Rinse and Repeat (Part 2 of 4)

Photo Credit: Eric Drivdahl

Altars of Remembrance are things, places, quotes and moments that mark our lives. In the month of December, I will be sharing four of my life’s markers. This was the topic I spoke on at a recent women’s retreat. I hope you will be encouraged and stay tuned for the remaining posts.

Rinse and Repeat is a phrase used to indicate the continual repetition of an action or sequence of events, typically in a way regarded as tiresomely predictable.

I find that if I am not intentional and tiresomely predictable I will become easily distracted and forget what I am about, what my true purpose is.

There are four Markers or Altars of Remembrance that I know God has asked me to live by. These markers are filters for how I want to see the world and those I interact with.

This post will focus on #2.* (for Part 1 of 4)

Marker #2 Help your sister

The year was 2014 and our theme for the Blossom Retreat was “Bloom Brave”. You may have noticed the beautiful violet growing out of the sidewalk in the photo above? Bravely blooming all alone!

While preparing for this event I attended a minister’s conference and had the privilege to hear Dr. George O. Wood speak. He regaled us with stories of missionaries and their contributions and sacrifices. Dr. Wood recounted the tale of Lillian Trasher who had founded an orphanage in Egypt. Lillian oversaw this orphanage for fifty years and it is estimated that over 10,000 children came and went under her care. Then Dr. Wood mentioned that Betsy Trasher, Lillian’s sister had worked beside her. Betsy had embarked on the same ship to Egypt and had been present for all fifty years. Someone once interviewed Betsy and asked her about her call to missions work. This is what she said:

“I never had a call to missions I had a call to help my sister.”  ~ Betsy Trasher

That quote has forever marked my life. It grips me every time I recall it. It makes me ask myself “Who is my sister?”

So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”  And [Jesus] said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” ~ Luke 10:27-29

As the Blossom team continued to prepare for our Bloom Brave event we encountered the opportunity to include a group of women from a ‘neighboring’ church who did not all speak English. At some point in the preparations, we realized as a team that we were going to be hosting a bilingual event. I remember not feeling brave enough to do this and hearing God clearly say Help your sister”.

There are times where we can be asked to do something that is not comfortable, it lands squarely outside our skill set. In those moments I know that what I am being asked to do may not be my call, but they are my sister!

It is your circus, these are your monkeys!

When we find ourselves faced with a something we don’t know how to do or someone we don’t know how to help we can turn to one of our Blossom Ministries key verses for advice:

…Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear; your God will come,
he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution
he will come to save you.” ~ Isaiah 35:3-4

Just because you don’t know how to do something or help someone doesn’t mean you can’t pitch in and learn, or offer support.

Be brave enough to see someone unexpected as your sister. Then take her hands and steady her knees. Tell her God will come, but in the meantime, you aren’t going anywhere.

 

*Look for Rinse and Repeat (Part 3 of 4) on December 21, 2017.

The original article was published in the Blossom Ministries Newsletter, Issue 3 of 2017.

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Rinse and Repeat (Part 1 of 4)

Altars of Remembrance are things, places, quotes and moments that mark our lives. Over the next four weeks, I will be sharing four of my life’s markers. This was the topic I spoke on at a recent women’s retreat and the theme as you will see was given to me at the conclusion of the retreat the year before. I hope you will be encouraged and stay tuned for the remaining three posts.

I have a tradition…every year for the last 10 years following our Blossom Ministries fall ladies retreat I have closed the door to cabin #611 and I have spoken a word of farewell. Often it is part prayer, part thanksgiving, and part see you next-year-old friend. (This cabin is my friend, “she” is an altar of remembrance.)

In 2016 as I shut the door I paused just a moment longer, placed my hand on the door and I heard God whisper: “Rinse and Repeat, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. What? That is weird! And then I knew…God was telling me to do it again! Keep going…be faithful…don’t stop. God was saying “See you again next year!”

Often I find it hard to believe that anything I do has much value. Do you ever feel that way? That you keep struggling on but does anybody care? Is anyone encouraged?

“If I want to truly give it forward today, if I want to be the gift, don’t I have to believe there’s enough in me that’s a gift to give forward?…it is strange to believe He could find any value in my…brokenness…[but] Didn’t He believe it was worth redeeming, renewing, resurrecting, to make it all into more than enough?…Christ believed in us…” ~ Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way

Rinse, Repeat…Redeem, Renew, Resurrect

“A constant scriptural refrain is to remember. Our faith is rooted in memory, so much so that one of the key works of the Holy Spirit is the ministry of reminding.” Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God (John 14:26)

Rinse and Repeat is used to indicate the continual repetition of an action or sequence of events, typically in a way regarded as tiresomely predictable.

Be intentional, Remember, Do it again!

These are four Markers or Altars of Remembrance that I know God has asked me to live by, again and again. This post will focus on #1.*

Marker #1 Push people toward God

“In so much as anyone pushes you nearer to God she is your truest friend.”

