“Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” (Ephesians 3:17).
I learned today that the evergreen tree with the deepest root system is called the shepherd’s tree. It lives in the desert and maybe we feel that is our current location too. Life is not going as planned and we feel dry. We have a choice to search for life on the surface or to grow into God’s love during these times. The result is strength that is gained no other way. Our Good Shepherd knew all the days of our life before we had even lived one. He knew we would need strength, provided unconditional love and is our constant source. There are so many questions and unknowns, but He says that we can be “…like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:3). Sounds like we can be like an evergreen too.
A picture came to mind in regards to our kitchen table. My husband sits on one end, I sit on the other and children fill in on either side. This reminds me of two bookends, supporting the books in between. Each book holds an incredible adventure I want to be apart of. Some pages might read of joy and some are marked with sorrow. A chapter might surprise you at the strength that was gained and another have you laughing until you cry. No book is the same and I admire the creativity God used on each one. It takes time and grace to handle each one. What a gift we have been given with family.
Recently I talked with a customer who gave me a lesson on lighting. Filters make a huge difference and the wrong ones distort everything. I thought about this as I placed clothing in fitting rooms. As often my prayer, “Lord, may this person see themselves the way You see them.” We can have these distorted filters on our eyes and minds that blocks out all the beautiful and highlights imperfections. Who says they are imperfect anyways? Others are missing these filters and see themselves healthy and whole. In my experience these people are rare. What I have noticed is they spend more time inspecting the clothing and not their reflection. One dear lady and I moved into the natural light to determine the brightness of the yarn used to construct a sweater. Before leaving she reminded me to keep my eyes on Jesus and block out the noise of the world. We agreed that we had made a memory, for every time she wears the sweater she will be reminded of our conversation. Perhaps the noise is contributing to the filters we use. So my prayer for us is that we see ourselves and others in the light that filters through with unconditional love and acceptance today. What could be more beautiful?
We listened to an excellent sermon on marriage recently that focused on the role of a husband. The text was familiar, but I had missed an important piece. We went all the way back to the beginning with Adam and Eve. Did you know God allowed Adam to be the one that named Eve? He says it right after they had both eaten fruit from the tree. “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:20). We see that husbands have been given an incredible opportunity to speak and affirm identity. They know us best and can see past our insecurities and baggage into our hearts. And the days when we forget, he can step in as a defender that reminds us of what is true. Other times he can act as protector. When the outside influencers hold up unrealistic measures and expectations, we are tempted to try harder by pushing past healthy boundaries. We end up exhausted, defeated and unable to care for the living. I do not know about you, but this made me extremely grateful to be loved and with even more appreciation for what I have received.
I read a verse this morning and later studied a passage in scripture with a group of ladies. Most of them are new to me, but we are connected by a desire to study scripture. Both times I was reminded that God looks at our hearts and this was such encouragement. Only the One that made our hearts truly knows how they work. He knows when they need to be revived, when they need to be refined and every need in between. We can offer the same prayer that King David penned, “May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14). After all, David was described as being a man after God’s own heart. Can you think of a better description or desire? May the Lord say the same for each one of us when He looks at our hearts.
One of the kids took this picture of us today. We have been celebrating my birthday and its been a good day. One of the things that came to mind, when I saw this photo, is that I am not the same. A year of growing in the same direction changes us. Another year to look back and continue to be amazed at the evidence of our good God. Perfection is not what He asked of me, but wholehearted devotion. He has my heart and fills it with love for this family of ours. I do not know what this forty eighth year holds, but I know the One who already has the story written before even a day is lived. I look forward to living each page.
When the Lord begins to open your eyes, it seems you go through a time of training. Suddenly everything is filtered through this lens and you are amazed that you did not make the connection sooner. I have recently been learning about boundaries. This is new territory in some areas, but heathy and good. As a daughter of the King, part of my identity is holy, set apart, and chosen. God sets clear boundaries of protection around that which belongs to Him. He sees my heart as worth protecting and gave me His Word to act as boundary lines that are not to be moved. The lines given in pure love, guard my heart from being divided. Fear, guilt and shame come up to the line and can tempt me to compromise, but inside the lines I remember what is true. This is a deliberate choice and not always easy, but peace is worth the fight.