Peace for the Day

Devotions for our daily angst.


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Love Lessons Learned from Mom

I’ve invited my dear friend Gayle to share today. God has a way of using our mothers – and our children! – to teach us. I was so frustrated with my parents when they wouldn’t allow me to help them. In my rant to the Lord, I heard, like Gayle, “Ah-ha, maybe you’re not so different from them. I stand ready to help you if you’ll let me.”  Enjoy my dear readers and send your own lessons learned to us.

Mothers!   It’s so much easier to see another’s faults, isn’t it? So much easier to remove the splinter from someone else’s eye rather than yank that beam out of my own. My relationship with my own mother recently brought this home to me in a big way.

My elderly mother and I have never had a warm and fuzzy relationship, and we have lived very different lives. As she has aged, I’ve had a difficult time adjusting to caring for her needs while at the same time living my own busy life. Folks my age have been described as the “sandwich generation” for just this reason.

As I drove to pick her up for yet another doctor’s appointment, I discussed my frustrations with the Lord. She’s stubborn. She ignores the things my brother and I tell her she should do or not do to avoid troubling physical conditions. By disregarding our advice, the inevitable happens, and the very people who tried to help her avoid the mess in the first place are the ones she calls to clean it up. This is a pattern with my mother, and I was resentful and frustrated.

Suddenly, God opened my heart. I do the exact same thing! How many times had He instructed me to do or not do a particular thing, I ignored his warning, and I ended up reaping the consequences He tried to help me avoid? Then what would I do? Run crying to God asking Him to clean up my mess—a mess He did everything He could to help me avoid in the first place.

But how did my heavenly Father handle it? Did He talk down to me, sternly reminding me of His words with an “I told you so!”? No. He just loved me unconditionally and pulled me out of the muck and mire. He didn’t even remind me of just how many times I’d wallowed in the same mud pit!

I humbly admitted what He already knew: that I wasn’t offering the same forgiveness and patience, the same unconditional love and understanding to those dear to me. And the truth is I am fully capable of loving the way He does, because the Holy Spirit, the Helper, equips me with the ability to do so, if – and it’s a big if — I let him.

Driving down the road that day while praying for a smooth trip to the neurologist with mom, I recognized that she was the iron God was using to sharpen me. It was a reminder to me—as both His daughter and hers—that I am still a work in progress and my mother, no matter what her age, still has things to teach me.

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend [to show rage or worthy purpose]. (Proverbs 27:17)


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Love Lessons

I’m skewered by texts. The family issues first mentioned in my blog titled Focus continue. I do what I always do, what I’ve always done – I grieve and talk to the Lord.

Me: I’m wounded, Lord. This situation really hurts. (Is there anything in the Bible about being wounded I ask myself. When I see the first verse that pops up, I smack myself in the forehead. Duh.)

Jesus: Take heart. I was wounded so you can be free. The Romans lashed my body so all could be healed. When they crushed the crown of thorns down on my head, it was for your peace of mind. I long for everyone to be whole. (Isaiah 53:5)

Me: Yes, but it’s someone I love. Someone close to me. Someone I trusted.

Jesus: I know. I get it. It was my close friend, remember? Someone I trusted, who ate my bread, who walked with me, who laughed and talked with me, who lifted up his heel against me. It’s hard, isn’t it? (Psalm 41:9)

Me: But, Lord, what’s being said isn’t true.

Jesus: Think about my trial when I was brought before Pilate. Many people talked about me. They lied. Finally, two men were found who declared, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the Temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’” They twisted my words. (Matthew 26.61)

Me: So what am I supposed to do? Should I defend myself? No one will listen anyway.

Jesus: Remember when I stood before Pilate? When the leaders brought accusations against me in front of him, I chose to remain silent. He even asked me, “Don’t you hear what they’re saying?” Pilate was surprised when I said nothing. (Matthew 27.14)

Me: I don’t know how you stood there, silent. I wanted you to tell them off just like I want to be catty and snarky right back, to tell my side of things.

Jesus: Grace. My grace is sufficient. My lovingkindness and mercy are more than enough, always available, whatever the situation I’m here right beside you. All of you. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Me: What do I do? What can I do?

Jesus: The most difficult thing of all and yet, the simplest. Love. Work at love. Lift patience and kindness. Practice contentment. Put others first. Forgive. Rejoice in truth. Be assured, my love for all of you will not fail.

