Saturday, May 26, 2018

God's Love

by Ev Hendricks, March 1985. To the tune of the Wedding Song...

Give honor to the Father
And glory to His Son
And praise the Holy Spirit
And all the things He's done.
I'm thankful for the many things
God's given me and you.
That's why I praise Him every day
And want you to know Him, too.
And His love, and His love, and His love...

He's given us so many things.
He's given you to me.
He's given us this special love
For all the world to see
He's given us these children
He gives us all the best
He's given many years of toil
And then He gives us rest...
This is love, this is love, this is love...

He gives the many seasons.
The gently falling snow.
In spring we see new life again
Wherever we may go.
We feel the heat of summer,
See colored leaves in fall.
Of all the places on this earth
We have the best of all.
And we have love, we have love, we have love...

He gives the morning sunshine
To start a brand new day.
He gives the hills, the fields, the wind
With smells of fresh mown hay.
We see the rainbow in the sky
After the falling rain.
He's given us a million joys.
And then He gives us pain.
But -- out of love, out of love, out of love...

He gave us each our parents
To teach us here on earth.
They tried to help us understand
Just what this life is worth.
He gave to us the Spirit
To help us make it through.
And then He gave His only Son
To die for me and you!
This is love! This is love! This is love!...

He gives the many flowers,
The sun, the sea, the sky.
He gives a world of beauty
There's time I wonder why.
Why does He keep on giving?
How can we only take?
Oh, when will we appreciate?
Oh, when will we awake
To His love, to His love, to His love?...

And when this life is over
And our work on earth is through.
I want to know I've done my best.
I've done all I can do.
I want to be in Heaven, Lord.
I've got to find the way.
I want to be with you, Oh Lord,
I want to hear you say...
"Come my love, come my love, come my love."

Mom went home to glory April 10, 2018. We were happy to share her beautiful poem at her memorial service as a genuine example of the faith she modeled for us.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Constant daily care

Since my dear mother went home to Heaven a month ago,  I've been pulled in a million directions. My heart is drawn, first and foremost, to the needs of my grieving father, as he lost his 24/7 partner of 65 years and his loving and attentive caretaker. With my focus on Dad, I've scarcely had time to grieve the loss of Mom.

Of course I am concerned all the others I love...and the business of keeping life functioning, along with handling a multitude of details that come in the aftermath of losing someone. My to-do list is long and my hours are crowded with responsibilities. I feel stretched with handling new situations, and struggle to get enough sleep as my grieving brain continually reminds me of my new reality. I miss having time to do the things that replenish me (so I'm taking a few moments to write now).

My aching heart seeks God's presence, His nearness, to be my strength. I can't look back and change anything; I can't look ahead and fear anything; I must live in the present, in His presence. As I abide in Him with every step, I know I am being molded in His image, even now, as I feel so inadequate.

I take comfort in reading Mom's Bible, and some of the things she had underlined:
"I cannot count the times when you have faithfully rescued me...I will tell everyone how good you are, and of your constant, daily care. I walk in the strength of the Lord God...Your power and goodness, Lord, reach to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Where is there another God like you? You have let me sink down deep in desperate problems. But you will bring me back to life again, up from the depths of the earth." (Psalm 71, TLB)
I cling to my Rock, my Refuge, the God in whom I have trusted my whole life. He draws me to live with total dependence on Him. There isn't a single need I have that He can't provide. He gives all I need as I need it, just like He provided daily manna for the Israelites. Where I normally thrive on order and self sufficiency, I am learning to live in chaos and to more fully rely on Him to direct every next step.

Lord, if you choose this path for me to walk, I remember it is a privilege to walk this way with you. It is in these desperate times that we grow the most. Thank you for your constant daily care.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Many crowns

If you are struggling under difficult things now, did you know you could be earning a crown?

Recently while listening to Billy Graham’s funeral service, I wondered how long it will be before Jesus comes back for us. The thought thrills me and gives me new bursts of energy – it makes me want to dance – and, do all I can to be ready! It inspired me to reread about Heaven and end times.

The Bible tells about five heavenly crowns we can earn throughout our lifetime… for consistently practicing discipline and self-control (1 Cor. 9:24-27), for eagerly awaiting the Lord’s coming and living righteously in light of that (2 Tim. 4:8), for faithfully persevering under the trials and tests of life (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10), for winning others to Christ (1 Thess. 2:19), and for pastors and church leaders who lovingly shepherd their flocks (1 Pet. 5:1-4).

These crowns are to be given out when we as believers face the judgment seat after Jesus comes back for us. Thinking about the crowns inspires me to greater patience, discipline and purpose.

This judgment seat is not to determine where we will spend eternity, because by accepting Him as Lord, our destiny has already been decided. Thank you, Jesus! 

At this bema judgment, Jesus will review our conduct for our entire lives since we became Christ followers. All our service, sacrifice and sins will appear in their true light, along with every empty word spoken (Matt. 12:36). Jesus will review the thoughts and motives behind everything and reward each accordingly.

The thought of reliving every thoughtless mistake I’ve made in my lifetime is agonizing. But our Lord and King is lavish in grace. I remember that He loved us so much He gave His life, so we can know He will be fully fair, impartial and merciful in dealing with each of us.

Whatever crowns we will be awarded will not be for our own use in displaying or comparing. They will be ours to cast to the feet of the Magnificent King on His throne, so that we can worship Him more fully. Thus, the song, “Crown Him with Many Crowns” takes on its meaning.

“Crown Him with many crowns / The Lamb upon His throne / Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns / all music but its own / Awake, my soul, and sing / of Him who died for thee / and hail Him as thy matchless King / through all eternity!” 

The original 1851 hymn includes twelve beautiful verses, the first six written by Matthew Bridges, followed by six more penned by Godfrey Thring. Imagine how many church assemblies have sung this song in its original form or in the many rearranged versions in all the years since! See a joyous example of many voices joined in singing it at the GMA Dove Awards.

Reading, singing and thinking about the crowns and the judgment motivate me to make the most of my time, my thoughts and my words. I don’t want to miss out on what could be – here on earth or in Heaven.

Who knows? Maybe today He will come back for us!

Oh Lord, I so look forward to the day every knee will bow, the day eternity begins. Let your glory fill the temple, let your power overflow. The grave cannot contain you for you wear the Victor's Crown. Hallelujah, you overcome!

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.