Today is your special day and I wanted to honor you with a few words. I hope it is ok with you that a few others will read this little note too.
When I first met you I thought you were cute. I watched you serve all day long beside high school boys in the hot sun and never heard a word of complaint. You had this way of being very comfortable behind the scenes and making sure others shined. You remind me of a quote I read recently that said something like bright lights not needing spotlights. It takes a humble man to live serving others and not desiring praise for yourself. I like that about you.
In our years together, your quiet strength is something I find very comforting and honorable. You are easy to trust. You do not waste time sowing seeds that do not matter, but make the most of your time. I think of your car conversations with the kids, you and Maggie’s breakfast dates and our weekly date nights. How many words of love and kindness have you made sure took root? How many hours have you spent listening?
You live with integrity because you know that is right and pleasing to your Heavenly Father. I thought the group you were asked to be apart of called Better Man was quite fitting. It makes me smile to see others recognize your heart. And you know, our family knows the truth better than most and we would all agree you are one of the best.
So, happy birthday and know how much I love you. There is not any better man I would want by my side.
“For this our God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.” Psalm 48:14
I have absolutely no sense of direction, none. Right and left can be hard for me. Many a time I have called my husband to help me get back home. Yes, I am aware of the whole map thing on our phones and GPS in the car, but I would much rather hear his voice leading me home. I trust him.
The same is true with our God. While we have many options available, only one will take us home. Knowing His voice, while we are moving closer everyday, keeps us on the narrow road. When a crossroad appears, we can hear His voice telling us which way to go. He truly is better than any system the world has to offer. And you know what is such a blessing along the way? Having others on the road with you.
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
Since today we remembered it has been 22 years since our first date, we had to celebrate. We may not have been able to go to the pizza place in downtown Asheville for lunch or to a movie, but we made time for just the two of us.
With 22 years behind us, I had this thought about how incredible it would be to go back in time and have a conversation with my younger self as I was getting ready that day. I would not give all the details about what was ahead, but it would be hard not to smile a lot. What I would like to say to that younger girl in the mirror would be to stop trying to earn your worth by trying to act and look perfect. You can either please people and ultimately serve their ever changing expectations or aim to please the Lord and serve Him. The amazing part is you will be serving people in love and truth in the most beautiful way by setting Him as your first love. I would just look into those unsure eyes and tell her that He is trustworthy. Then I would take a post it and write Galatians 1:10 to stick on that bathroom mirror as a daily reminder of loving truth.
Since time travel is not on the itinerary for today, I will pass this verse on to you. Put it up on your mirror or screensaver if you need it. If you want to be a servant of Christ, pleasing Him should be your top priority. Do not worry if He will accept you as one of His own, for the cross already answered that question. Remember how much He loves us and get busy living loved. You will be stunning!
“For the LORD will not reject His people; He will never forsake His inheritance.” Psalm 94:14
Only the Lord truly knows us. He alone knows exactly what we need and orchestrates our lives accordingly. He knows the brokenness and the goodness we encounter. He knows the choices we make, the good and the bad, and how it can all work together for our good and His glory. The One who made us wrote our story before our day of birth. Why He allows some parts, I do not know, but we can trust Him. Some days of the story are overwhelming good and some are equally as bad. Each part of the story He knows, but what we do with it is up to us.
Doing some Bible study homework today, brought back a memory I had not thought of in years. It was early in elementary school and I went to a meeting to join a club. Moms and daughters were there and we separated into the two groups. The daughter of the mom in charge did not like me and pulled my pony tails. She said some mean things in front of everyone. A few sentences of rejection were apart of my story that day. Just a small event I know, but it left a mark. What makes kids do mean things?
Sometimes the painful parts, even the small lines of our story stay hidden and never brought out. We let those build up and damage is done. As the Lord would have it, I read the verse today about the Lord not rejecting those who belong to Him. It reminded me of the truth and that small wound was healed.
If you feel rejected or hurt in anyway, I pray the Lord lets His word write over the lines of hard parts of your story that were allowed. It might be a small sentence like the one I remembered today or it might be pages long, but let Him do what only He can do. He knows how to take care of what belongs to Him.
“Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard…” 2 Kings 22:19
The Bible is so full of hope and instruction. As I read certain passages, it could have easily been written today. There is so much to learn from how people responded when they were confronted with truth. Some responded in humility and others responded in arrogance. We tend to do one or the other don’t we?
During King Josiah’s reign of Judah, the Book of the Law was found and read to him. When he heard the words his first response was heartbreak, he tore his robes and then sent someone to pray for him and the people. He heard enough to know the consequences of not following God’s word and he wasted no time. The Lord spoke through a woman and her message was honest. The Lord saw Josiah’s heart filled with humility and how he responded. He was spared seeing the disaster of the people.