This quote is my life’s motto! It is also something that without being extremely intentional I often fail miserably at.

Who am I pushing nearer to God?

Who am I allowing to push me?

Or am I simply frustrated and turned around shouting “Stop shoving me!”

 I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord ~ Philippians 3:8

I truly believe the verse above, and yet some days I am hopelessly distracted. One such day occurred at a football game this fall. My son is a senior this year and I have been tucking memories away. Knowing he will not play in the NFL every catch, touchdown, tackle is etched on my heart. At a home game, a young man sat down next to me and “interrupted” my memory making. He was struggling to know God had forgiven him for something. I assured him of God’s forgiveness, besides what he was worried about wasn’t really something I deemed necessary of forgiveness. But inside the Holy Spirit was putting up red flags “Pay Attention Melisa” this young man needs your attention.

I shared with him from memory the following verse:

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!” ~ Lamentations 3:22-24 

Then he shared with me that he was going to be speaking on God’s grace in the near future. I think this may have been the basis for his struggle in feeling forgiven. We like to be an authority on things before we teach others, don’t we?

So, that night I pushed him nearer to God and he most certainly pushed me!

 Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it. ~ Hebrews 4:16

May I ask you who you are pushing nearer to God?

Anybody shoving you to your knees in prayer?

 

*Look for Rinse and Repeat (Part 2 of 4) on December 14, 2017.

This post originally was published in the Blossom Ministries Newsletter, Issue 3 of 2017.

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Charmed?

I recently left a small pile of jewelry on the bathroom counter for my husband to fix for me. I went through a week or so where every time I wore a piece of jewelry I lost a piece of the bracelet or necklace. They, of course, are my favorites and literally get a lot of wear and tear.

My husband said he would reattach all the pieces for me and jokingly quipped “You are just leaving a little charm everywhere you go!”

I love that. I sure hope so. It made me think of one of my favorite Scriptures:

But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. ~ II Corinthians 2:14 NLT

Do I leave a little charm everywhere I go?

Do I leave behind the sweet scent of knowing Jesus?

We could equate our aroma with our reputation or our influence.

The blossom cannot tell what becomes of its fragrance as it drifts away, just as no person can tell what becomes of their influence as they continue through life.

We don’t always have control over who picks up our scent, we do however have control over what our aroma smells like.

May we be charming, sweet smelling, pollinators of grace!

 

 

 

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A Quiet Joy

I love to put laundry on the line! I mean to say that I receive great satisfaction from this task. No, really! I cannot express to you the joy and sense of accomplishment it brings me to have outsmarted both the dryer and the weather all at once. Plus, I find that if I stop just for a moment that joy turns to gratitude for the blessing of the days marked by those outfits on the line. The memories of what the dirty now clean clothes represent is an added bonus to the list checking off of a household chore well done.

I associate joy with gratitude.

Joanna Gaines says that “Gratitude makes what we have enough.”

I often recommend keeping a gratitude journal. Simply list at least three things at the end of each day for which you are grateful.

The Queen of Gratitude Journals, Ann Voskamp*, who wrote a list of 1,000 things for which she is grateful has this to say about the connection between joy and thankfulness:

“As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.”

Confession number two for this entry…I watch Netflix! Yup. I recently found a show from the United Kingdom entitled Grand Designs. In Season 11, Episode 4 “Tiverton” a young Afghanistan Veteran and his bride build a new home to accommodate his injuries. During the final moments of the show, when the home is completed the host asks “Have you celebrated? Opened a bottle?” The wife begins to explain how at the end of the day they sit together and look out over the garden (yard) and are grateful…Her husband interjects with this statement “It is that quiet joy…a much quieter celebration.”

Thankfulness for the life and home they have built together has created A Quiet Joy!

What are three things you are grateful for at the end of this day?

Have you had a chance to look over your yard or your laundry pile and be blessed?

 

* Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, p. 33

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Rising Again…I Bless Your Name

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame
Rising again I bless Your name
You are my All in All

These lyrics written by Dennis Jernigan* captured my heart this Sunday morning during worship.

Truly what do I have to offer Christ but my sin and shame? Yet, I can rise again, and again in praise because I know He will receive me, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

He will come near to me when I invite him.
Who would dare to come to me uninvited?” says the Lord.
“So you will be my people, and I will be your God.” ~ Jeremiah 30:21-22 NCV

Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it. ~ Hebrews 4:16 NCV

I need it! God’s Grace.

Rising again with confidence. Not confidence in anything I can do, because I can continue to make the same mistakes. This is my super power. But, I can have confidence in who God is. Because He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) He will receive me, forgive me, strengthen me and uphold me.

…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ ~ Philippians 1:6 NKJV

Lord, I rise again and call you blessed.

