Great is Thy Faithfulness

There are many words here on my blog.  I’ve had lots to say over the last several years.  many, many words.

The truth is, tho’ I enjoy expressing myself with the written word, I have one true love. music.

Previously, I’ve not posted any of my own music here on the site.  I’ve kept it simple.  But today, I need to share a bit more of myself.

You see, Michael and I are walking a dark valley,  watching a friend  who is battling cancer.  And were it not for this sweet, abiding peace that comes only from the Holy spirit, it would be absolutely devastating.  I am grateful on difficult journeys, like this one, that I find He is more real, more present, more loving than I ever imagined.

I could type out the words of the hymn and just leave it at that.  But I’d rather give you the song.  It is an old hymn that I recorded quite a few years ago, but it truly portrays the Savior I know and love, who is absolutely, incomparably faithful.

Great is thy Faithfulness


 

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,
As Thou hast been,Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

 

no offense taken…

So, the day was going along quite nicely.  It really was, and I was feeling successful.  So successful in fact that I  told a friend it was a “banner day.”

Not long after that, my kids and I managed to get out the door with time to spare, which never happens.  It wasn’t until we were halfway to our destination that I realized something important.  I was supposed to bring along work gloves so that I could take them to Michael, who was picking up lumber after work for our back yard fence project.

Well, I couldn’t turn back now – it was too far back to the house.  And so, I called my father-in-law (their house was the initial destination) and I asked him if I could borrow a pair of work gloves to take to Michael.  He just laughed and said that he’d look around for a pair.

It wasn’t until I hung up the phone with my father-in-law and was talking to my husband that I realized what I’d done… because Michael questioned me, “You asked my dad for a pair of gloves?”  in a tone that made me feel quite ridiculous.

banner day over.

Friends, you may not know, but I have an amazing father-in-law.  He is very wise, and full of more common sense than anyone I know.  He’s more active than most men his age, gardening and helping Michael with the shop.   However, due to an accident at work, my father-in-law only has one hand.  a left hand.  But, he typically doesn’t keep those right handed work gloves…

embarrassment ensued.

As we wound our way up the highway, to the top of the mountain, I was horrified.  And I knew I must apologize right away.  ASAP.  Hopefully I could smooth things over.

When we arrived at their house, I begged forgiveness – but, he wasn’t concerned at all.  In fact, we laughed it off, and I knew I had been given a beautiful gift : the gift of  “No offense taken.”    It is hard to come by these days, in a time when everyone is looking for things to go their way, unwilling to allow differences or mistakes, let alone offer forgiveness.

As I drove  around town, running my errands, I couldn’t help but see all of  the budding trees turning a fresh green against the bright blue cloudless skies.  It was a tangible reminder of spring, and its renewal.

Jesus promises new beginnings – that he will make all things new.  This promise applies to my sinful heart and my wayward deeds. He has done everything necessary to remove our offenses, and offers full forgiveness and a completely renewed life.  He can do this because of His incomparable sacrifice.

Here at this time of Easter, the Passion Week underway, Jesus says, ” I forgive.”  He holds no offenses.  The one who deserved no punishment – took all of the offenses on himself.

from Isaiah 53: 5-6

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

 

All of us who believe in Him, yet offend every day and need the grace of His forgiveness, have no reason to hold offenses in our hearts…  ever.   Often, I take offense, completely unable to forgive, tho I have no right to do so. Jesus’ work on the cross allows me to forgive others.  always.  just as he does.

My father in law was authentically Christ-like today.  and I’m very grateful for his example.  and for a Savior who forgives unconditionally.  May I learn to receive that forgiveness more fully so that I can give it away.

 

 

old hat, new hat

When I was a little girl, my dad would read a book to me called, “Old Hat, New Hat.”   It is about a bear who goes into a hat shop looking for a new hat to replace his old one.  It was my favorite book.  The best page was the one where the bear tries on all of these different hats and you can see him trying them all on, but he doesn’t like any of them and so he says, “too beady, too bumpy, too leafy, too lumpy, too twisty, too twirly, too wrinkly, too curly.”  And in the end, Bear puts on his old hat, saying, “just right!”  and he leaves the store.

I’ve been thinking about the book a lot over the last week or so.

There can be a lot of distractions in my female world – distractions that complicate my calling as a woman, wife, mom, sister, friend. And if I’d like, there are a lot of hats to wear.  Step into the boutique and try on a “new you.”  Believe me, there are some good causes,  some helpful changes that might make a “better me.”  I’m not suggesting otherwise.  But every hat needs to be tried on with the right perspective.

