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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All things new, from whatever we bring to the table

My youngest daughter, YD, is asking me to write the story of my life. Why would anyone want to read all that depressing stuff? She says it could give hope to women going through dark valleys right now, to see how I have prevailed, how God has made goodness from my brokenness. I wasn’t convinced, until this past week, when I began a memory t-shirt quilt with my oldest daughter for my grandson’s birthday. OD had collected t-shirts spanning most of his life. We sorted through the shirts, looking for striking colors, interesting designs and logos, and outstanding memories.

I was uneasy cutting up perfectly good t-shirts. (I’m from the waste-not-want-not family. Of course, I saved the left-overs for rags.)

scraps from t shirts

Through most of my early life, I felt like those left-overs.

Torn, missing pieces, needing the impossible to be whole.

 

When we had enough, we cut and prepped the blocks, then lay them out to plan the design.

OD arranging blocks cropped
OD arranging blocks

As I cut and stitched, I felt the Lord showing me how he has snipped and stitched in my life, pressing and pinning and joining, during times I couldn’t feel his presence. Sometimes, only the pain.

But he was always there.

Always working.

Always creating.

After I sewed the blocks together the back was a mess.  Only threads and rough edges of seams, only snatches of color showing through.

quilt back
Quilt back

quilt back close up

I’m not a perfect quilter, by any means. But when I turned the fabric over, all those pieces of my grandson’s life came together, making what I hope he will enjoy.

I’d taken snippets of his life and stitched them together to make something altogether different. Cast-off shirts had become a beautiful quilt for his new room.

Quilt for Alex
Finished quilt

I cannot ignore the lesson whispered along with the whir of the sewing machine.

God is the perfect Creator, and his finished product, when I arrive before him in heaven, will be beautiful and whole. But even now, I bear the marks of the Creator, snatches of beauty, areas where I can bring blessing and love to others.

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. I Peter I:3-5 MSG 

I guess YD is right. I need to share it. Even those of us with memories we’d rather keep buried have a Creator ready to work us into something beautiful to bless those around us, as long as we’ll allow him to work. As long as we are willing to take up new thought patterns, trusting him with our lives.

Have you found that to be true for you?

Or do you think it’s better to let some things stay buried?

It is enough

My bones are healing. However, every time I move, the soft tissue protests, reminding me it suffered greatly during the surgery to bolt my broken bones back together. I’m told it will be a while before I can sit or bend in comfort. Yet I have much to celebrate.D7T_3918

This week I went into town and had my hair cut, then out to lunch with my daughter. Except for sitting, I felt almost like my old self. In my last session at home with my physical therapist, he passed me to drive. Yesterday I drove to the store, then later to church, another milestone in this slow journey to normal.

Whatever normal is.

God, it appears, is giving me a new normal.

It began with complete helplessness, extreme pain and dependence on others for every need.

For several months unable to join in corporate worship or group Bible studies, I’ve had to draw near to the Lord in the quiet of my home, in the pain of my bed, in the shaking of my legs as I stand.

Every time I have to ask for help, I am crying inside, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!”

I’d have thought by now he would have turned and touched my hip. Taken the pain away. Launched me back to productivity.

But he has chosen to lead me on the slow path of up two, back one.

A slow dance of trust.

Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).

2 Corinthians 12: 8-10 AMP

And while new bone grows strong, a strength emerges in my spirit.

Not mine.

His strength.

His life.

This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit.

John 3:13 MSG 

So I wait.

And as I press on with physical therapy, and plan in smaller increments for my future, I am acutely aware that my body does not contain my life.

Eternity holds me.

And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.

Nehemiah 8:10b ESV 

The revelation of God is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
and point out the right road.

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Blue Ridge Mtns, NC
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Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

The life-maps of God are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
and easy on the eyes.

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Smokey Mountains, North Carolina

 

God’s Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.

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Roseate Spoonbills, Celery Fields, Sarasota, FL

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Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me from stupid sins,
from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,
scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.

Ps 19:11-12 MSG

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Morning in Fernandina, Galapagos

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Sandhill crane pair in the morning, Celery Fields

It is enough that I take life from his hand. However and wherever the path may lead. Taking time for eternity is peace.

There is no greater peace.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow4OfW4DP9s