Perhaps during this pandemic we have also been warned. May we all respond like Josiah with humility, repentance over our sin, heartbreak and turn to the One true God. He is the only One who can save us.
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” Mother Teresa
While we may not be spending time in large groups of people right now, perhaps the smaller gatherings give us wonderful opportunities to listen. With less voices we can hear the one who needs to be heard. We are having to be creative with socializing, but we seem to be figuring it out. We are not running short of chances to love others.
Yesterday I spent time with a precious lady and arrived with fruit salad and a few cookies. I left having had scripture read, prayers said on our families behalf and a bag of books. I came with little and left with much. Isn’t this a wonderful example to copy?
Today our neighbor came to share a story with our family on the back porch. We listened to her heart and she left us with a tangible gift to remember the time and invited us to be apart. We were left better from her visit.
In a short amount of time I saw this quote from Mother Teresa in action. When we read stories of Jesus, we see time and time again He did the same thing; the ultimate act being the cross. We are eternally grateful for His great act of love. May we follow His example.
Our oldest and her dad came home this morning from their weekly breakfast date with wide eyes. Apparently, on their way home the driver of a van swerved off the road and slammed into a deep ditch. They pulled over and the driver was okay. Another person had already called 911. My husband told me our daughters first response was to pray out loud for the driver. Her dependence and trust on her Heavenly Father was made evident.
This might not seem like a big deal to anyone, but she is the one going off to college in a matter of weeks. There will be many situations that are bigger than her and this dependence will be necessary. One could argue that independence is best, but I will have to disagree. For I have tried that stubborn approach and can tell you it is riddled with fear and insecurity. There is a better way and that is the way of the cross. I will warn you, some will think you foolish, but love does that to people doesn’t it?
*Photo by Anna Kate
“This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed…” Lamentations 3:21-22
Want to recall hope together? Then let us recall to mind, as the writer of Lamentations did, the mercies of our God. Perhaps we might need a reminder of what mercy even is because this word seems to be in great decline. It is an amazing exchange of compassion or forgiveness in place of a rightful punishment. According to John 3:16, the whole world is the object of God’s mercy. Some have accepted this exchange and some have not. Those who have accepted should be leading in hope these days. How are we doing?
Because of the Lord’s mercies we do not have to be consumed because we have hope. Because of the guaranteed hope of eternal life, we remind ourselves that this world is not our home. Since we are just journeying through, we do not have to be constantly swayed by the latest reports, stuck in the old way of doing things and withholding love from those we do not agree with. We can march on towards home loving others in our path. We can lend hope where others are running short and share with them our source of hope.
Our smiles might be covered, but we can still communicate hope just fine. Send a note of encouragement, a text reminding others that you love them, meet a need if you get word and be gracious to those closest to you. My husband had to remind me of that last one because today was a day! So keep hanging on to hope because a better day is coming.
“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15
Who is the “everyone else” this verse is referring? The earlier verses reference brothers and sisters, those who belong to Christ, and that would make “everyone else” those who do not yet know Christ as Savior. How do you think we are doing?
Goodness, so often I cannot even get things right in my own home, much less “strive to do what is good” to those on the outside. The pattern I notice is when I am choosing to worry or be overwhelmed, the good I want to do gets thrown by the wayside. Add in these strange times and this mama does not stand a chance.
However, if we keep reading this chapter, I see a clue to help us all. “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (5:16-18). And there we have it. There is much to rejoice over, much to pray for and an enormous about to be thankful for. In doing so, we will be abiding in God’s will for us. The easy thing, the normal response is to worry, complain and choose sides. I say we go another way. You with me?
“Praise Jesus for a house that’s worn because it’s been hospitable.” Paul Tripp
Paul Tripp posted a short video that I caught today addressing hospitality and it was excellent! He reminded the viewer to see our homes with an eternal perspective. I know I get caught up on what others will think when they walk into our home. Will our home pass some imaginary test of being found worthy and therefore seeing our family as worthy? It is impossible to pass and has nothing to do with eternity. What will matter is how people were made to feel loved and the truth that was lived within our walls.
Tripp gave the reminder that hospitality “targets a deep desire in the heart of every human being.” Everyone wants to be welcomed, known, to be loved and to belong. Our homes can be a great place for us to share the heart of Jesus just by how we treat all who come through the door. Granted right now we are not inviting many people in, but we can be practicing for when the day comes. Sometimes the people that sit at our table everyday need to be shown hospitality first before we ever swing wide our front door.
May we all have much to praise Jesus for during these days and beyond.