Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Remembering God’s Assuring Love

 

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In this society which seems to be imploding with division and blind contention, I cling to the comfort I find in Christ Jesus, in knowing who God is.

 

This chapter of Psalm reads as if it were written only recently, its words so descriptive of modern day humanity.

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The highlighted portion of this text is what I hope to leave foremost in your hearts today. For though the first few verses of this chapter describe a scene of hopelessness and a plot in which evil wins, the message of God’s love toward those whose hope is in Him comes shining through!

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As a ship lost in the overwhelming storms of the sea, those onboard finally seeing a guiding light beam through the darkest sky, finding new strength which springs forth from within them, and they feel renewed determination to hold on and fight the good fight.

 

   “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5

 

“I have a message from God in my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
before their eyes.
  In their own eyes they flatter themselves
too much to detect or hate their sin.
  The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
they fail to act wisely or do good.
  Even on their beds they plot evil;
they commit themselves to a sinful course
and do not reject what is wrong.
  Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
  Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
  How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
  They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
  For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
  Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.
  May the foot of the proud not come against me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
  See how the evildoers lie fallen—
thrown down, not able to rise!”

Psalm 36

 

Find comfort, my friends, in this declaration of God’s unfailing love! I pray that your hearts are bathed in it until it saturates every part of your soul with His perfect peace!

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Faith, family, Uncategorized

A Different Portrait of Father’s Day

As we celebrate Father’s Day, I cannot help but think about what that means to me. Like many of you, the portrait of Father’s Day, for me, looks different from the heartwarming pictures we see on social media or on television and advertising. Most parents have some of those moments of perfect parenthood and we wish it could always be that way and that all of our children’s memories of us would be full of happiness and joy.

 

If you can look at those perfect pictures and say “that’s what it was like for me!”, I am so happy for you! What a wonderful gift! However, my picture just looked different.

My intention for sharing these thoughts are not to paint a dishonorable image of my Dad.  I loved my Dad very, very much. There is not one perfect parent, be it mother or father, who can boast of a mistake-free, picture-perfect run at parenthood. Not one.

 

Rather, my wish in this is that the message of redemption sinks deep into the hearts of all those who still ache with regret, and who re-live in their minds all the ‘what if’s’.

 

Everyone has their own portrait of fatherhood, painted with their own experiences, losses, relationships, and perspective. I am so sorry if the thought of that stings your heart. I fully understand that for many, the memories are wrought with pain and indifference. Those hurts are some of the hardest to heal, but I know that God is able to do just that, for He has eased the sting in my own heart.

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My father made choices which separated him from his children. I have to believe that in the 40 years that he was away from us, that he too, contemplated the ‘what if’s’ at least a time or two. And even still, I always loved him.

 

During those years, life went on for us, and for him. I don’t believe it was ever in God’s plan for families to be separated. He knows how important both mothers and fathers are in the roles He created. But even though circumstances and sin bring corruption, God loves us so much that He brings beauty from the remaining ashes.

 

In spite of the choices that were made, God gave us a good life here. I was happy, healthy, and I had my family surrounding me and we loved one another. God was always there and we made it through.

 

The very beginning of my portrait of fatherhood wasn’t nice to look at. There was no indication of beauty or promise.  But you see, in the end, that plain, ugly canvas became a lovely picture. Not perfect, and not the stuff dreams are made of, but beautiful just the same. Because when God adds His touch of redemption to the portrait, it becomes a work of art. 

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In the last 15 years or so of his life, my Dad chose to move to Washington to be near us. We made new memories, shared life together, some of our children were able to know their Grandpa from the very start. They will always remember when Grandpa played Santa Claus, and the times he made them feel special.

 

 

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Some of our most special times were when we sang together as a family, and in music ministry. The years we shared with him were a blessing to us, and to him, and brought some needed restoration.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

 

None of us could go back and re-do the past, not even my Dad.  Though that loss was something each of us would have to grieve in our own way, and never would we be able to have the kind of relationship with him that many others have had with their fathers, we were given enough time to paint a different kind of picture. It would never be the ‘perfect one’, but it would be ours. It was a gift, and in the end, it became a portrait of God’s redemptive love.

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“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14

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Whether you are the child who still aches for something you never had, or the father who carries the weight of regrets, know that it is never too late to seek redemption and forgiveness.  Some things can’t be erased and undone, and there will come a time when you will have to uncover those hurts, feel the sting, and allow healing to take place. It will be hard, but it will be ok.

Then, pick up that paintbrush, and begin to add beauty and color to your picture.

 

 

 

Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Clothed in Splendor

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The clematis vine I planted last year has grown more than I could have imagined  and this spring, showcased a remarkable amount of blooms.

 

As you can see, it has settled quite nicely in its home under the pergola. In fact, I love it so much, I’m going to plant another one of a different color.

 

As I thought of a friend of mine who is struggling with health issues, a passage of scripture came to my mind, which immediately made me realize that this simple yet elegant flowering vine not only gifts me with its beauty, but also with an important lesson about life.

 

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?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

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I know it is not in the best interest of anyone to worry excessively. There is enough scientific evidence now to confirm that the stress of worrying is not good for our bodies or minds.

 

But life is full of ups and downs, trials and conflicts, enough to at least bring concern to our minds now and then. I don’t believe that is any surprise to God. He told us these times would come and to hold fast to the words which He spoke.

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This passage of scripture is full of assurance and encouragement, and I find much comfort in it.

Because when I look at that little flower on the vine, I see that my God put so much care and thought into the intricate design of each part of it, shaped it just so, and used His imagination to decorate it with brilliant color.

And as He stated in His words,  if He would take such care to dress the field flowers so beautifully, and water them with the dew, will He not make sure that I am cared for also?

 

Sure, times of concern will come. Circumstances will sometimes feel overwhelming. I will even admit that sometimes worry overtakes my thoughts and weighs heavy on my mind.

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In times such as these, this scripture is a reminder to keep our eyes on God, to continue to seek Him, to press in closer to Him, where we will find strength and comfort, peace and wisdom.

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And one more thing about my beautiful, flowering vine… I know that when He was creating it, He had me in mind, knowing that when my eyes behold its beauty, it would remind me of Him and bring warmth and delight to my heart.