In Christ.

No matter what I’m hoping for, is it something that I can do, “In Christ”?   I can obsess about my weight, or healthy eating and exercise.  I can spend hours considering my children and their education or their manners.  There’s my work, my identity as a musician.  Or, am I a good baker, runner, gardener, housekeeper?  many, many hats to keep me busy…

But truly, what good is it to be the only mom on the block who manages to cook only healthy meals for her children, and never a crumb of junk food, if it isn’t what Christ has asked of me?  I would love to become that Mom, but I don’t have the capacity for it  24/7 in my life right now – and He hasn’t intervened to help me be that Mom in the way I expected.   That doesn’t mean I don’t try to change some of our habits, or we shouldn’t be healthy eaters…  but maybe that new hat “Healthy Super Mom” is a no-go for me.

So, lately I’ve been attempting to filter all these ideas of “what I could be” thru this lens – and this is what helps me remember that I already am a NEW CREATION:

Scripture from 2 Corinthians to help me think clearly:

13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.  16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Questions to ask myself:  By putting on this new hat (whatever that may be) is it worthy of His sacrifice?  Am I choosing it for myself selfishly, or is His Spirit whispering it in my ear?

Reminders for my heart:  I am reconciled to Christ, in spite of my sin or wrong doings.  I do not have to live in guilt or fear of his disappointment in who I am or who I think I should try to be.  I am hidden in Christ – and that makes me a beloved child of the Heavenly Father.

No matter what other hats I think I need to try out, this is the best hat that I will always wear!

Heavenly Father, thank you for your forgiveness and the reconciliation I find for my heart in your Word.    May I never forget who I am in You!  amen.

dogwood beauty

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Right now there’s a dogwood tree in our backyard, thick with lovely white blooms.

It didn’t bloom when we first bought the house.  Hidden in the shadows of a large, overbearing Hickory, I suppose it didn’t get enough sun.  For the longest time I wasn’t sure if it was dead or alive, or if it was truly a dogwood, because I had never seen it flower.

Two summers ago we cut down the giant Hickory.  Lo and behold, our little dogwood bloomed.

When the hickory was still standing, I hadn’t noticed it, but the truth is, little dogwood tree had grown up in such a strange shape.  Some would think it is deformed, its shape is so bent and strangely figured.

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But, I know – our sweet little dogwood that once was affected by the dark shadows, is now set free in the sunshine, growing into the dogwood tree it was meant to be.  It is stretching up in new directions.

I’m reminded of this truth in my own life:  There are times and seasons for the shade of disappointment and suffering, but also times for the sunlight of growth and great gains.  It is true that the struggles of life may have a part in shaping who I am.  However,  after that darkness, when the full, honest, light of the Son begins to shine in my life, then I find myself becoming the beauty he intended, blooming with the fruit of His Spirit.

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secrets

Measles.  She was in a panic about the measles.  There’s an outbreak, my friend said, and some kids even with the vaccine had come down with measles.    What else can be said?  Modern medicine works hard to eradicate a terrible illness, and still it rears its ugly head.

I sat there quietly, because I probably know the truth.  But, I don’t really like it.

We all, and I do mean to be that all-encompassing, spend our lives striving.  We take medicines, we exercise, we spend enormous amounts of money on our health, in order to add hours, maybe even days to the length of our lives.  Regardless, at the end of the day, the truth?  It isn’t doable.  We can search for the keys to long life and and health and such, but they are elusive.

In Deuteronomy 29, God chooses to renew his covenant with the Israelites.  The entire chapter is spent reciting what He has done for them, and reminding them of how they should respond.  Then the final verse of the chapter says this:

29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Secret things.

A good friend, struggling with his health has often been a physical reminder of these words.  No matter what we do, and what we think we know – there are things we will NEVER understand on this side of eternity.  Our Heavenly Father claims some secret things, answers to questions that only He knows.

My first thoughts about this revolve around this question: Why?   God, why do you have to allow things I don’t understand?  Why can’t you let me in on the secret?  Why should one have a long full life, while another’s life is cut short?

And I don’t know His answer.

But, I do know: the things that He has revealed belong to us.    What does he say in Matthew?  Don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow has enough of its own cares.  Not one of us is able to add to our height.  It is no secret that He promises to care for His children, to meet our needs, and to love us without condition.

