In quietness and trust…

July 30, 2014 | My Jottings

I received a gift recently from someone I’ve never met in person. Her name is Peggy and apparently she reads my blog (hi Peggy!) because my dear friend Ginny told her about it. Last week Ginny and I attended our local community playhouse’s huge and celebrated production of Les Miserables, for two reasons: 1. I love Les Miserables and that book is in my top ten favorite, mind-blowing books, and 2. My daughter Carolyn was in the play and I love her and she is in my top four favorite, heart-holding people in the world. Possibly even the universe. What a play it was! I have had the privilege of seeing Les Mis at The Queen’s Theatre in London, and this one in our city was on par with the quality we saw in England.

Anyway, on the night Ginny picked me up for the play, she handed me a bag with a beautiful pillow cover in it, with a little note from Peggy. Peggy has known her share of heartache; sometimes I think those who have suffered know how to bless others in ways the rest of us are still learning. Peggy must have known from this post that I love cardinals, and here is a photo of the pillow cover. (I measured it and bought a pillow insert right away so I could use the pillow — it looks lovely in both our bedroom and living room.)

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It says, “His love is as gentle as freshly fallen snow, His joy is as lovely as winter’s glow, His peace is the quiet place our hearts can go.” And the scripture at the bottom of the pillow is “In quietness and trust is your strength…” Isaiah 30:15 (NIV).

I realize that cardinals are often thought of as winter birds and are used in a lot of Christmas decorations. And the snowflakes and the verse on this pillow make it seem like it should be a seasonal pillow, pulled out and displayed when the Christmas decorations go up.

But I’m going to keep it out all year long. We live in Minnesota and our winters are long. As a matter of fact, this last winter was one of the longest and snowiest our region has ever known. So when one lives in American Siberia, one can use winter decor all the live-long year if they want!

On another note, I have been trying for four weeks to write a post about the latest things that have happened in our lives. I am not sure why the words won’t come out as I would like. Someday soon I hope to share.

This scripture is so fitting for us right now — in quietness and trust (in the Lord and His ways) is our strength….

Thank you for this beautiful gift, dear Peggy…

God’s Agenda or My Agenda?

July 24, 2014 | My Jottings

My dear friend Kay is one of those people I’ve never met face to face, yet feel a bond with that only the Lord could have orchestrated. Many of you who read this blog regularly will have seen her gracious comments after some of my posts. Kay lives in Cornwall, England with her husband Alan. She’s an avid reader and such a great writer, I’ve encouraged her to start her own blog and told her I’d be her first subscriber. Kay may not be ready for that yet, but she has generously agreed to do a guest post here on my blog, and I know you’ll love what she’s going to share. I look forward to reading your comments in response to what God has laid on Kay’s heart….

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God’s Agenda or My Agenda? — by Kay Stevens

Have you ever heard anyone say that ‘Life is a funny old thing’? It may be an unknown phrase in the U.S., but I’ve heard it said quite a few times here in the U.K. Life is often unpredictable, challenging, surprising (sometimes shocking) and unfathomable. Christians are not exempt from these feelings. Sometimes people will say ‘Life is what you make it’. Well, I would like to argue that is not the right way for those who follow Christ.

I had had my life planned out for so long. Obviously I realized that unexpected things happen along the way, but I felt quite happy planning my future. This was way back when my children were small and I was still married to their father. Although I was a Christian, I tried very hard to be the one in control of my life. Life wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t particularly good either. I just trundled along, not growing in my Christian life at all. And then I came upon a big crossroads. It took me eighteen months to decide what to do and I’m ashamed to say I took that decision without turning to my God. I took a turning that led to sadness, loneliness and depression that lasted for eight years. During those long years I cried out to God for help and couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.  235527974_640

One day I went to my usual church house group meeting and the leader, Mary, gave everyone a small piece of broken pottery and she asked us to write on them something that we wanted to leave at Jesus’ feet. I thought for a moment and then wrote ‘Lack of hope for the future’. This was my honest, laid-bare feeling. Mary then glued the pieces to a wooden cross as a physical representation of what we had done spiritually. I then promptly forgot about this action.

A few weeks later after praying with friends, I was persuaded to register with an on-line dating site. It was a secular company but I made it clear on my profile that I was looking for other Christians.  The rest, as they say, is history. Within six months I had met and married my lovely husband, Alan, and we are now approaching our sixth wedding anniversary. Mary gave me the piece of pottery back and it is one of my most treasured possessions.

God had provided me with this wonderful, Christian husband at just the right time. I was devastated when three years later my beautiful daughter moved two hundred miles away when she got married. In my previous plans, I had always envisaged Louisa living close to home as an adult and that we would go out on shopping trips, cinema viewings and coffee mornings together. After just over two years of marriage, my son-in-law walked out on Louisa not once, but three times. This was something I had not planned for either. I expected Louisa would want to come home after this, but she is part of a church plant in her new home town and she is very happy there. When Louisa was first married I looked forward to loving her children – my much wanted grandchildren. But Louisa isn’t sure that is what God wants for her. But God’s provision of a loving, Christian husband blessed me so much. It also blessed Louisa, because she knows I am not lonely or sad anymore.

