“We’re getting closer,” I replied to my tiny great-grandma who was seated in the wheelchair I was pushing. “We’ll walk outside now because I think I can find the building easier that way.” At 92 years old, Grammie Lee’s frail body seemed to add no weight to the wheelchair as I pushed her on the sidewalk towards the apartment where we would meet my grandmother.
“Would you look at those flowers!” Grammie Lee exclaimed in her small voice. “The yellows are so pretty!” I glanced across the street and spotted the patch of yellow pansies she was talking about. “Yeah, they’re nice!” I tried to muster up some enthusiasm to match my great-grandma’s. Where was that building? The retirement community had such a large campus that I sometimes stopped to get my bearings.
A few minutes later I heard a sound come from the chair. “What, Grammie Lee?” I leaned forward to listen. “Look at those little flowers in the ivy! Who would have known they were there? Aren’t they beautiful?” I looked at the greenery that lined the sidewalk. Sure enough, there were small green flowers hidden among the leaves. I marveled at how Grammie Lee seemed to notice all these things that I would pass by otherwise. What would it be like to see things through her eyes? I decided to try it.
“Grammie Lee, look at that!” I pointed to a pair of geese with two goslings following close behind. “Oh, yes.” She spent a few moments admiring the animals.
By the time we found the apartment building, my heart felt a lot lighter.
Grammie Lee is able to have a joyful attitude even though she can’t participate in many of the activities that go on around her. Her secret lies in Psalm 9:1: “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Giving thanks to God means looking for those tiny blessings that we might pass by every day. Our whole heart should be occupied in telling of His miracles, even if they are as common as a yellow flower.
Has your heart felt especially burdened lately? Try taking a walk and making a point of giving thanks to God for making the beautiful things around you.
I watched in the mirror as the young woman curled my hair. The formal event was staring in just a few hours, and a group of my friends had gathered to prepare together. The lady smiled as she held the curling iron steady. “So what is your book about?” She asked.
I remembered that my mom had mentioned it to her earlier. “It’s a devotional to help teen girls who have gone through their parents divorce.” I replied. “I just finished it the other day, and I’m really excited about it!”
“Wow, that’s great! You’re writing from experience, I assume?”
I paused to think of a way to answer. I didn’t like to sound like I was complaining when I told someone about my book and the circumstances that brought me to write it.
Have you ever felt a twinge of guilt when talking about your problems or prayer requests? As though maybe you were exaggerating? I have definitely felt this when writing blog posts about the challenges of divorce. I wonder if I’m exaggerating the situation or if I’m prolonging the whole experience. Maybe I should just stick with devotional writing without including personal stories, I think.
I was contemplating this the other day when I realized something: if I don’t acknowledge the difficulty of a situation, how can God be glorified in it? God’s power is manifested when it is obvious that the solution did not come from me. We see proof of this in 2 Corinthians 12:9 after Paul asks God to take away a significant challenge in his life. God answers “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” Paul then concludes that he will talk gladly about his weaknesses so that “the power of Christ may rest upon [him].”
Do you avoid talking about your failures? Paul didn’t. Our failures and challenges, when contrasted against God’s power, bring glory to God.
Have you ever thought that if you just love someone enough you could fix them? That through your constant love and pursuit, their brokenness would some how be healed? Or have you ever desired the love of someone else so much that you convinced yourself that their love is literally all you need? You tell yourself that this lack of love is the missing piece to the puzzle so to speak, yet once you finally receive the love you had always dreamed about, you still felt empty and incomplete.
I can almost guarantee that at some point in your life you will most likely experience both of the aforementioned thought patterns. Perhaps you are currently struggling with these thoughts as you try to pour out love into your parents’ relationship hoping and praying that your love is just what they need to escape divorce. Or maybe you have found yourself longing to be loved and accepted by a certain group of people at school, or by that certain guy who you have been dating and dreaming about for so long.
