Friday, January 24, 2014

A Change in Plans

Earth's crammed with heaven
and every common bush afire with God,
only he who sees takes off his shoes;
the rest sit round and pluck blackberries.
                                                Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Surely this beautiful piece was written in the beauty of spring. But I am re-reading it on a cold, icy, winter day when my entire city has shut down because of the weather conditions. Texans don't know what to do with ice and so we stay home by our fireplaces. And it's Friday. I love Fridays. I play tournament bridge with a partner that makes me laugh while she challenges me to think. I get to spend time with people who I have grown to love. But today … It's the perfect day for reading.

I love this poem. Long ago, I wrote it in the front of my Bible. It reminds me of Romans 1:20. "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." 

God has crammed earth full of evidence of Him. Nature reveals His amazing power, His creativity, His provision for our every need, His kindness toward mankind, His patience, His wisdom, etc. No one has an excuse for rejecting Him.

God is present in what we see as common. The problem is that too often I become caught up in the mundane and forget to "see" Him … and enjoy Him. Sad for me. Within my self-imposed, limited vision, I can reduce His presence to a quiet little companion, just waiting to be noticed and acknowledged. Crazy! Why would I do that? Why would I even want God to fit that mold? He is fire, He is glory, He is all powerful, all knowing. He is magnificent. He is beautiful. He is all mighty God!

Perhaps an "ice" day is just what I need to slow down, take off my shoes, settle in and take note of my attitude towards living the life I've been given. Perhaps I should ponder how often I enjoy the creation - the blackberries - and deny the Creator. When do I find my enjoyment in what is perishable and ignore the eternal? When do I settle for less?

Yes, it is a beautiful day - icicles and all!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

There's nothing like a baby!

There is nothing like a newborn baby that can create a glimpse of the way that God loves. I began pondering this when Leslie was born. And I am seeing it replay all over again with the birth of my grandson, Maverick.

Watching my baby loving her baby has brought back a surge of emotions and memories. Before her baby was even born, Leslie experienced the pains that accompany every woman's pregnancy. Babies kick and squirm in a small, enclosed environment of a mom's body. They seem to practice tap dancing when you are trying your best to sleep. He (or she) distorts your body and causes your body to respond in many unpleasant, not to be mentioned ways. I remember...though the memory has softened. Painful but you hold on to the  promise of a new family.

When Leslie thought that she couldn't take pregnancy for one more second, her sweet baby boy made his loud entry into the world. Watching her in the delivery room brought tears to my eyes. More pain.

Little Maverick is now two months old and his dad says that he never realized you could go that long without sleep. Little do they know that they will never sleep soundly again.

That precious little bundle of joy can be demanding and impatient. He cries to be fed immediately and it won't be long before he will wail for attention and demand his way be done. But, oh, the joy he brings! I watch Travis and Leslie stare at his every movement. They talk a new language, in a tone reserved only for their adored son. They can't wait for him to wake up from his nap so they can play with him again.

I see both Leslie and Travis overwhelmed with a sense of protectiveness. Hand sanitizer, baby monitors of every kind, pediatrician visits - anything and everything to assure that their baby is safe. I remember coming home from the hospital many years ago and the realization hitting me that my precious baby was exposed to all kinds of dangers. And it was entirely up to her dad and me to guard her. Thinking, "Really? That's the plan?"

For a very long time, babies give nothing in return for all of your sleepless nights and attentive nurturing. But Maverick gave the first glimmer of a responsive smile at about six weeks and everyone began to perform and beg for another. Just a glimmer of response, a hope of connection, a desire for him to be happy.

Yet in spite of all of the pain, sleepless nights, necessary feedings and diaper changes, constant need for attentiveness … you love your baby. He gives absolutely nothing to you but he's yours. And you love him with an immeasurable love.

Scripture declares that God loves us with a never ending, faithful, unconditional love. We fall short of that kind of perfect love. In fact, I think loving our babies is the closest we can come to grasping the way that He loves. God created us and loved us from the beginning. He made plans for us from the moment of conception (Psalm 139:13-16) - good plans, plans that are not meant to harm us but meant to give us a full life.

As the created, we demanded from our Creator. We treated God without regard. But...He gave. He gave more than we can even fathom. "God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

God protects. He guides. He teaches. And yes, He disciplines when necessary. All because of His great love. We did that for Leslie. She and Travis will do the same for Maverick.

We love God because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). It is His love that shows us how to love. Love is more than a feeling, even though it certainly can arouse emotions. It is an action. It is demonstrative. 1 John 3:16 says, "This is how we now what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." John 3:18 continues, "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions in truth." Saying "eat" to a baby, does not feed him. It would not be an example of love. Action is required.

Through a parent's eyes, there is nothing like a baby to show you that love is truly patient and kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails! (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

And since Scripture declares that God is love (1 John 4:8), we can be assured that God is patient and kind. God does not envy or boast. He is not proud, rude or self-seeking. He is not easily angered and keeps no record of our wrongs. He does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects. Always trusts. Always hopes. And always perseveres.

God will never fail!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Resolutions, commitments, vows- whatever you want to call them

I don't make New Year's Resolutions. Not that I'm opposed to others making commitments to better themselves. But personally, I've felt like a failure once too often upon breaking my resolution before the month of January saw the 31st arrive. I don't like the agony of defeat! (A little dramatic, I know.)

This year, however, I am going to make a vow to write on this blog more often than last year. Why? Love. The reason I started writing in the first place was because of my love for my future generations. They have always been my target audience. I want them to know the great-great grandmother that prayed for them and loved them before they came to be. I want them to know the woman I am and what (or should I say Whom) drives me and consumes my thoughts and actions. I want them to see my life through my eyes. I want them to see the glimpses of God that I see in my day. I want them to see why I am so crazy about God's Word. I want them to know my over-the-top passion for Jesus. I want them to see my worship of Him through my written stories. I want them to know me, understand me, know how much I love them and see the perspective of someone who is devoted to God. And I desperately want them to love God!

I think that some of my reasons for writing this blog may be the same ones that God had in mind when He breathed His truth into the Scripture we can read today. I believe that the Bible is God's primary tool to help us know Him intimately, believe Him and understand who He is (Isaiah 43:10). I know that God loves us with an everlasting love; it's declared throughout His Word in the person of Jesus Christ. I believe God desires that we see life with His eternal perspective as opposed to the worldly one that our culture tries to push down our throats. I believe we can see the heart of Christ, the image of God, within the pages of the Bible.

Scripture declares that "the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4). I am not sure when that time "will come" but I suspect it has begun. Many people in our generation declare themselves to be "spiritual." However, they base their belief system upon what they like to hear or teachings that allow them to essentially be their own god. Future generations may choose to disregard Scripture but that will not change the truth of who God is and what will be.

As for me, I know the Bible speaks truth when it declares, "Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal" (Psalm 119:89, 103, 130, 160).

And so I will write for my beloved children, grands and great-grands. And hope they are interested in knowing me and knowing how much they are loved.

I don't mind if you, my friends, travel with me. In fact, I am counting on you to hold me accountable.

January 2014