Me: There’s not anything I may go through that you haven’t already experienced, is there?

Jesus: No, there isn’t. Hope, faith, and love. These three things remain, but the greatest of these is love.

Beloved, if God so loved us [in this incredible way], we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:11 AMP


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Just Breathe

Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. (Psalms 46:10 AMP)

 If you read this blog regularly, you know that decision making is not one of my strong suits. Whether it’s due to an alcoholic father, the need to be good enough, fear of failing, or all them wrapped together in one anxiety-ridden ball, the ability to make decisions haunts me.

 Really. I’m sixty. I should be over this.

It all started with an opening on the Maryland Writers’ Association (MWA) board.

Buckle up. Here goes nothing. This is the real me – unwrapped and uncensored.

Twenty hours a month to be president of MWA but how much time would I spend thinking about it and what do You think I should do can’t You text me it would be so much easier that way and no I don’t know why I want to do it other than the opportunity is there and what about my writing there’s not enough time for the writing especially with the chunk of time pulled out in the middle of the week to work and I’m not complaining Lord no I am not thank you for this job it’s perfect but it is a lot of time and I may not have much time left one of my classmates died in January that’s it for her over kaput done and what if that happens to me You gave me an idea for the next novel but I don’t know how to execute it and maybe I should just give it up and what if the idea isn’t from You anyway but it’s so cool so it has to be from You but please help me figure out the best way to tell the story it’s so interesting but maybe I should just write funny maybe that’s what I should be doing or not writing at all because I can’t really write and I’ll never succeed but wait I already have succeeded and been published and been told by people who should know that I can write so just be quiet self then there’s the cat and the operation and his age and the money what to do did You notice the heat pump sounds funny what if we have to repair that Lord I just don’t know what to do and I need You and I can never get myself quiet not anymore it’s too hard oh my head it’s going to explode.

It continues as I get in the car to drive to work. All the radio news stations – left, right, and middle – are on commercial. (It’s a conspiracy.) The Joel Osteen channel is taking callers. I prefer to hear him preach. In desperation, I flip to the Christian station and I hear these words by Jonny Diaz being sung.

 JUST BREATHE

Just breathe. Come and rest at My feet. And be, just be. Chaos calls, but all you really need is to just breathe.

 I laugh out loud. The tension, that wrapped-tight-around-the-gut tension, melts away. God has got a sense of humor. And He didn’t even need to text me. ©

 

 


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Love

 Flag of FranceIn light of the tragedy in Paris, I want to recommit myself to living life on God’s terms, in love. Not sexual love (eros) where I am the center of the universe. Not kindred love (storge). Not brotherly love (phileo) where I do for you and you do for me. But, God’s kind of love. In the Greek, His love is translated agape. It is a selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, and the highest of the four types of love in the Bible.

In John 13: 34, 35 (The Message) Jesus tells the disciples, “Let me give you a new command: Love (agape) one another. In the same way I loved (agape) you, you love (agape) one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love (agape) you have for each other.”

In the same way I loved you –

How did He love me?

For God so loved the world, he gave…

He died so I could live.

Father God – I cry out to You for the hurting, the wounded, the shocked in Paris. If ever we needed You and your love, it’s now. Comfort those who mourn. Bring healing and healers to Paris. Expose those who would continue to harm us. Help me to walk in Your love and to bring Light and Life to this world. I chose to love. In Jesus’ name I do pray. Amen. It shall be so.


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Trust

Trust

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go. He’s the one who will keep you on track.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6 Msg)

Trusting God, after knowing Him thirty-one years, should be easy. After all, I have the advantage of hindsight. I look back to see His steady hand leading me here, guiding me there, meeting needs beyond what I could hope, ask, or dream.

But…

For me, there always is a “but”.

Here’s the scenario. A dear friend is stuck in one of those boxed-in, no way out, through, under, over, despairing, dark, and hopeless times life brings us. He can’t fix the situation. He can’t kick, yell, scream, or buy his way out. The people who love him don’t have the means or ability to help. It hurts to watch knowing all we can do is, well, pray. I want to fix this. Now. I want to raise my fist in the air, storm the gates, and make this horrible situation right.

I decided to write him a note. I’ve been in the exact place, a dark tunnel with no end in sight, just different circumstances. I contemplated what I would share.

