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Archive for June, 2007

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

 As I climbed down the stairs from my deck to water my newly planted flowers, I noticed that my watering can was leaking.  This small detail seemed to escalate the ache in my heart.  My teenage daughter had two car accidents in the last week and had felt little remorse.  Instead she was difficult and moody and demanded that her life continue as usual.  The insurance mess and concern over how we were going to pay for the damage to her car and the effect on our insurance was overwhelming.  In just a few weeks she was graduating from High School.  She was not excited about attending college and seemed to have regressed spiritually.  Our relationship had been reduced to bickering and tears most days.  I felt like such a failure as a mother.   

I continued to climb down the stairs, carrying the faulty watering can with tears streaming down my face.  All of a sudden I was reminded of the parable of the “Cracked Pot”, which is a story about a water bearer who carried two large pots to deliver water to his Master’s house:

 

In the story of the Cracked Pot” one of the pots was cracked and the pot apologized to the water bearer that he could only carry a pot half full.  The water bearer showed him that for two years his cracked pot had watered his side of the road creating a beautiful flower garden along the roadside.  Further more he had told the cracked pot that he had always known about his flaw and took advantage of it.  He had planted the seeds on his side of the path and every day his cracked pot watered the flowers.  The water bearer had been able to decorate his Master’s table with the beautiful flowers, he told him that without him being just the way he was, he would not have this beauty to grace his Master’s house.

 

I was comforted as I remembered this story.  Suddenly my spirits were lifted.  I realized that God knows my flaws and my daughters and he will use our failure to bless His table.  I stopped crying and started thanking God for saving my daughter from being hurt in those car accidents.  I thanked Him for sending this lesson which might save her life when she drives again.  I remembered all the times in my life when I felt like a failure, but God had turned that failure into a blessing when I had let go of self-pity.   I went into the house after finishing my work in the garden.  I picked up my devotional and read these words:

 

“God uses ordinary people like us with flaws and cracks in our pots.” 

What I read only further convinced me that God was speaking to my heart.  Perhaps I need to ask God to use this brokenness for His purpose.  I need to remind myself that when I feel like a failure He is simply taking the reigns from my hands and using my flaws to help me to do His will.

 

I wrote this piece on “the cracked pot” last year just around this time. God restored my relationship with my daughter. Although she was hesitant about going away to college, she had an amazing year. She made so many friends, volunteered to work on the entertainment committee and did excellent in her studies. She is a more confident young woman. During this last year she has gone from being my little girl and grown into an impressive young woman.  Our relationship is no longer a mom and a little girl, but two women living our life in a family side-by-side.  The cracks in our relationship were mended by the Lord and I see now that the distancing was all part of her breaking away so that she could become her own person. The accidents have made her become a much more careful driver and making her deal with the details of her accident reports and insurance have made her be accountable. The hope is that we are all jars of clay and sometimes when all seems lost…it is only our Lord sculpting us into something brand new.

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“May God, the source of hope, fill me with all joy and peace by means of my faith in him, so that my hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

In the book The Kiss of Heaven written by Darlene Zschech she writes, “God’s promise and oath are our hope, and this hope is an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. If we give God everything, including our cares He will work everything together to complete His plan for us.” I love this book because in it she writes about God’s favor, which is the Kiss from heaven. Ever since I started putting my focus on God first, I have experienced such favor. Darlene is my favorite singer, she wrote the much loved song “Shout to the Lord”. Her book is written with the same poetic words with a rich understanding of how God works in our lives. She is a gifted singer and wrtier and has a keen sense of what worship really is and can lead us in praise and thanksgiving through her words. Her song “Shout to the Lord” was written at a very low point in her life. Perhaps that is why the depth of that song registers in so many souls and hearts.

She taught me that when I am troubled and something has defeated me, when I begin to thank God for that adversity, even when I don’t feel like it, my burden is lifted. Lifted by believing with all of my heart that God only intends good for my life. When I begin to thank God for something that is hurting me, and trusting that God is in control, my spirit is lifted from that adversity. Perhaps my circumstance has not change, but my perception of that circumstance and the way I react to it has changed. When I trust that God will give me an answer, believing even when I see none in sight, He always comes through. An answered prayer led me to write a thank you to God, to remind me to always keep my focus on Him. To write the words that will remind me every time I face some adversity that God has been faithful before and He will be faithful again.

How many sweet things dwell in my mind?
Placed there by your precious Holy Spirit’s guidance
and whispered into my soul.

How much inspiration your angels have whispered into my Spirit?
Ideas that I dare not claim to be mine,
but perhaps I have sometimes.

How much Glory have I denied you Lord?
Because your guidance, as I walk thru this avenue called life
deserves all the glory.

