Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hearts open, senses engaged

We were drinking rich coffee from heavy ceramic mugs, my fingers tracing the deep grooves of the Old Rittenhouse monogram. Ted and I had received a generous wedding gift certificate from friends or we likely would not have enjoyed this extraordinary weekend at the renowned historical inn. 

From our elegant table near the window, we were bathed in warm sunlight as we perused breakfast menus. We were in the ambience of the north, where my sweetheart and I felt right at home.

We had arrived in the evening, and snow was falling so heavily that we swished and swerved as we climbed the steep roads of Bayfield. The Victorian inn perched on a hill with the large wrap-around porch welcomed us and the aroma of burning logs tantalized as we checked in. What a blessing to have a weekend to ourselves tucked away in this winter wonderland!

I was admiring the ornate woodwork, vintage wallpaper and stained-glass accents forming prisms of color on the linen and lace tablecloths when a basket of hearty bran muffins and delicate pastries appeared before us. I looked in Ted’s smiling eyes as the server topped off our coffee. Everything was exquisite – the food, the service, the location, being here with my honey and the potential of a new day spreading before us.

We would delight in seeing a pileated woodpecker hammering away in a tree near the front walkway. We’d bundle up in our warmest layers and hike the craggy, windswept shores of Lake Superior to explore the mysterious ice caves. We would marvel at the beauty in God’s creation, so remote it could easily be missed if we weren’t attentive. Together, we lived life with our hearts open wide and all our senses engaged.

I hold my warm mug in both hands now and sip from that memory once again.

Ted’s been gone for more than three years and my love for him surges strong with this latent memory that came to life today. I miss the man who dreamed up these wonderful adventures, the man who held my hand through the thick and thin of life, and who could caress the depths of my soul with his dancing blue eyes.

He inspires me, still, to be fully engaged with life, to take the time to see the details. God’s loving handiwork is all around to explore and appreciate. In each and every day, our Loving Father places people and purpose and great potential. Will you see it today?

Will we live with hearts open and senses fully engaged? Will we smell the coffee, feel the breezes and read the opportunities that today brings?

Father, we open our hearts to you and all that you have for us. May we never miss the beauty of the relationships and opportunities you place before us today. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

When we worry

Some events this week pulled me down. Prayer requests from friends brought more sad news. My heart was overwhelmed.

We all experience that place, sometimes. Worry slurps us in, darkness threatens and sadness takes hold. Our troubles loom larger than life. It’s hard to stay focused and take the next step.

When we worry, we are in essence saying these things are bigger than God. They are not! They may seem so at the moment, but then I recall the big picture. I remember our Loving Father, His character and His promises.

He’s the One who created all things intricate and beautiful … the One who works all things together for good … the One who is all powerful and knows our concerns even before we speak.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

When we worry, we are not focused on God, but on our own troubles. We feel the pain but we don’t have to stay there. These things are temporary – no matter how gloomy it seems. Our response can be to draw close to God and depend on Him. God is not limited in any way. He can breathe the word and change any situation. He wants us to focus our eyes on Him, walk with Him, trust in Him. Abide in Him through everything.

Many times I have been in a place WAY OVER MY HEAD. What do I do? Where do I start? My stomach clenches in a knot and my tears flow. But then I turn my eyes to Him with a simple prayer: “Dear God, help me.” My faith is in Him.

“God, this is way bigger than I can handle. But I am never alone. You are a Father of great love. I am your precious child and you know my needs. You comfort me, strengthen me, give me hope and direction. Show me a solution. Nudge me the way I need to go. I bring you my five loaves and two fish (all that I have) and that is enough because you multiply my efforts. I am inadequate but you are more than adequate.

Dear friends, whatever is on your heart … harsh words spoken, relationships broken, finances lacking, health failing, demands mounting or confusion abounding … He is near and He is Lord. Surrender it all.

Dear God, thank you that there is no trouble too big for you. You are already at work changing, redeeming, restoring because we trust in You.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ...(Matt. 6:25-34).