Sunday, March 4, 2018

Time to chime

This antique mantel clock once belonged to Ted's grandfather. It was beautiful and held sentimental value.

One day I surprised Ted by having it restored so it would chime again. It is a clock you wind with a key to have it keep time. The beautiful chimes sounded every quarter hour, day and night; it was the music of our home.

In spring 2013, my dear husband was hospitalized, fighting the last battles with cancer. I spent a lot of time there, so wasn't home much to wind the clock.

When Ted passed away, there was much I was overwhelmed with, and I didn't bother winding the clock. My home was empty without Ted and eerily silent without those cheerful chimes. But I almost couldn't bear to hear them...without Ted. It was a season of quiet.

One morning many months ago, I felt ready to wind that clock to hear those chimes again. But I wasn't successful in getting it to work. I had to be content to enjoy the familiar beauty of the clock without the functionality.

Now nearing the five-year anniversary of missing Ted, I realize my life is filled with purpose and meaning once more. Though I still think of Ted all the time, I have been able to say, "I love my life again." (Ted and I used to say to each other, "I love our lives together.")

A couple nights ago, I dusted the trunk with Ted's significant memorabilia and dusted the clock, moving it slightly. I thought about getting it restored to working order again. As I went about doing other work, a familiar bell chimed. It was not connected with my phone and it made me stop in my tracks. "Was that the clock??" I wondered.

It sure was! I then noticed it was the on-the-hour chime, so I counted the bells, thinking I would need to adjust the time. To my surprise, the clock chimed nine bells and it was exactly 9:00. How did that happen?

As I continued working around the house, I tried to think of a logical explanation. I understood that moving it caused it to start again -- though several minutes later. There is no cord, no battery and no solar connection for this old clock to keep accurate time. How was it after all this time that it began working again, chiming at the perfect hour?

Logical or supernatural -- it doesn't matter -- my heart soared with delight to hear those chimes come back to life! Every quarter hour since, my joy soars as I hear the chimes. The chimes remind me I am loved. Loved by God. Loved by Ted. The music of our home is playing again.

Thank you, God, for your unfailing love. I am greatly glad in you. You are the center of my heart. You give many good things because you love to see my delight!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

14 Treasures of LOVE

Ted loved celebrating milestones, and this Feb. 14th would have been our 14th wedding anniversary. So, in a followup to the post about how YOU inspire me, I share 14 ways my husband inspired me with his love.
  1. Opening doors, remembering details. He lived each day like it was a date.
  2. Reverence for God. He reserved the word “awesome” for God alone.
  3. Making eye contact, being present in the moment, not rushing. It told me there was no place he'd rather be.
  4. Appreciating the details in the colorful sunsets, full moon, fresh snow, sparkling waters, new blossoms… and thanking God for all these things.
  5. Planning adventures – volunteering, traveling, trying a new recipe, cross-country skiing, hiking a quiet trail, watching for wildlife. He was full of ideas.
  6. Sharing the load. Even the most perplexing decisions or unpleasant work became easier when we worked together.
  7. Daily reading God’s Word and praying together -- it brought great strength to us as a couple.
  8. Being intentional in spending time as a family. He was both playful and purposeful. 
  9. Encouraging me to use my gifts first (like writing or creating), rather than pushing them to the end of my to-do list.
  10. Selflessness. Like the time we hiked Logan's Pass (even with his painful bone spurs) because he didn't want me to miss the view.
  11. Trusting God through the “gray areas,” because things are not always black and white and resolved quickly.
  12. Patience. The man had incredible patience. I love that I now see that quality in each of his sons.
  13. Focus. With time and attention, actions and words, he let me know every day that he loved me. There was no need to feel threatened or jealous.
  14. He respected me and believed in me, and in so doing, he gave me confidence to be my best. 

Thank you wise and wonderful God that you gave me this man for even the short time we had. Now I can carry these treasures forever.

For more treasures in our life together, read Life, Love and Loss.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

YOU are my inspiration!

