One thing that I love about vacations is the new people we meet. Some live where we travel and some are only visiting. A few conversations last longer than most and some only in passing. To give someone your time, the gift of being noticed, heard or an encouraging word, only takes an awareness. There is no qualifying, for everyone has the same need. You just never know if a small seed you plant or the question you ask might make an eternal difference as it grows. And I am finding that being generous in the scattering is very rewarding.
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists…” Hebrew 11:6
My view this moment is the ocean. Waves constantly in motion, crashing against white sand. Umbrellas and chairs dot the shore. Every now and then I catch the sound of laughter. In places of beauty I find it easy to believe that God exists and it takes very little faith. It is the everyday that faith and existence takes a bit more searching. Maybe that is because beauty gets overlooked in the familiar. Perhaps even taken for granted in the ordinary coming and going of family and daily life. Makes me even more thankful for time away to refocus on beauty that waits to be noticed in the everyday.
When the kids go outside in the morning to catch a glimpse of the ocean, I tell them to leave the door open so I can hear the waves. The truth is I want to eavesdrop on their conversations. This morning a brother and sister sat together and talked about her fear of being too far from the shore. She said she was afraid of the big waves. Her brother came up with an idea. “What if dad tied a rope to you and he hung on to the other end? Then you could go out further out and not be afraid.” I just smiled. Isn’t that what God promises us with His presence? No matter how big the waves of life and the unsettling they bring, He is with us. Now I have a picture of a rope tied around my waist and Him holding on tight. Thanks kids for reminding your mom of truth today.
Twenty three years ago I was a summer intern at a camp in North Carolina. I met a boy from Texas and moved here to work for a ministry. One of the guys I worked for just happened to be in charge of fundraising for a new camp this ministry was building in Colorado. Today, this boy and I put our oldest daughter on a plane to go volunteer for this same camp. If the Lord would have let me in on His plan all those years ago, I would not have believed Him. It really is true, He does more than we can ask or imagine! I have twenty three years of evidence to prove it.
The school year has ended and summer is before us. How will the days unfold? Will the kids get bored and fight? Will bathing suits and beach towels overload the laundry room? Will the smell of chlorine and sunscreen still make me smile? Will the sand from the beach follow us home? Will popsicles be consumed several times a day and ice cream be considered a meal? Will bedtimes be much later and rising come well after the sun has come up? Will family movie night happen several times a week? Yes, for this is the making of summer and I can hardly wait to get started!
When the same verse shows up several times in one morning, I take notice. Today it happened to be, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus wrote out this idea of faith with His very life. So often my eyes seem to drift to others lives and how they are living out faith, but my focus needs to always come back to Jesus. However, I am glad He has given me so many examples. It challenges me to ask what impossible without faith mission He has for our family.
Our youngest little girl climbed into my lap yesterday morning. They had the day off from school so there was plenty of time to read. She picked a favorite book and noticed the silver award seal on the cover. We talked about what that meant and she said it marked the book as good. I told her that she was like a good book to me and I loved reading her everyday. It takes time and attention, sometimes I am running low on both. Each day seems like a page with characters and events, all stringing together to make up the years. Some pages hold tears and others are hysterical. Others are filled with learning and some action, none ever boring if I stay present. I do not want to jump ahead, just enjoy each page, each day as it comes. Besides, I have seven books going at once and today is more than enough for me.
Early in the morning, ten years ago, I got a call from my dad. He told me my mom did not have much longer. Before I even left for the airport, she had died. In the days, weeks, months and years that have followed, a question had to be answered daily. Is God trustworthy even though He allowed my mom to die?
My honest answer would be that He is completely trustworthy, but I am not. Loss makes one feel badly shaken, but I found God to be full of steady grace and mercy. He has not wasted one tear that I have cried. In fact, it seems maybe He collected them to water all the seeds that He was planting and cultivating in this now tender heart. Hopefully, more compassion, kindness, peace, love and joy have flourished over time. And I never find Him to be in a rush as I am growing, a good Father never is. Maybe now that ten years have gone by, I love a bit more like Him. The very One who my mom now sees face to face.
The book fair came to the younger kids school this week. Our youngest spent her own money on a book for me. The book is entitled The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds. We read it together and loved it! When she crawled into my lap after dinner, I whispered in her ear how much it meant to me that she thought of me. I told her how it made my heart smile. She stayed in my lap for quite awhile.
I wonder how God feels when we think of Him throughout our day? When we take time to ask His opinion, guidance or simply tell Him we love Him, do you think His heart smiles too? When we open His book and read the greatest collection of words ever written, are we not amazed and have a million questions? And the more we get to know Him, the harder it seems to leave the awareness of His presence don’t you think? Knowing that as much as I love this little girl of mine, God’s love is greater, it is almost too much for one heart to contain. Maybe that is why I write…
Today we will take steps either forward or backward. We can choose to remember that we never go anywhere where we are not in the very presence of God. It is our awareness of His presence that will determine our steps. We will step forward in love to the unseen ones, the hurting ones, the lost ones. We will step backwards in division, name calling, dividing into teams and finger pointing. One brings life and one reminds us all we are in great need of grace. We can let the Lord determine our steps today in every thought, word and action. We can also go our own way, support our own cause or build our own kingdom. A new day is before us. Let us step in love all the day long.