Seeking small graces

My health finally stabilized. And after a long recovery from hip repair surgery in November, I was walking further with my dog and playing with my grand-kids. Then something painful “popped” in my hip, and I’ve spent the last months in varying degrees of pain — walking, sitting or standing. For weeks I’ve battled an infection that made me a semi-invalid last year. My body clearly wasn’t up to the fight and I’ve had to start antibiotics. (Not simple, since I’m allergic to way too many, as well as still trying to heal my gut from last year’s antibiotic siege.) I’ve worked hard to get healthy and whole, free to engage with others, join in the lives of my family, return to teaching Bible classes, finish editing my books and complete another, to live a vibrant, meaningful life. As things seemed to be spinning out again, I’ve wondered, even prayed, “What am I doing wrong?”

If God would just tell me, I’d do it!

There must be a key.

Is there something important I’m not doing? Leaving out?

Every time this song, Thy Will by Hillary Scott, comes on the radio, my mind and emotions downshift.

When I’m working so hard to do it right, am I actually exhibiting lack of faith? After all, it’s not all about me, and I’m not God.

It’s hard to find a balance between accepting life as it comes from the hand of God, and fighting the good fight as we are called to do.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I Timothy 6:12

The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest. Exodus 14:14 AMPC

How do you thread that needle?

All I can do is recall what I know is true.

photo by Jack H Thompson, Jr
https://www.bible.com/bible/97/psa.56

photo by Jack H Thompson, Jrhttps://www.bible.com/bible/97/jas.1

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.                                               Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG

photo by Jack H Thompson Jr

photo by Jack H Thompson Jr https://www.bible.com/bible/97/pro.19

In place of the questions, I begin a new search.

Seeking small graces.

Focusing.

Naming what comes into my life today as a gift.

Trusting the giver.

Trusting the hands that gave them.

And, in the end, remembering this life is brief.

And there’s more to each day than we can ever see or understand.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. 2 Cor 4:16-18 MSG

That is enough.

You may be facing far greater challenges now, or will in the future.
Do you struggle with chronic pain or illness or disappointment? How do you handle it, react to it?

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A need I cannot ignore

This is not a normal post from me. It is an urgent need, and I hope you are not offended by my sharing it here.

Around ten years ago a young woman came to sub as a piano player for our contemporary service. A line of young children followed her in, sat where she instructed, and behaved amazingly while we practiced, and throughout the service. Afterward I learned Nikki and Brian Seiller and their children had traveled from Zimbabwe with nothing by suitcases in hand to start a new life in the United States, fleeing the chaos in their country, seeking a safe refuge to raise the children.

We quickly became friends and I’ve cherished her love for people and the Lord, her open heart and deep spirit. She plays and sings with tremendous inspiration, and always inspires me.

Her parents remained in Zimbabwe, her mother, Aurell Olivier, intent on continuing to help orphans, whose situations grew more desperate every day. About six years ago thugs broke in at night and beat them mercilessly, knocking out her mother’s front teeth and almost killing her father. He never fully recovered, and three years ago died of a massive heart attack.

After his death, his “friend” and business partner seized everything, even Nikki’s childhood home. Nevertheless, her Mum has remained in Chinhoyi, Zimbabwe, to help others.

However, Aurell just received a blow she cannot recover from alone. Years ago, when life was “normal,” they purchased a home in South Africa for retirement, and had been leasing it out to cover mortgage payments. (Being outside of Zimbabwe, it is the only asset that survived the economic and cultural destruction in her country.) The bank just gave notice that, since the house was in his name only, they are calling the mortgage and will not give her a new mortgage because of “her age.” They will auction the house on September 23th, unless Nikki’s mother is able to pay off the mortgage for $20,000.00.

Nikki and Brian have constantly worked long days and weekends since arriving in Sarasota to make a home for their children. She has never asked for handouts, and would not for herself. But her mother’s need is too great.

Only a massive response from friends and strangers will help her mother keep the only thing left for her future.

Aurell has spent a lifetime helping others who can never pay her back. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for her to be cared for now?

If you feel inclined, here is the GoFundMe link.

https://www.gofundme.com/26aa2pk4

You can read the story in detail there and see pictures of the family.

Please “like” and share this post. Many small gifts can fill the need.

And pray for AURELL OLIVIER.

Thank you.

Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress James 1:27 HSB

We need to remember

I still cannot watch videos or look at pictures of that horrible day on the eleventh of September, 2001, without churning emotion. Many chose not to look, say it’s too depressing. But I believe, no matter how painful, we need to remember.

WTC, NYC
One World Trade Center

With granddaughter at WTC memorial reflection pond
With granddaughter at WTC memorial reflection pond
Steel girders on display at memorial
Steel girders on display at memorial

Remember what?

Remember how real evil is.

When we see and feel the evil on 9/11 we know that evil is not just a matter of someone getting up on the wrong side of the bed, or having suffered a bad childhood. Evil is real, and active, deceiving many into believing they are securing eternal happiness by killing as many others as possible.

Sadly, evil is not the solely the province of terrorists.

In the last fifteen years I’ve seen a huge shift in our collective awareness of evil, of right and wrong. From video games, TV shows, movies and social media it seems that many in our culture have a growing fascination with darkness, violence and death. Some seek it as power, others as escape.

It is neither.

Evil is ultimately only about destruction. Others first, then our own.

Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for — will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. John 10:6-10 MSG

We also need to remember the good. The first responders who rushed in and gave their lives. The private citizens who ferried thousands who were trapped off Manhattan Island that day. The passengers and crew on Flight 93 who sacrificed their lives to protect the Washington target. Volunteers who arrived in NYC and the Pentagon, day after day to help in any way they could, and people across the country who donated food and supplies.

Whenever evil strikes, it lights a fire it cannot snuff out, a fire of courage and determination, of light and love.

In the end, we are faced with daily choices, light or darkness, though very rarely so clearly defined.

Will we pause and reflect, then go on with life as usual?

Or will we decide to make a difference, be the bearers of light? Truth? Love?

Can we do our part?

Only if we remember the stakes.

What do you recall from that day? Has it changed your life?


I’m not very familiar with country music, but this song expresses it.