. Fisher photographed 100 different kinds of tears. The pictures are fascinating! They describe tears of all different kinds, for all different reasons.

Here are tears from onion-cutting:

pix #1 for 5-14-14

Here are tears of laughter (totally different):

pix#2 for 5-14-14

But this picture was the one that drew me most…the picture of the tears of grief.

pix #3 for 5-14-14

As I looked at the picture, I thought of all my own tears of grief. That is when one part of this picture came clear into focus for me. Do you see it, ladies?

In the lower right quadrant of this photo I see…a cross!

Oh, sweet Lord! How incredible of You to put a picture of the cross right in my falling tears! You are so there with me that You put Your instrument of healing right there for me to see!

Sisters, we may cry these many tears, but He is there in each one! Really, physically there! With this evidence, how can we not trust Him in all this?

I recently read a quote by the great theologian Charles Spurgeon:

The vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.

This morning as I write this, I praise Him because my tears are for a reason…for an eternal reason. God is using them to grow a better me. He promises…and shows me right down to the very fiber of the tears themselves.

Father God, thank You for being part of every aspect of my life, even my tears, and for writing the promise of them into my heart as You have in the tears themselves. You are worthy of all my praise. In Jesus’ precious and holy Name, amen.

Resurrection Joy

by Rene Zonner

In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not hear; he has risen!”

Luke 24:5-6

We in the Christian world just celebrated the event that defines our faith…the resurrection of Jesus…Easter. 

For most of my life I’ve had a hard time truly understanding the despair of Jesus’ followers after his death. After all, I had the advantage of knowing how the story was going to end.  I knew that there was a happy ending.  I can look back and see that I really couldn’t understand the depth of their joy when they saw Jesus alive on that first Easter morning.

Until my husband died…

The first Easter after his death was different.  For the first time, I could really empathize with the loss Jesus’ followers must have felt.  The person they spent almost every waking hour with for three years was dead.  They, like me, were surely questioning what they were supposed to do next.  Who were they now that they weren’t a Jesus follower?  There was probably a sense of disbelief.  Could this really be happening? I’m certain they felt that sickening feeling in their stomach, the one that happens after you wake up in the morning and for a brief moment have forgotten that your husband is gone…then the truth smacks you in the face.  I’m sure their futures looked bleak, there was uncertainty, questions hurled at God.  All feelings that I knew so well.

That Easter was the first time I could truly understand what Mary felt when she encountered Jesus in the garden. I imagine that she was confused.  I’m sure she doubted what she was seeing at first, wondered if she was imagining things.  But then, once it sunk in that Jesus was alive….oh the joy!  Can you imagine what joy you would feel upon seeing your loved one again?  I don’t know if there are even words to describe it.  And of course, I would run to tell everyone I could about the miracle that happened….just as Mary did.

None of us will be able to experience what Jesus’ followers did by having our husbands walk this earth with us again. But the promise of the cross is that we will be reunited at the time of Christ’s return. When Jesus returns and restores things as they were meant to be, we will once again see those who have gone before us in Christ.  Can you imagine that day?  The joy of seeing all those who we knew in this life but lost, the excitement of seeing face to face all those saints of the Bible that we never met, fellow believers from all over the globe and time together in one place.  What a glorious day that will be!

As much as I am looking forward to seeing all those that have gone before me, there is an even greater joy waiting for me on that day.  Seeing Jesus face to face.  I imagine that moment will far exceed anything I have ever felt before.  To see the love in his eyes as he welcomes me home, the gentleness in his voice as he calls me by name…oh, what a sweet day that will be!

Sisters, as we come out of this Easter season, let us not forget what it’s really about.  The promise of being reunited with our husbands and other believers is a sweet and precious gift.  It’s one of the reasons I have been able to walk this journey and not be beat down as one without that hope. But it is so much more.  The promise is really about being reunited with Christ.  It’s about being restored to communion with God as it was meant to be all along.  It’s about finally being all that we were meant to be.  That, more than seeing John again, is what I look forward to with anticipation.

Father, I thank you for the hope we have in the resurrection of Jesus.  I pray that each one of us would remember, when we are sad and beaten down with grief, the promise the cross gives us. We look forward to the day when we can be with our husbands again and worship you with fellow believers we never met here on earth.  While we look forward to that day, help us to keep our focus on the greatest joy, Lord.  The joy that will come when we stand face to face with you, our Savior.

Amen