And then it came. The thought.

Yeah, but, what if God doesn’t do anything? What if God doesn’t come through for him?

That’s the question, isn’t it? What am I going to believe? Who am I going to trust?

Do I trust God enough to tell my friend God will take care of him? Will be with him through this long night until the light of day pierces the darkness?

My husband says, “Once you tell him, it is God’s problem not yours.” Nothing is ever that easy for me. I struggle with faith, trust, believing. I feel guilty that I’m even wondering. God has been faithful to me all these years. Why wouldn’t He work in my friend’s life? I cling to God for dear life. Does my friend? Does it matter?

Father! I can’t believe I’m even wondering. I’ve walked with You long enough that I should trust You implicitly. But, here I am back at square one. I’m sorry, Lord. Help my unbelief. Help me to share all You have done in me and my life with this precious friend and, then, let go to let You work. Father, I commit the situation to You, the God who is able.

©


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Honor

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier GuardsThese people draw near Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts hold off and are far away from Me. Matthew 15:8

Instead of a donkey (Numbers 22), God used a television show to start me thinking about honor. (Such an old fashioned notion.) The use of cursing God’s name as a basis for the majority of the dialog caused me discomfort and led to intense internal discussions. I cringed every time I heard the characters swear but, in truth, I didn’t want to stop watching. It took me a few weeks and a lot of wheedling with myself and God to finally conclude I could no longer watch the show. By doing so, I was not honoring Him.

About the same time, I stumbled across Mark 6:4-6 NIV. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

The wonderful thing about reading the Word is that no matter how many times I’ve read one verse, in a moment of clarity, I understood it in a totally new way. I noticed a link between honor and faith and miracles. The people in his hometown did not honor Jesus; therefore, He could not do any miracles there.

Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology defines honor this way – “to give weight or to grant a person a position of respect and even authority in one’s life”.[i] We hear about very few miracles across the church in America. Could it be, I wondered, connected to our lack of honoring Him? We don’t grant him the position of respect and authority that we once did. Bringing it closer to home, I examined my life. Do I honor God?

Honor is not an idea to be worn like a badge. It’s a core value that requires action. At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery, the Honor Guard protects the tomb 24-7 365 days a year. The maid of honor helps the bride prepare for the wedding. Medal of Honor recipients acted valiantly beyond the call of duty. Students elected to the National Honor Society maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average and participate in extracurricular activities.

I want to honor God, in practice. I yearn for the Holy Spirit to nudge me when I’m not. Like Chris Tomlin sings in the song Amazing Love “It’s my joy to honor You. In all I do, I honor You.” That’s my prayer.

[i]  http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/honor.html


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The Gift That Keeps on Giving

…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:8

I love my family and the friends who are as dear to me as family. I treasure each and every one of them and the time we spend together. For my 60th birthday, they gave me the grandest gift – all of them all together for an entire day. We gathered at my daughter’s home for an afternoon of laughing, talking, playing, and, as it developed, singing around a blazing fire pit late into the night.

God gave me this treasured gift before I knew to ask. Ephesians 3:20 tells us He is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams]. This He did with His usual extravagance.

One day a brown-haired young man with twinkling green eyes and a quirky sense of humor walked into my life and my heart became his. Who knew the blessings that would ensue because the Air Force recruiter was closed for lunch and the Navy recruiter was open? This “happenstance” brought him to my little part of the world at the submarine base in Groton, Connecticut. Who could foresee the day we met we’d be blessed with a wonderful family woven together over a lifetime with dear friends into a beautiful tapestry?

Not me, for sure. I didn’t even know I needed one. But God did.

The Bible is peppered with familial stories of deception, lies, cheating, manipulating, controlling, disdain, forgiveness, love, and grace. Cain killed Abel. Joseph’s brothers hated him. Isaac and Rebekah, playing favorites, pitted their sons against each. John and Andrew’s mother pushed Jesus to promote them above the other disciples.

In families, whether immediate or the greater community, we rub each other like sandpaper smoothing out the rough edges. We strengthen and hold each other up. We stretch one another to the limits. We learn to depend on God because, sometimes, it all goes wrong and we break.

I’m grateful God knew what I needed before I even asked. I would have missed out on the greatest blessing – joy, love, heartache – family.