How many sweet times have you waited for my company?
And I foolishly busied myself instead with idle tasks.

How many times have I suffered needlessly?
Instead of turning to your Word,
or inviting your sweet presence to visit within.

How many times have I disappointed you Lord?
Yet you are always there when I call on you.

How can I express my love for you? When you have your Glory
honored by more faithful and gifted servants than me.

My heart is full Lord, tears of spirit well in my eyes for the gratefulness I feel. And I am so small in your presence that all that I can do is bow down and praise you.

Amen

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“Now give me wisdom and knowledge so that I can lead these people in the right way, because no one can rule them without your help” God said onto Solomon, “You have not asked for wealth or riches or home, or for the death of your enemies, or for a long life. But since you have asked for wisdom and knowledge to lead my people, over whom I have made you King, I will give you wisdom and knowledge. I will also give you more wealth, riches and honor than any king who has lived before you or any who will live after you”. Then Solomon left the place of worship, the meeting tent, at Gibeon and went back to Jerusalem” 2 Chronicles 1:10

One of my loved ones suffers with depression. It hurts my heart to see him hurt, yet after so many years I know that I am helpless in this situation. I pray and surrender him, and I ask the Lord to comfort him. Some days I get so angry that he lashes out in his frustration and is like being with a dark cloud, who steals all the joy out of an otherwise happy day. Other days I just feel weary of the same darkness returning unexpectedly. I understand there are many people who suffer with depression and it is not something that they willfully intend. Somewhere deep within the mind is a key to escape the maze that seems to spiral into opressive sadness and anger. That key eludes those who suffer with depression. There are triggers that provoke the depression, but it is clearly a physical condition. Some days I can cope, but that is not enough for me. I want to still be joyful and to appreciate and be thankful for all the Lord’s blessings in my life. I once told a dear friend, who has a husband who suffers with depression. Is it possible that the Lord created some of us to have the ability to see the beauty around us? To house that beauty and joy to share with those who are blind in spirit because of the disability of depression? Instead of the condemnation we sometimes feel for those less fortunate, perhaps our gifts are there for the sole purpose of uplifting others. Afterall, the beautiful mind that eludes the darkside only holds in their hand the key to escape, by the Lord’s Grace.

My Prayer For Today

I need to trust the Lord and not feel worried today. I need to be more thankful and not let the spirit of sadness steal blessings which are mine. I read the verses Jesus, but the meaning of the words are falling apart within my troubled mind. I want to be a better servant. I watch and listen to your disciples and how through their faithfulness they are model steward’s of your word. I want to be that Lord…to walk through my day fully equipped to respond in total obedience. I want to complete the work that you have called me to do. I need to fulfill your purpose for my life. I want to be seen as a joyful example of your promise.

Help me Lord to feel worthy of your Grace,
As I plan to meet with you Lord,
I will leave my troubles at the door of your altar.

I ask that you fill me with forgiveness and remove my anger
remove my judging spirit and cover me with your Peace,
I will leave my strife at the door of your altar.

I ask you to strengthen my weary steps,
Please fill my heart with Joy,
I will leave my burdens at the door of your altar.

I ask you to remind me of all the sweetness of life,
to be rekindled with passion for creating again,
I will leave my hardness of heart at the door of your altar.

I ask you to whisper again your sweet promises into my soul,
Teach me a new revelation today, Lord,
I will leave all my unbelief at the door of your altar.

You know me Lord and you know that I need to be renewed in Spirit,
I need your gentle presence to surround me today,
And when it is time to leave you again,
I will take your sweet embrace with me,
as I leave the door of your altar.

It wasn’t long after I wrote this that I was led to a book called Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder written by Julia Fast and John D. Preston. The book outlines triggers, strategies and an action plan to coping and understanding the loved one who suffers with Bipolar Disorder. I feel like this was the gift of answered prayer. This book is full of the wisdom I was so desperately seeking.

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In the day of trouble He will hide me in His shelter, in the secret place of His tent will He hide me,: He will set me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:5

I was so inspired this morning. I watched Josh Groban’s new video of his latest song…“You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up).” It is really worth listening to, and so uplifting. The video shows different people from all different lands, cultures and lifestyles. The song professes “Don’t give up because you want to burn bright”, such a lovely thought. “Everybody wants to be understood” words we all need to hear.

The lyrics of this song connect all different people’s needs with words of encouragement that breaks all the barriers of differences. Such a simple thing to do, to love with acceptance and to uplift others. Yet the world seems at times to have forgotten how simple it is to just love and encourage one another. Some days we feel weary from all the harsh words and abrupt treatment and cold responses.