#pollinatinggrace

*Dennis Jernigan © 1991 Shepherd’s Heart Music, Inc.

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Winter is Dead

sunflower

Early in the morning on a day in March, I stood at my sliding glass door watching my husband and son head to the garage and above them I saw a sunrise to marvel at. As I reveled in the beauty of this early morning the opening line in my prayer book began to run through my thoughts.

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

I turned coffee cup in hand and made my way to the living room and “my spot” for devotions. From my seat, I glanced out the window and all I saw was darkness. Odd, I had just witnessed the most breathtaking sunrise. You see from the sliding glass door I was looking east, but from my favorite spot on the couch I was looking west.

It occurred to me in that moment that the sun was still rising I was just looking the wrong way! How often am I looking at the end of the night when the sun is already rising behind me?

This revelation is so symbolic of the last few months of my life. Somewhere near the holidays and the end of last year, I came crashing to a halt. I found that I had been busy, purposeful, accomplishing mighty and many things but all of this was a sort of self-medication to sooth hidden hurt, grief, resentment, and bitterness I had not realized was building inside.

With a sudden halt to activity, I was able to rest and face the darkness. But, as spring approached and my forced sabbatical began to ease up I still felt overwhelmed by these emotions, this winter in my soul. My prayers were full of thanksgiving for the  healing and forgiveness and yet I still seemed stuck there staring at the night while the sun was beginning to rise. Then I experienced the sunrise I spoke of earlier and suddenly I saw the light!

My ability to finish fully recovering seemed hinged on this window facing east.

She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head, and whispered to her neighbor: “Winter is dead.” -A.A. Milne

It is finished seemed to echo softly all around me. I was challenged to choose which direction I want to look. Do I want to see the sun rise and the spring come or do I want to stubbornly look hard into the darkness and at what has died and gone?

I want to choose life, to seek my Lord’s face, to believe that all things are possible, that restoration is always God’s will!

I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven. We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal. ~Psalm 123:1-2 NLT

Lord, let my eyes be ever on your face, awaiting even the slightest signal.

“Turn your face stubbornly to the light, and keep it there.”

~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Many flowers such as sunflowers, poppies, marigolds, and daisies are heliotropic. This means that the face of these flowers will turn slowly throughout the day so that it constantly faces the sun.

LORD, LET IT BE SO!

I heard the following song lyrics performed the day after I saw that amazing sunrise.

Brighten My Soul with Sunshine by Joyce Eilers 

…Brighten up my soul

You’ve got to brighten up my soul

If I’m to carry the heavy load.

You’ve got to brighten my soul with sunshine

 

…I’m in trouble and I need you Lord

The Devils calling and he’s pulling hard

And I don’t know If I can make it through,

Unless you brighten my soul with sunshine

 

…Oh don’t you hear me calling Lord, Lord

I’m hanging hard on to the good word

And I don’t know If I can make it through,

Unless you brighten my soul with sunshine

The Son’s light is always available to warm and brighten my soul. It is up to me to turn my face toward Him.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will  have the light of life.” ~ John 8:12 ESV

 

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Dwelling Under Twinkle Lights

IMG_0042

Twinkle lights always make me think of home.

They are comforting. They bring warmth and joy. Twinkle lights remind me of Grandma Edwina. This dear sweet woman went to be with Jesus in July of this year and at her service every grandchild shared how we all felt we were her favorite! She loved like that…big, inclusive, welcoming. The oldest grandson said that being with Grandma “was like coming home”. I remember thinking “Yes, Exactly.” I am actually a step-granddaughter-in-law, but I always felt like I was her favorite when I was with her and I did always feel like I was coming home in her presence. Grandma also had a decorative tree in a pot in her living room with twinkle lights on it all year long. Twinkle lights make me think of home!

As I sit this year underneath the lights of my Christmas tree I feel cozy and as at peace as I can be anywhere in my current state of “Oh My Goodness Are We There Yet?”

But this is exactly the point! Christ came to dwell with man. To be at home in our hearts. God has always wanted to be in the midst of His people.

“Then the Tabernacle, carried by the Levites, will set out from the middle of the camp…” ~ Numbers 2:17 NIV

The tabernacle or the tent of meeting, as in meeting place with God was to be set up in the middle of the camp. This great nation of Israelites who had been rescued from slavery and was now wandering the desert was instructed to place the tabernacle at the center of their daily lives.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). ~ Matthew 1:23 NIV

Then we have the very essence of Christmas…Christ coming to literally, in the flesh, dwell with us.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? ~ I Corinthians 3:16 NIV

He came not just to dwell with us but in us! “Don’t you know that you are God’s temple?” Christ comes to us at Christmas that He might dwell with us for all time!

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” ~ Psalm 91:1-2 NKJV

Lord, let us not forget that you are our dwelling place. May we abide in the shelter of Your Presence and feel at home underneath Your Shadow.

 

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