Last year Alan and I went on a short course named ‘The Course of Your Life’. The lessons were spread over a few weeks and they permanently altered my way of thinking. One of the sayings that we were told was, ‘Happy wife, happy life’! This was said as a joke, but not long ago I found a little laminated sign in a gift shop with these exact words displayed. The sign now hangs in our garden room.  Alan says that he appreciates the sign and the sentiment is very true!

But, much more importantly, I learnt about God’s agenda versus my own agenda. When I turned control of my life over to Him, life was still a succession of highs and lows. For example, Alan’s health has seriously deteriorated this year and I sometimes get tired coping. But I know that God’s Agenda will prove to be the best for both of us and He will continue to bless us.

So when seemingly unpleasant things happen unexpectedly, I try to remember to tell myself that this is all in God’s Agenda. Sometimes it’s hard to be patient when ‘storms’ happen in our lives. But during each storm I know that He is always with me and this certainty is my rock. I still flounder around at times until I remember and accept these truths. And then His calm surrounds and pervades me.

I pray that someone reading this will be encouraged to ‘Let go and let God’.

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Thank you Kay, for sharing part of your story with us! I can relate very closely to wanting to be in control of my life, and learning time and again how to trust God when that futile desire just doesn’t work. How about some of you who are reading today? How have you coped when your own agenda didn’t come to pass for your life, and God’s agenda changed things in ways you didn’t expect?

He does all things well.

July 12, 2014 | My Jottings

I’m not sure why I love pictures and videos of animal parents and their babies, but I do. There’s something about seeing a first-time animal mama nurture her little one in ways no one but God could have taught her. You can call it instinct and it is, but God is the one who thought up instinct and puts it inside those animal moms and dads.

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You may have already seen these pictures, but if you haven’t I hope you enjoy them today. Please click here.

I was in a sinking mood a couple of hours ago and happened to peruse this site, and my eyes filled with tears of wonder and I whispered out loud, “Oh Lord, You do all things well!” I just sat for a while thinking about Him and how beautiful His creation and ways are, and how good He is, no matter what others and our circumstances may otherwise proclaim.

What was your favorite photograph? (I especially loved all the bears and the little baby fox….)

Seeing the delightful pictures of these incredible animals helped me to trust the Lord a little more fully today. I hope you are trusting Him too….

Need to laugh and ponder and rejoice?

July 8, 2014 | My Jottings

Happy Tuesday everyone. I have just a few minutes before the second part of the Breakfast Brigade begins, and I thought I’d recommend a book to you. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I’ve been reading Donald Miller. Years ago I read his Blue Like Jazz and loved it. Last week I finished A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and it made me think about my life in ways I never had before. And it gave me a dream I shared with the Lord and left in His hands for fulfillment, or not. If you haven’t read these books I think you should.

Spurred on by A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, I just ordered a used copy of Miller’s Searching For God Knows What, it conveniently arrived yesterday in the mail, and I’m already chuckling and feeling stirrings of correction and hope. This book will bring some smart humor, pondering and rejoicing your way. Anyone need some of those?

Friends, when I ask you if you need to laugh, I mean the kind of silent laughing that shakes the bed at night when you’re trying to keep quiet. The kind you can’t stop. (By the way, are you familiar with Paperbackswap? I’ve been trading in the books I don’t plan to keep for years, and receiving books I want to read in the mail in exchange. Check it out.)

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So here’s a quote from the book I thought I’d share (and the author is referring to Robert Tilton’s imposter ministry and Shirley MacLaine’s outrageous belief that she is God, as she has stated in one of her spiritual books and the subsequent made-for-TV-movie):

“If you ask me, the way to tell if a person knows God for real, I mean knows the real God, is that they will fear Him. They wouldn’t go around making absurd political assertions and drop God’s name like an ace card, and they wouldn’t be making absurd statements about how God wants you to be rich and how if you send in some money to the ministry God will bless you. And for that matter, they wouldn’t be standing on a beach shouting about how they are God, twirling around in the waves. It seems like, if you really knew the God who understands the physics of our existence, you would operate a little more cautiously, a little more compassionately, a little less like you are the center of the universe.”

I realize that the above quote probably didn’t make you chuckle, and it wasn’t meant to. It was just something I read last night in bed before I turned out the light, and it moved something deep in me and made me think that sometimes I trifle with the God of the universe, don’t love and respect Him as He deserves.

I will say more later but for now I must get dressed and prepare to welcome some of the dearest women I know into my home for our weekly summer Bible study. The kitchen isn’t clean, the chairs aren’t set out, and the coffee isn’t yet made.

Grace and peace to you all….

238 Years Old

July 4, 2014 | My Jottings

I’ve been teased over the years because the 4th of July is my least favorite holiday. “What are you going to do to celebrate the 4th, Mom?” Sharon will often jest. I’m not sure why, but fireworks and picnics have never been things that excited me. I’m really a dud on the 4th.

I am grateful to have been born and to live in this beautiful country. I want to be a more faithful pray-er for our leaders and citizens. And I always shed a few tears when I hear “God Bless America” being sung. But I also want to be more faithful as I pray for the world. There are so many all over this globe who need our prayers and God’s direction and reality in their lives. (Just as I desperately need the same.) It’s overwhelming to consider.

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But we won’t be oohing and aahing over our city’s fireworks show tonight — I’m pretty certain I’ll be asleep by 10:10 when they begin.

Whatever you do to celebrate the 4th (assuming you’re an American), I hope you have a fun, friendly, family, food-filled time.

Thank you for stopping by here….

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