As we walk our first miles in 2018, I owe a debt of gratitude to YOU -- so many loved ones -- who inspire me in various ways. Each of us has the power to shape and encourage -- or to drift and discourage. It takes a village to raise a child -- and to propel each of us to greater maturity. YOUR influence truly makes me a better person. (See yourself below?)
  • I’m inspired by loyal friends who walk with me daily, pondering the essence of life, sharing nuggets of your own faith. I love that you never tire of talking about God’s hand in our lives.
  • My spirit awakens when you share your heart with me – the good, the bad and the perplexing. I’m blessed to be in that sacred space with you and I also realize I’m not alone in my thoughts.
  • I’m deeply impressed by those who pray with me. Your words bring strength in the waiting. I love to hear your passion. We also share great celebrations in answered prayers.
  • I’m sincerely humbled by those who have fought hard battles this past year, modeling new aspects of positivity and perseverance. (My struggles pale in comparison and I know I can hang on, too.)
  • My heart rejoices when I see you take the high road in a negative situation. Your faithfulness inspires greater mercy, tenderness and obedience in me.
  • I’m inspired by you who are curious, creative and courageous in trying new things. You bring out the best by challenging me.
  • My love for you grows when I see you serve others tirelessly. It energizes me to stay focused and keep giving, too.
  • I’m overwhelmed with respect for those who are generous with hospitality. I sincerely want to be like you.
  • I love the ones who model the way in things that don’t come naturally to me, like boldness, kind confrontation, confidence and courage.
  • My spirit dances with my adventurous friends (and my body thanks you for the good workouts!). With you I’ve pushed myself harder than I would have alone. I’ve also beheld new sights, pondered new questions, connected on deeper levels and made beautiful new memories.
  • I’m greatly desirous to be near each of you who love Jesus with your whole heart. Each day I walk with you I get to know Him better, and together we become more like Him.
I have no doubt God knew exactly what He was doing when He put EACH of you in my life! Iron sharpens iron. I love you and your unique approach to life. Keep doing what you’re doing. You inspire me. Continue to use your wonderful influence in 2018.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Beauty and truth

“The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy…” 

I always seem to ignore that and skip right to the abundant life… But as I read John 10:10, the first part jumped out at me. Jesus is warning that the enemy is at work around me, too. If I am aware of that, I can redirect my thoughts accordingly.
  • When I think I am not enough, I need to realize it is the enemy stealing my motivation. The truth is I am made in the image of God, He equips me and I am a difference-maker when I am abiding in Him.
  • When I don’t hear from a family member, I might think I’m not important to them or that they don’t need me in their lives any more. But that is the evil one twisting and distorting.
  • When I take offense to a comment, believing the worst instead of the best about the deliverer, then I am letting the enemy ratchet up tension.
  • When I say “I’ll do it tomorrow,” and delay the important conversations, meetings and missions or treat them as optional, the destroyer is getting the upper hand.
  • When I feel too rushed, unfocused or exhausted to spend time listening to God, then I am letting the enemy’s influence in. The enemy plants lies, hoping I will believe God is uninterested, unresponsive or powerless. 
These are the schemes and scams of the cruel destroyer!

I cannot allow these thoughts to roll around in my head. 

I can instead focus on taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Some days it is a consistent struggle to test every thought at the door of my mind: Is it true, is it noble, is it right? …Pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy? (Phil 4:8) “Think about such things,” the apostle Paul reminded the early church. “Fill your minds with beauty and truth,” is the way The Voice translates it.

Yes. To have the abundant life with Jesus is to hear His voice in my life and filter out the enemy’s.

“The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you may have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10)

Jesus, thank you for the beauty and truth you consistently speak to me. Abiding and drawing near has made your voice familiar. There is none like it and I know the difference. Thank you for showing me the contrast—the way to the abundant life.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Feeding the multitudes x2!

I’ve long been inspired by the Bible stories of Jesus feeding the multitudes (see 2009 post). It greatly impresses me that Jesus can multiply our meager offerings, as long as we are willing to give them. 

This message is so important that Jesus performed this miracle twice

He fed 5,000 with only five loaves and two fish, and on another occasion fed 4,000 with seven loaves and a few fish (Mark 6 and 8, also Matthew).

This is amazing to me that the disciples were present with Jesus to experience the first event, and yet at the second event needed to ask, “Where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”

What short memories! Wasn’t the first miracle enough? Hadn’t they witnessed all the other miracles (healing of bleeding, leprosy, deaf/mute; casting out of demons into pigs; raising the dead girl; walking on water) to realize and remember that Jesus could do anything??

When Jesus and the disciples sailed off to a new region, the Pharisees came and asked for a miraculous sign. What more miraculous sign would they need than the wonders everyone was talking about? Jesus sighed deeply and said no sign would be given because of their unbelief.

Back in the boat crossing to the other side, Jesus reminded His disciples of both loaves and fish events (Mark: 8:17-21), and asked them, “Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?”

Ugh. I have to admit there are times I have amnesia like His disciples or doubt like the Pharisees. How could I forget for a moment the wonders our Lord has already done? How can I set aside all the accounts of God-interventions I’ve experienced and heard from believers around me?