Highly acclaimed Christian writer and speaker Beth Moore reflects on our inability as sinful human beings to love someone “complete” or to be loved “complete” by another individual. In one of Moore’s powerful devotionals, she tells the story of her adopted son Michael. Moore confesses that her and her husband were convinced that through their constant love for Michael and their continuous provision for him that they just knew their love would be enough to take away the hurt from his painful past. Moore states that it only took a short while to realize her and her husband’s love would NEVER be able to restore Michael’s broken heart. She concludes her account by stating the following:
1. God is the One and only One who can love anyone to wholeness.
2. Even Almighty God refuses to make anyone accept His love.
Whatever your situation is, your love or their love is not enough. It will never take away the hurt and it will never make you complete. Because we are broken and filled with sin, the way we love and receive love in this world will forever be flawed by our sinful nature. The only love that can truly take away our hurt, our past, our pain is God’s unfailing love. Look away from whatever shifting source you are pouring your love into and turn your eyes to God. Let your heart accept with joy the wonders of His perfect love. He will complete you. Only He can make you whole. Choose Him today.
So…its 20 days into a new year. Supposedly there is something special about being able to start afresh. In the new year we can choose to do things differently, right? We could choose to evoke resolutions that we want to happen in our lives. Let’s just be real, those things never last. Two weeks after I resolve to wake up every morning and run, I stop. If its not a habit, then it probably won’t become one unless I try very hard. I heard on the news that a habit doesn’t fully form until you do it for 6 months consistently. 6 months is a long time!!!! LOL.
So what do I do with it all? All being my life and all of its contents: everything I want to change, every uncomfortable characteristic, every unfulfilled relationship, every heartache, and every deferred hope. How can everything be new if the old still exists?
One thing I am learning about my relationship with Jesus is that He is so willing to wait until I give Him an opportunity to work. I can try, try, try and try until I am blue in the face and black in the feet. But something overwhelmingly breaks like a snapped bungee cord and smashes me down to reality when I stop trying and rest. Jesus says: “Live in me, and I will live in you. A branch cannot produce any fruit by itself. It has to stay attached to the vine. In the same way, you cannot produce fruit unless you live in me.” (John 15:4)
When we live in Him, we give Him space to open doors of limitless possibilities for us.
I am reminded of the scripture that says:
“Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Clearly, God is making a point here. He is going to do something new…fresh..lively..invigorating in the lives of His people. Is this the same God I follow? Yeppers. He can do new things for me too! YAY
I’m finding that there are very few times (maybe never) in my walk with God that He is dependent upon me to accomplish something. The only effort I put forth is to trust Him to make and re-make all that pertains to me.
So… this year, He’ll be my resolution.
I resolve to be open to Christ and to allow Him to… do what He does best. Will you?
Fire engines rushed noisily down the small street curving through my town-house neighborhood. I looked out my window to see that the screaming sirens had woken up most of our community, and now people in their pajamas hurried towards a house down the road. I grabbed a coat and went to join them around the scene. Smoke billowed from the top story of a town-home similar to my own. Most of the windows had been broken in an attempt to remove some of the heat and smoke. A steady stream of water ran down the street because of the massive fire hoses the firemen had been forced to use a few minutes ago. The men hustled in and out of the house, some carrying what few things could be salvaged – a parakeet, furniture that had been obstructing their work, and some unrecognizable items. Apparently the family was not at home. I kept thinking how terrible it would be to return to a home destroyed by a chance fire.
The next morning, the family, a middle-aged couple, stood outside surveying the damage. This place where they had built there lives for the last few years now bore the marks of the fire that had destroyed it. In just a few hours, their lives had changed forever.
Have you ever had to watch your life go up in flames? Maybe in not such an obvious way as this family did. But things like divorce, the death of a friend, or moving to a new area can often feel like our lives are being turned upside down.
I have good news about that family whose house looked unlivable. Just a couple of days later, the man was clearing the damage from the windows. Things were not so hopeless as they first seemed. After rebuilding some of the walls inside and doing work on the roof, the house might even be livable again. Take that as an encouragement in your own hopeless situation. No matter how terrible your circumstances seem right now, God is right beside you. He will help you rebuild.