Our youngest daughter painted rocks at church on Sunday. She was most excited about the paint because it glows in the dark. At home she took me into the pantry to show me their glow. I thought of these rocks the next morning, as I was reading in Joshua. One man from each of the twelve tribes was instructed to go back and pick up a stone from the midst of the Jordan River, whose water rose up in a heap, creating a dry path for the Israelites to walk right through to the other side. They took the stones as an act of remembrance for the generations to come.
Maybe you have stones of remembrance too, each a reminder of something only God could have done. I wondered if maybe I need to paint ours with glow in the dark paint for when times appear dark. When tempted to be discouraged, we could catch the glow of a stone and remember God was with us then and is with us now. Very encouraging!
One more lesson from the fallen tree seems right for today. Because sometimes when something is uprooted, there is more to learn. In this case, a piece broke off the fallen tree and was wedged deep into the ground. It took my husband two hours to dig the piece up and he saw there was even more damage done. A couple of sprinkler pipes were broken and wires disconnected as well. I had to ask if this meant anything? Was there something else that needed removing in me? The answer came in Bible study, a bit of rebellion remained in my heart. Out it came and the repairs were made. Maybe more of the Living Water can flow, to overflowing is what I am asking for, and to become more childlike in trust.
Apparently I am allergic to a certain type of antibiotic. My body reacted with hives while we were driving to North Carolina. Treating one problem led to quite another. It is strange to look in the mirror and not look like yourself, but more medicine and I am better. It did make me wonder about other internal things and the effects that are not so obvious. It also caused me to want to rid myself of anything, physically and spiritually, that was contributing to anything less than God’s healthy design.
The days passed and we had a great time as a family. Giving and receiving gifts is one of my favorite things. And I guess God was not finished giving, because on the drive home, we got word that a giant oak tree had fallen in our yard. The root system had been compromised and extreme temperatures left the 100 year old tree unhealthy. The unseen roots were now exposed and there was some damage. However, I could not help but think what an amazing picture this was of what I had asked of the Lord. Extremes can expose what is not healthy in us too. Deep roots of fear, guilt and shame unearthed from my heart, then taken away by the Christ we celebrate. Now I ask that He plants only what will bear much for His kingdom, with roots that grow down deep and remain strong when the extremes come.
I read a line in a Christmas devotional that has stuck with me. The writer highlighted character traits of Mary and said how the same traits were evident in the life of Jesus. Humility and obedience are the two that stand out to me most. Because the young girl that God entrusted His Son to be born to, would also be the one raising Him. God became holdable to Mary, then grew up in her care. Humility and obedience would be needed for what He came to do. I wonder how she lived her day to day life demonstrating these traits? What was her own mother like?
Since God places children in our care too, what do we have in us that they need to live out their purpose? More questions and a desire to find out.
Today we celebrate our youngest turning nine years old. Her name means lively and this is the perfect description of this child. She is a sweet friend, quiet at times, but confident. She is trying basketball this season and should be fun to watch. One of the cool things about children is letting them try new things. You never know what they will excel in or learn from. I like being apart of this and want to document along the way. It is also exciting to watch her learn about Jesus. She has her own way of getting to know Him, more of an observer, taking it all in. Soon I think she will make her own decision to trust in Him. There is no other gift greater.
Monday was my mom’s birthday. Since she now lives in heaven, I decided I can still honor her here. When I think about my mom, the first word that comes to mind is beauty. She had outward beauty, that even strangers noticed and a quiet, inside beauty those up close got to experience. With these thoughts and memories running through my mind, I was not surprised when they collided with what our group has been studying in the scriptures. We looked at the life of a man named Elijah, who trained another to continue his ministry. This man was Elisha, who asked for something I would never have thought to ask. He asked for a double portion and only knew he had received it after Elijah was gone. What would I ask to have a double portion of that my mom had? The answer came quick and that is beauty. Not on the outside, but the inside kind that lasts. What would that look like? How can God use this to carry on what my mom began? Questions without answers, but asked to the One who knows.
This sweet picture, taken eight years ago, came up on social media today. It made me smile, until I read the sentence I put with it. This boy of mine had put ornaments on a tree and declared each one perfect. I had said I rearranged them after he went to bed. Why did I not just leave them? Now I miss the days that our home had plenty of evidence that young children reside here. Isn’t this home as much theirs as it is mine?
Not even thirty minutes had passed and I was given another chance. Grace works like that sometimes. This same boy was helping me load the dishwasher. Given the basic instructions, he helped and I left his work. Maybe we are both growing.
One of our boys turns thirteen today. He is a party waiting to happen. If you need cheering up or a good laugh, he is your guy. Everyone needs a kid like this in their life. With so much energy, he functions best when he is serving and thrives while doing so. There is this look in his eye, one that lacks fear, and I know God put it there. It reminds me to relax and enjoy what is right in front of me. He has this way of seeing opportunities and making the most of each one. Age does not matter to him, for he believes a person is worth knowing at any stage of life. This will continue to serve him well and make life so much more enjoyable. And since his dream is to be a professional golfer, he is going to get to enrich many lives, I just know it.
Paxton, my prayer for you all your days is that you continually remember that it is God who will strengthen you, help you, who takes hold of you with His righteous hand. (Isaiah 41:10). And know that I am cheering you on! I love you!
We sang a song on Sunday, that I have continued to sing all week. It starts with a question or maybe a statement, depending on the heart. The words are perfect for this day, “How good is He.” Words about stars and salvation, forgiveness and second chance. I noticed no mention of our goodness, only His. That is what tops my thankful list this year and the rest comes easy.
A new song was just released that came out of grief. After reading the lyrics, I had the thought that there is nothing that splits a heart like sorrow. Loss has this way that breaks your heart wide open, but it also allows us to experience Jesus differently than before. How else would we ever know Him to be the healer of broken hearts and binder of wounds? To know about something is not the same as knowing it personally. With the holidays approaching, maybe you feel the losses, sorrow a bit more too. What if we allowed Him to be who He says He is? I picture Him walking through our wide open heart, slowly stitching and bandaging us up. The bleeding stops and we rest awhile. Then He reaches out His hand, that was once wounded too, and helps us to our feet. We don’t ever have to let go you know. We get back to living, mended and whole, with a soft heart. A heart that now has depths of compassion and love that were maybe shallow before the loss. Thanksgiving and generosity would flow and maybe peace would too. Now is the time for us to decide how we will walk out this season. What will we choose?