Faith, Home Life, Living Life

FALL Into My Heart

 

Who besides me could use a little encouragement & inspiration? Who besides me has felt mentally overcome by the weight and flood of political-driven negativity & turmoil over the last couple of weeks?

So today, I want to find the positive, the joy, and the peace which is being hidden.

As I look out my front window, those things are not hard to see at all. Autumn is a beautiful, colorful time on the street where I live. In fact, it is the most picturesque time of the entire year.

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Living on a tree-lined street has many positives, as well as a few negatives.

Trees can be messy, particularly when they drop hundreds of acorns into the yard, and I mean hundreds! They make the squirrels quite happy I’m sure, but they are no fun to step on barefooted. It’s fun to watch the squirrels busily & quickly bury the acorns in the ground, their tiny, little paws surprisingly efficient at digging the hole and, after placing the acorn into it, pushing the dirt back over the hole and patting it down with both paws. That explains our very lumpy front yard!

 

The city-owned trees on our street are particularly aged, and in need of some TLC. Every now and then the weakened or broken branches give up their fight to hold on and let loose, sometimes with a loud crack as it hits the pavement or one of the cars which is parked along the street. One of our neighbors recently experienced this, as a large branch broke through the windshield of their vehicle.

The linden tree in front of the house sheds not once, but three times throughout the year. Yes, three!

However, the positives far outweigh the negatives of our lovely, little neighborhood, and that is what my mind focuses on this morning. The trees are indeed beautiful and make ours one of the most beautiful streets in the city.

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Right now, I look out the window and see the ground, blanketed by all the gorgeous colors of fall! I’m avoiding the mental reminder that all those lovely leaves are going to need to be raked up. Let’s not spoil it!

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I am anticipating a trip to the produce farm soon to add some beautiful pumpkins to my porch decor. I love everything about fall, and as I was thinking about it, another thought came to mind. So here are a few more descriptions about ‘fall’ upon which to ponder.

pexels-photo-64775“Fall” into the comforting arms of hope through Jesus Christ. Sink into Him like a cozy, warm blanket on a crisp fall morning, steaming cup of coffee in hand. Nothing like the cool temperatures of this troubled world to make the warmth of the Lord’s presence all the more comforting & inviting.

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“Fall” onto our knees in prayer, trusting and surrendering to Jesus, expressing to Him our concerns & fears, listening to His voice saying, “I got this, don’t be afraid. It’s going to be ok”.

 

 

“Fall” in love again. Cozy up to your significant other and reminisce about the good times of the past, find the place that sparked your heart for this other person, who made your heart skip a beat with a simple smile. Perhaps discover something new about this person beside you.

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“Fall” like rain, O Holy Spirit, upon the hearts of man, leading the lost to the feet of Jesus, the hope for all nations.

 

 

My friends, as you see the seasons of nature changing around you and you begin to gather your sweaters, boots, and pumpkin-spice everything, I pray that you will experience the tranquility & peace it brings.

 

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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.