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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For the Hurting, Fresh Air

Pain arrives on our doorstep, pain we cannot control, no matter how hard we wish, try, or work. I’ve heard from many in the last couple of weeks who are hurting, some from physical ailments or limitations, some from the sickness or deterioration of a loved one, some from unloving and selfish acts on the part of someone close, or who should be close. Some from their own weaknesses or errors. The good news is, there is hope. There is one who loves us, who knows what it is to be betrayed, hurt, in pain and anguish, even to death.

bird in morning light by Jack H Thompson, Jr

Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works;

be alert for signs of his presence. 

Remember the world of wonders he has made,

photo by Jack H Thompson, Jr

God spread a cloud to keep them cool through the day

and a fire to light their way through the night;

He opened the rock and water poured out;

it flowed like a river through that desertPsalm 105: 5,40-41 MSG

waterfall in Africa by T.L. Bollier

Would you believe that thousands of years ago a prophet predicted what God would do for us in times like these?

Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.

But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole.Through his bruises we get healed.

We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.

We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.

And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. 

Is 53:1a-2-6 MSG 

sheep near Otavalo, Ecuador by Jack H Thompson, Jr
sheep in Ecuador

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 3-5 MSG

Cross on dunes on Pensacola Beach
Pensacola Beach
flower in Maui by Jack H Thompson, Jr
flower in Maui

water birds in Isabella, Galapagos by Jack H Thompson, Jr

birds in Isabella, Galapagos Islands

God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening.

Their words aren’t heard, their voices aren’t recorded, But their silence fills the earth:unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

God makes a huge dome for the sun—a superdome!

The morning sun’s a new husband leaping from his honeymoon bed, The daybreaking sun an athlete racing to the tape.

That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset,

Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.

The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.

Ps 19:1-9 MSG

sunrise in the Abacos, Bahamas, by Jack H Thompson, Jr
Sunrise in the Abacos, Bahamas
Morning light, Santiago, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, by Jack H Thompson, Jr
Morning light, Santiago
sunrise by Jack H Thompson, Jr
sunrise
Sunset in Bartholomew, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador by Jack H Thompson, Jr
Sunset in Bartholomew, Galapagos
View of snow-topped volcano from Quito, Ecuador by Jack H Thompson, JR
View of snow-topped volcano from Quito, Ecuador
blossom in the dew by Jack H Thompson, Jr
blossom in the dew

Have you felt your life being pulled together?

My wish for you

rainbow in St Thomas, VI JHT
rainbow in St Thomas, VI

My wish for you . . .As you receive the gift of this new year, one day at a time, one breath at a time, my wish for you is for beauty. Beauty of the soul, where you relax into the shape of who you are, created in the image of God and held by nail-scarred hands.

Sunset in Florida Keys JHT
Sunset in Florida Keys

Beauty of the eye, seeing the splendor of what is above,

 

Bahama sky, JHT
Bahama sky

What is around you, the exquisite very near,

butterfly on flowers, JHT
butterfly on flowers
uplifted coral, Isabella, Galapagos , JHT
uplifted coral, Isabella, Galapagos
Penguin, Fernandina, Galapagos, JHT
Penguin, Fernandina, Galapagos

And far,

sunset at Bartholomew, Galapagos, JHT
sunset at Bartholomew, Galapagos
Storm off Ft Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, JHT
Storm off Ft Jefferson, Dry Tortugas
Swiss Alps, JHT
Swiss Alps

And within,

Even your scars.

scarred tree trunk in Switzlerland© Jack H Thompson
scarred tree trunk in Switzerland

All that you have lived

and suffered

and danced through

wraps up into you,

going forward today,

Sea Lion, Fernandina, Galapagos, JHT
Sea Lion, Fernandina, Galapagos
newborn in NICU
newborn in NICU
J and Jane loading patient into ambulance
J and Jane loading patient into ambulance
a taste of heaven
Mom singing

only this day,

for we have no other.

 

I wish for you beauty of the skin, soft breezes or brisk winds 

Windsurfing in Dry Tortugas
Windsurfing in Dry Tortugas
kiss from Lady Pitkeithly, JHT
kiss from Lady Pitkeithly

gentle rains or strong waves

Jane body surfing in Bahamas, JHT
Jane body surfing in Bahamas

And hugs.

Mommom love
Mommom love

Beauty for your ears, listening to the music of rustling leaves, crunching snow, crackling fire, to the hearts of those God brings to you

school children in Switzerland , JHT
school children in Switzerland
Christmas Eve 2014
Christmas Eve 2014

And to your heart

heart shaped shell, Sanibel Island, FL, JHT
heart-shaped shell, Sanibel Island, FL

And song. Always song.

Praise gives us life.

Where do you find the beauty in your life?

The photos and the video below, “Beautiful”,  are best viewed on the website. (Click the title.)