When You Long for Change…

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Hi!  How’s your afternoon been?  My morning was quiet, with the usual morning activity.  The dog, Holly, has been a bit barky today.  I’ve gotten a lot of calls made – calls I’ve needed to make all week.  The dishes got done, and I’m hoping to paint a door or something before the afternoon is out and Gary gets home.  Tonight is an impromptu movie night with a friend.

I’ve been thinking more about yesterday’s conversation on “change”.  Making changes in life isn’t easy; that’s why most New Year’s resolutions never follow through past a couple of weeks.  And some changes are downright impossible in our own strength.

Yet, the Bible says that change is not only possible, but necessary and doable.  I’ve seen drastic changes in me in so many areas the last few years – changes that were needed, but I was powerless to perform alone.  Changes now made I find greater freedom and relief.  How was I able?

Jesus, plain and simple.  Through the same power that raised him from the dead. Offered because of his extravagant love.
When Jesus changes us, we discover true freedom and relief! Click To Tweet
If you are someone who longs for change – I encourage you to join me for the next couple of weeks.  I won’t preach. I just know that Jesus has changed me and continues to do so. I have experienced first hand his amazing love, and his power to do more than I could ever ask or imagine.

We’re gonna look at Jesus’ perspective on change, the tools he’s promised to effectively make change, and stories of change.  Please join me!  I don’t want to do this without you!

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
    and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
    for those who love him.” I Corinthians 2:9

Looking forward to meeting with you for coffee next week!

With Love,

Robin <3

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When Christmas Won’t be Christmas

Sunday morning as I paused to text 2 dear friends currently in the throes of hospital visits and cancer treatments, my thoughts were transported to Christmas 10 years ago.  I remember wondering, in the flurry of holiday activity surrounded by my own husband’s daily cancer treatments, what it all meant.  He’d been diagnosed with internal Melanoma during Thanksgiving week. My mind was still numb to the reality, but aware enough to know life wasn’t the same, and some huge monster had invaded our home, and  I was scared if I thought too much. All of a sudden, who cared if the Grinch stole Christmas, and how horrible would it really be if some child didn’t get the toy they’d hoped Santa would bring? Suddenly, much that seemed to matter to the world around me no longer mattered to me.  I needed a huge dose of hope and an assurance that even if the world was moving at break neck speed over seemingly trivial things, that someone saw us, and our struggle, and cared.

Is that where you are as the Christmas season approaches?  If so, whether cancer, or a wayward child, or…. I get it. Even now in the stillness and peace of my home 10 years later, grief slaps me afresh as I replay those scenes. Reality is, life is never fixed by Hallmark’s “Christmas Magic”, no matter how much we’d hoped it would be.  Christmas can be messier than we’d like to admit.

I did find the hope I longed for that Christmas, as an amazingly intimate God bent down and wept with me in so many ways.  As I daily, quietly spent time with him to quell the chaos around me, the Holy Spirit began to comfort my heart with an amazing thought:

God’s Son’s first Christmas was very messy.

As that thought sank in, I began to look at Christmas from a completely different paradigm.

I  wish I could sit with you, pour you a cup of tea, hold your hand and encourage you  with the idea that everything will turn out just fine. But I can’t.  I can assure you from the other side of the mess that because Jesus chose to enter a world full of messes that first Christmas, there is hope beyond what you now face.

Would you join me the next 4 weeks leading up to Christmas Day?  Each week we will look at a different aspect of the first Christmas, and allow The Father and the Son who came to cry with us.

The first day of the week I will share a meditation to ponder.  Other days I will share a prayer, a song, a short story of hope, or a suggestion for making the holiday easier.  Please join me.  Also, please, speak up!  I’d love your thoughts and comments as the weeks progress – how this is helping or not, and what is or has worked for you.  Thanks!

With love and prayers,

Robin <3

Advent Day Six – The Gift of Unfailing Love

Christmas Decor at LH 2014 (2)I thought that I had completed writing about Jesus’ gift of love from l Corinthians 13, but after a rather lengthy discussion with my husband today regarding my take on the passage, I decided that I would take one more day to describe Jesus’ gift of love toward us by expanding on the last portion of I Corinthians 13:

“Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.  Love never fails.”

As my wonderful husband pointed out, “Robin, these verses were written to teach us how God calls us to love. They were also written to let us know that to truly be followers of Jesus we must extend this kind of love.  And besides,  God frankly doesn’t always protect us – there is a lot of pain and suffering in the world, even for those who follow Jesus.  (My husband and I are both very aware of the suffering of life as we have both watched beloved spouses suffer immense pain before dying; and then watched as our children have suffered the agony of their parents’ passing.  And we ourselves have suffered greatly because of our loss.)  Also, God doesn’t need to trust or hope – he knows all.  I think you have misread this passage.”

Yet, as I pondered Gary’s words, I had to admit that I know myself well enough to say, “I could never love like this unless God gave me the ability to do so”.  Because he is “love”, all of this must come from him – from his character.  So, because he says I am to do this, he must have already been doing this himself, for God never asks me to do something without going before me.  Yet, Gary made some good points.