And so, I realize what is required of me:  Trust.   Without full disclosure of the secret things, I have no control.  There is only surrender in exchange for all that striving.

no regrets, only grateful…

I’m sitting here typing at my kitchen table, breakfast dishes littered here and there, half -done coloring pages (courtesy of mackenzie), medicine bottles scattered around, and clorox wipes…  And of course, in the very middle of it all, is my wooden centerpiece of Jesus carrying the cross.

It is March 31 and we are almost halfway thru Lent, to the Resurrection.

I’ve not written in a week.  Mostly because I’ve been unable – due to the most ungodly, disgusting, wretched stomach bug I’ve ever met.  And between myself and my kiddos, my house and my life in general feel completely out of sorts.  But, at least I finally have a few coherent words to put together today.

When I was talking to the Lord early this morning, I had a few things to say.  I told Him how I felt about all of it.  You see, I was angry.  For many reasons, too many to mention here, this stomach bug has been awful to bear and also terribly inconvenient, in this space on our calendar.  Now my personal agenda is all messed up.

Why should we have to deal with so much?  *arms folded across chest*

And when I was done, I sat there knowing I needed to change my selfish, faithless thinking.  My heart needed to regroup.  But how?

As I sit here now, staring at Jesus holding the cross, the one only He could carry, I’m terribly embarrassed.  A picture of sorrow and sacrifice boldly looking me in the face.  And I realize I know nothing about suffering.

My heart’s reversal came as I read this just now:  Jesus is praying in the Garden -

Luke 22: 41-44   He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me.  Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”  Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Him.  He prayed more fervently, and He was in such agony of spirit that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

Jesus’ example of surrender to the Father’s will is amazing to me.  Such a severe future – and yet, he prayed and was strengthened.

I gaze at the image of Jesus and his cross a bit longer.  It’s not that His surrender was without struggle or cost.   No, indeed He suffered a tragic and horrific death.  But, with the price He paid, He purchased a gift.  His resurrection brought about eternal life for all.  This gift is the robust hope that we have, by grace; through each of our own struggles and pains, we know that there is hope :  Hope of God’s Kingdom coming to earth.  Hope of God’s love surpassing all of our trials.  Hope that death is ended…

Thinking about my current trials and suffering, they seem so mild and insignificant compared to His.

My heart finds peace in this knowledge:  His will in my life is to bring all of the bits and pieces of my story into His complete story – Once I understand this, I realize whatever happens, my surrender to His will brings surreal comfort and peace.   And truly – I cannot regret the situation I find myself in, but rather grateful that I’m able to be hopeful in Him.

against the wind

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Last evening while I was finishing up the dinner dishes,  my hubby sat down at the dining room table with my kiddos – with one of his favorite books and a stack of plain white paper.

Airplanes.  paper airplanes.  They started looking at a page, with just the right design, examining the folds, reading and following the directions, preparing for the outdoors.    Carefully they created.  In the meantime, Michael was explaining how it would work.  To them, this was serious fun.  To me, it was learning in progress.

The plan:  1. make stellar, sky-worthy planes.  2. fly them from the deck of the shop out back. 3. gather planes from the yard.  4. repeat.

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Out the back door, down the steps they scrambled, across the yard, and up the steps of Michael’s workshop, ready for aviation success.

Now, it was quite a breezy evening down in our part of the valley.  and I had a feeling things may go differently than they planned.   Who doesn’t know that a tiny piece of white paper sailing across the sky has no control over the winds from Heaven?  And, you certainly can’t sail against them.  Their only option: surrender.

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I grabbed my camera, and caught the project in action.  And even as I snapped shots of these little planes being whisked wherever the swirls of breeze wished, I had a few thoughts.

I’ve been spending a few weeks now, the feeble little piece of human being that I am, trying to gain control of the winds that are altering my life’s path.  I’ve thrashed against the winds blowing, trying to make things different, even though they are completely out of my control.

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As uncomfortable as it is,  I’m reminded of these words from  Job 23: 9-10.

When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him;
When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him.
But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.

What is necessary for me?  total surrender.

The same God, who is in control of the winds, has set His flight plan for me. and I need to set my course to blow peacefully along those currents, rather than trying to fly against them.  Though I can’t seem Him, I can trust His way.  Surely, I should know this by now, shouldn’t I?

Just like those little white paper airplanes working overtime against the breezes in our backyard last night, all that flapping I’ve been doing is meaningless.