Dear Lord, I love you and am thrilled by your miracles! I’m sorry for missing the signs you are working around me, even today. Thank you for your infinite patience. Open my eyes that I may see, my ears that I may hear, my mind and heart that I may abide in your goodness and walk in solid faith.

Friday, November 24, 2017

His voice

Praying for wisdom is like praying for patience. Patience comes from being in situations where we need to exercise patience. Wisdom is borne in circumstances necessary to draw it out.

Our Bible says if we ask for wisdom, God gives generously to all without finding fault. I’ve been asking – many times – so I’m sure it is there. It is now my responsibility to call on it and use it. The Holy Spirit inhabits me, which means there is no end to the wisdom potentially available.

I’ve been stretched in new directions in recent times, forcing me to draw deep inside for that living water in me. Disappointing and perplexing situations have caused me to cry out to God, to reach for His wisdom, to long for His voice in these matters.

In the past, I would have gone to my husband to test my thoughts and look for his affirmation because I respected and trusted him so deeply. (I really wish I could hear his wise and comforting voice!) While this is a great thing in marriage, I believe God is saying to me, “Ted is no longer here, but you can do this for yourself. Trust me. Trust yourself to hear me.”

Morning after morning, I take time in the quiet, sifting through the congested voices of the world to search for that still, small voice within me.

Spending time in the quiet in His Word is where I can best hear His beautiful voice. It is a highly valued discipline to untangle the influence of other voices… the sage and searching, the partially enlightened, the well-intentioned, the distracted, the ill-informed, and the outright lies. The quiet is the best place to cut through the cacophony and hear the purest wisdom, the words of God Himself.

After a time, the congestion clears. I am refreshed with hope as I recall a history of God walking with me through the hard things, comforting and sustaining me, and answering prayers in amazing ways. Like a puzzle, the pieces begin to shuffle into place and I can see how some of them fit together.

Reflecting on the events of recent months, I see that as I have been praying for wisdom He has definitely been giving me opportunities to use it.

God, my Father, I love to hear your beautiful voice! As I listen in the quiet, your wisdom is imparted. Guide my thoughts, direct my steps. Help me to have courage to boldly use what you have so abundantly given.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Holy Spirit breakfast

A winter storm descended on Duluth and the Holy Spirit descended on our breakfast. What a powerful time!

My sister-in-law Marj and I had divided the distance to meet in Duluth, leaving both of us with about a 5.5-hour drive. It had become a tradition for us after Ted passed and we wanted to stay connected. This, our third reunion here, was a special time like no other.

Both of us love meeting people, so we easily engaged in conversation around us... in the shuttle, the shops, the hot tub and more. On Thursday night, we had taken a long walk along Lake Superior and came back drenched by mist, but still joyful, as we settled into a booth at Grandma's restaurant. We soon were chatting with a couple at the next table and found some commonalities--a big one being our faith. We instantly saw their joy and compassionate nature.

The next morning we saw them again at breakfast, not realizing they'd been staying at the same hotel. We chatted about waiting out the storm for a window to travel, and they asked if they could pray with us before we headed for home. Then, in the context of talking of the stories of our lives, I quickly asked if they would be around for a few minutes because I wanted to get them a copy of my book. Life, Love and Loss would share a bit of both of our stories and the man (my husband/her brother) we had lost.

While I was retrieving the book, Marj received a phone call from a woman whose workshop was on fire close to the house. She worried about her special-needs foster child, and there was confusion about which firefighters would respond. Again, the group went to prayer, asking for protection, resolution and a miracle. Within minutes the call came that the miracle had happened -- the workshop had burned to the ground but with the snow and rain it had gone out before spreading any further!

Other believers at the table behind us joined in conversation with the first couple and soon we were all sharing stories of faith and answers to prayer. The connection we felt was like old friends or family. And, of course, we are the family of God. The conversation was rich and full.

I asked a hotel staff person if he would take a photo of our whole group. Everyone happily gathered. The staff person then commented on what a blessing it was to have this group in the dining area this morning and what joy it brought to the room. We quickly circled up with him and prayed for the needs on his mind, too. The circle continued to grow...

As I shared the group photo with the others, we all exchanged contact information. We were amazed at how quickly the Spirit connects when we are sensitive to where God is working and venture to join Him in the action!

Holy Spirit, thank you for your powerful way of joining lives, inspiring faith and working miracles! May we hunger and thirst for your righteousness, may we be sensitive in listening for your guidance and sharing our faith and joy with others--for your glory.