  1.  The fact is, God does sometimes allow us to suffer immensely.  So how can he say that “love always protects”?  I have found that when I come across something in the Bible that seems contradictory to what I understand as reality, I can trust and know that God never lies (he doesn’t ever delight in evil as I wrote yesterday, so he can’t lie).  So, as God can’t lie, then I must conclude that I don’t fully understand the issue from the perspective of eternity, and from his being all knowing.  I am finite. Also, as I have come to know Jesus more fully and to experience his love in even the hardest of times (especially as I watched my beloved husband succumb to lung cancer, and watched my son fall to pieces in the middle), I would have to say that although God allowed all of this, he did protect each of us throughout.  Maybe not in the way that we would have hoped, but he did protect nonetheless.  My husband never endured more pain that he could handle, and was transformed by the experience.  He was able to say in his last months “I have more peace than I have ever had in my entire life.”  I was able to watch my husband suffer and care for my son with autism, both of them in and out of the hospital, sometimes simultaneously, with miraculous strength.  My son, even in immense anger at God, never killed someone or himself and was graciously protected from harm.  God did protect us from what could have been more than we could bear, and on top of it gave us gifts we would have never experienced otherwise.  He always does.
  2. Truth is, God doesn’t need to trust or hope – for he knows all.  Yes, but as God sees from the other side of trust and hope – the fulfillment of his promises, we are able to hope and trust in any circumstance with the full assurance of his faithful love for us.

As I finish out this section of I Corinthians 13, I come to the crescendo of this description of Jesus’ gift of love, “love always perseveres, and love never fails.  When I think of all God’s love means and is, to think that it never ends and never goes away is amazing to me.  I can do nothing to separate myself from his love.  Nothing. Romans 8:38-39 says it beautifully:

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

There is a caveat – “…revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  If Jesus isn’t our Lord – i.e. our final authority, then none of this applies.  Yet, the beauty of the story of Jesus is that God wants it to apply – to you.  Going our own way, and running from him won’t get us there.  Want this incomprehensible, enduring, uncompromising, faithful love?  Turn around and begin running to Jesus.  Think this is too good to be true?  Be willing to take a risk.  Ask him to show you the truth in it.  He would love to do just that.  You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Jesus, I’m not convinced, but I would love if it were true.  Show me please this kind of amazing love.

 

Advent Day Three, The Gift of Incomprehensible Love

 

How Do I Love Thee stones from Gloria Horner wedding gift Nov 2012This gift of incomprehensible love that Jesus offers us isn’t easily explained with human words – the word LOVE isn’t really adequate, as all the loves we are acquainted with have limitations and can be subverted by pride and self-serving.  Our loves can be extinguished by lack of attention and by injury. However, when God expresses, “I love you”, it isn’t birthed from passion, isn’t given for the purpose of being returned, isn’t dampened by being shunned, it isn’t said as a nicety, and it isn’t ever extinguished.  God’s love is pure and true and faithful – born of his own being and sustained because of who he is.  God is love.

 “But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  

I John 4:8

Continue reading “Advent Day Three, The Gift of Incomprehensible Love”

Advent Day One – The Gift of Becoming Clean

 

December 2014 Christmas (37)Last evening I had a dream.  Nothing most would think memorable enough to remember or certainly record, yet as I awoke, I was impressed with a thought that made the dream meaningful and very worth telling.  I was outside on a lovely day, dressed in casual clothing but wearing a new pair of brilliant white tennis shoes.  As I looked down at those shoes before beginning my walk, I noted how clean they were, and how much I was enjoying their spotless whiteness. Continue reading “Advent Day One – The Gift of Becoming Clean”

Safe All Along!

 

IMG_20150328_182615How often lately I am finding that I respond more out of fear than I realize.  Life is very big and bold and truthfully many times more out of my control than within my grasp.  For instance, late last week, as I headed home from a very busy day, I witnessed the person up ahead of me hit a dog on a very busy street during rush hour.  The poor dog was noticeably injured, but well enough to run off the road and into a nearby apartment complex howling and limping greatly.  My heart cried as I pulled over, stopped the car, and then waited until it was safe for me to run across the same road – cars speeding to get home for the evening.  A lady in the apartment complex about two stories up saw the accident and tried to direct me to where the dog had run off to, but after about 20 minutes of calling and whistling, also being joined by a couple who had also seen the accident, we were unable to locate the poor animal.  My heart broke – I had no control to fix that which was hurting the poor creature.  I had no control to fix the pain I and several others felt over the unforeseen events that drew us together.  All I could do was pray.  Yet, in the moment I knew that prayer was my only resort, I was reminded that I wasn’t praying to an unseen, imaginary being – hoping against hope that my “belief” would be enough to make a difference.  No, I was praying to the God who said in his word:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”     Matthew 10:28

As I considered this, suddenly I also remembered that God said in another part of his word:

“….The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results….”    James 5:16b

I wasn’t praying to an unseen, imaginary being – but I was praying to the God who fashioned that dog, and who was hurting as much as I was at its injury. I was also praying to the God with whom I had a close relationship.  Suddenly a situation that seemed frightening as I felt out of control to make a difference, soon became safe, as I realized that I could not only gain the ear of the one who had control, but also gain his heart.  His daughter was speaking, and he very much cared.

Did I ever find the dog?  No, sadly.  But I was able to pray with the woman who hit the dog.  And I was able to share with her that I knew the One who knew where the dog was and cared about it deeply.  I could also share with her that this God to whom we were praying together, was kind and caring, and able to do something about it.  With that perspective of truth, life suddenly didn’t seem quite as big and bold and out of control any more.  It suddenly seemed very safe.  Thank you, Jesus!

 

True Love…….

20151008_103703-01My mind and heart are still contemplating this thing we call relationship, and how when it isn’t going well, we push through until we finally realize that the pushing is only going one way.  Then, human tendency is to eventually give up – pain overcoming desire to maintain.  Rejection is a powerful emotion. Continue reading “True Love…….”