The song reminds us that even if you are somewhere that is far from encouraging, God loves you, you are loved. “Don’t give up because you are loved.” How brightly we all would shine, if we all knew how much God loves us. Today if you were to encourage just one person with a kind word, a smile or an act of tenderness you would be sewing the love God wants for us to know. If we listen carefully to our heart and not our mind we will hear those Godly thoughts encouraging us, reminding us that God loves us, we are not alone.

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“Faith comes from listening to this messge of good news-the good news about Christ”. Romans 10:17

Every morning I sit in my wing chair and spend some time reading my devotional and the Bible. It is my special place where I have stacks of spiritual books and a journal nearby. Last year I noticed that this robin would sit on the window sill near this spot. Day after day he appeared, as if he too were taking time to be still. I finally, put my camera nearby so that I could capture this photo. This morning he appeared again. He was the first Robin I saw this Spring, and his parable led me to remember the legend of the Robin. I thought it fitting, because the sight of this bird sitting on the ledge where I meditate each morning, strengthens my faith that the Lord is always with us. He continues to stoke the fire within us by giving us signs.

“The Legend of the Robin,” tells how Mary, on Christmas Eve, coaxes the stable animals into stoking the fire for her. The horse, ox, and donkey are no help. Then a little brown bird swoops down and fans the smoldering coals till the bird’s chest glowed and a flame ignited—in the coals, that is. “‘Dear bird,’ Mary said, ‘thank you so much for your thoughtfulness. From now on, you will always wear a breast of red as a sign of the kindness in your heart.'”

I wonder if the first bird of Spring is the Robin because just like when he stoked the fire for Mary celebrating the birth of our Lord, he stokes our attention every Spring to remind us that this is the season we celebrate Christ being born again.

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“I am the vine,
you are the branches,
he who abides in Me, and I in him
bears much fruit,
for without Me, you can do nothing”

John 15:5

Every Spring I am in awe as each flowering branch appears. The flowers and foliage come alive in the celebration of the season.

Our redeemer is celebrated
in the Glory of Spring,

And we like the blossoms hanging from the
branches cling to our Savior and are covered
by His Grace,

The Glory of His resurrection is announced
as each flowered branch reveals the promise
and Blessings of the Gift,

The tiny birds sing Praise,
as they rejoice the rebirth
of every living thing,

Declaring in their song,
“The Lord Jesus Christ Lives”

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“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctant or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Corinthians 9:7

When I was just four years old, we lived in Queens, New York with my grandparents. Both my mother and father worked, and I stayed with my grandmother. I went to Public School #58 with my Uncle Bobby who was just two years older. We were not poor, because my parents both worked and so did my grandfather. yet we lived very modestly. Bobby and I had nice clothes, plenty to eat and many toys.

The most important life lesson that I learned was on the day that my mother returned from work carrying a beautiful doll. It seemed that her employer had received dolls for a nearby orphanage every year. Every employee was asked to take one home and make doll clothes and dress the doll to be given away.

I watched day after day as my mother carefully made her clothes and even a little fur stole for the doll. When she was finished the doll looked more beautiful than any doll that I had ever seen. Of course the notion that the clothes had been made by my mother made her seem even lovelier to me. I wanted that doll so much, but I trusted that I would have one just like her some day.

My mother had carefully explained to me where the doll was going. It was the first time I recall understanding from my heart instead of my head. I learned from that gesture of kindness that we are required by God to provide for the less fortunate. That doll paved the way for me to continue to give to the poor as a natural way of life. I trusted my mother so much, that I didn’t worry that I would not receive…I trusted her. I believe that these lessons created fertile ground for the day to come when as a young woman I would give my heart to Jesus Christ.

On my eighth birthday my mother and father gave me the most wonderful gift. I opened up this large box only to find a Revlon Doll. I was thrilled because she wore stockings and high heel shoes. She looked just like the doll my mother had provided for the orphan all those years ago. She wore a pink organza dress with red hearts and she had real earrings and a pearl necklace. This doll meant more to me than any other gift that I received that year and during the many years to come. In my little girl heart I believed that I had received God’s best as a result of my being a cheerful giver and not begrudging an orphan for receiving my mother’s best.

Looking back I realize that on that day I learned about God’s timing. You see, my mother was pregnant with my sister Susan. Up until then I had been an only child. When I received such a meaningful gift on that particular birthday, I was reminded that I can trust. I welcomed my baby sister into the world five days later. Being reminded that God is faithful helped me to love my baby sister and not to be worried that I would have to share my lovely mom.

We can never out give God. He is always stands waiting with open arms to give to us where we lack the most. Like a smiling parent overlooking an obedient child wanting to reward their good behavior. In his perfect timing He will give us our heart’s desire. God wants to give us His favor for being a cheerful giver.

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