love reminders

Tucked between my license and credit card, a love reminder. Composed by Hallmark but chosen by my husband, a little love reminder to carry with me.

A Reminder of My Love

Remember that I love you and I’m proud you’re my wife. 

Remember that, no matter what, you have a friend for life. 

 A love reminder for anniversary #34 because I need to be reminded.

Remember that you’re on my mind each day and everywhere.

My love for you grows stronger still with every year we share. 

Committed to memory, I carry love reminders from my Heavenly Father. Precious and loving words written in His Love Letter to me. Love reminders from the great I am because He so loved. 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)

Reminders of His unconditional love that never disappoints and never ends. 

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. Ephesians 3:18 (NLT)

This past Sunday in church, I sang of love reminders. From the chorus of Bethel’s Music, Extravagant, reminders of His unthinkable kind of love.

It’s extravagant, it doesn’t make sense
We’ll never comprehend, the way You love us
It’s unthinkable, only heaven knows
Just how far You’d go, to say You love us
To say You love us
To say You love us

Just how far did God go to say He loves me?

God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.’ ~ Billy Graham

the horse rider

As the chickens strutted around our feet, we introduced ourselves to the mother and her three sons. Jorge,  (pronounced Hor-hay) was enrolled in the local Compassion project. Under the warm Mexican sun, our lives intertwined as we listened, prayed, and enjoyed their chickens, turkeys, and Jorge’s pet turtle.

Through our interpreter, Jorge shared his dream to be a horse rider. We questioned if he meant a jockey. No, a horse rider or cowboy (vaquero). Life atop a horse appealed to this young man.

When asked about his experience at the Compassion project, Jorge ran and returned with his Bible. His name printed in large letters down its spine.

With his permission, we circled verses. We took Jorge’s Bible in our hands and recalled verses of love, hope, and second chances. Ink around Holy Words that carried us through challenges and tough times.

Tammy, a California sweetheart, shared 2 Corinthians 5:7, For we live by faith, not by sight. Her childhood engrained in her, “If you can’t see, you can’t believe. Not true these days as I follow the Lord. It is an amazing verse for me.”

Bronwyn, my author-friend from Arizona, circled the twelfth chapter of Romans. “For me, that chapter began a life-changing turn in my life.”

My pen landed at Romans 15:13, my life verse. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” A hope-infused verse I claimed during dark days when tears flowed often. I signed my name and added, Jesus te ama (Jesus loves you).

We poured ourselves onto the thin pages. Our stories written in the Book filled with His Story.

So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty,but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)

The ink-marked verses stand as reminders for Jorge. Visual reminders of a Sunday morning when strangers visited his family and his pet turtle. And circled words highlighted God’s love for a little horse rider.

beauty remains

I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains. ~ Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

We  unwrapped the fragile ocean jewel and placed it in front of him. A delicate sand dollar with five tiny doves hidden inside. Our sponsored child, Angel, wrote of his dream to visit the ocean so we carried the beauty of the ocean to him.

As we presented our gifts to Angel,  we witnessed pure joy. In this age of beeping gadgets, simple pleasures widened his eyes and broadened his smile. Beauty is found in the eyes of the beholder and Angel’s eyes found beauty in everything. Our time together felt like Christmas morning filled with wonder and amazement.

With a small air pump used to inflate his soccer ball, he blew air at our faces. Giggles erupted. Pleased with those results, he shot a blast of air into an empty candy wrapper and squealed as it sailed through the air.

We blew bubbles together. When my husband captured one on the wand, Angel studied it as a true wonder of life. A shimmering delicacy. Then he popped it and a chain reaction of laughter began.

For six hours, we experienced the beauty of life through Angel’s eyes. Fun and new; bright and hopeful. Then Angel turned toward the sound of children running and kicking a ball. Our trinkets and treasures provided amusement. But we couldn’t give him what those children had: use of his legs. The moment passed. His smile returned; his resiliency rebounded. Angel, you are our hero.

One glorious day it will be different. With Jesus as his Forever Friend, Angel will walk, run, hop, skip, and jump around Heaven. No handicaps or limitations. No wheelchair; nothing to hold him back. When Angel takes his first step, it will be the most beautiful sight indeed.

How weary we grow of our present bodies. That is why we look forward eagerly to the day when we shall have heavenly bodies that we shall put on like new clothes. 2 Corinthians 5:2 (TLB)

Angel taught us to enjoy life’s simple pleasures: seashells, air pumps, and bubbles. Through his eyes, he reminded us to see beauty not misery.

campfire communion

We came in search of heat and sweet treats: roasted marshmallows. I squatted in the dirt beside the small fire. In his wheelchair, a Mickey Mouse blanket warmed Angel’s legs. He watched as the flames transformed the marshmallow into darkened goodness.

I slid the melted glob off the stick and offered it to Angel. I opened my mouth to demonstrate, comer (eat). After some hesitation, he dived in. The sugary sweetness and stickiness delighted his senses. When it was time to clean up, I volunteered to help.

With a wet wipe, I washed Angel. Gently, I took his face in my hands. His eyes revealed his trust. I wiped away the marshmallow remains from his brown skin. I held his small hands in mine and cleaned 10 little fingers inspecting between each one. Beside a small fire on a Mexican mountaintop, a campfire communion.

A sticky marshmallow shared instead of bread. With no water or basin, wet wipes washed little hands and a smiling face. I cleaned and cared for Angel with love. Holy, honoring, and humbling as the flames flickered before us. In this remote place, two worlds, two generations, two languages collided in the sacredness of communion. Serve like Christ, care like Christ, and love like Christ.

Our sponsor day ended. Sorrowful adioses echoed through the pines. I retreated to my bus and Angel to his. We traveled back to our lives, forever changed and forever connected.

When I take the bread and drink the cup, I will recall the precious time spent with Angel. Where roasted marshmallows and wet wipes, when offered in love, represented the heart of Christ. Where I experienced the intimacy of His Great Love, beside a campfire on a Mexican mountaintop.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 (NIV)

preparation

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Preparation is deflated soccer balls, bubbles, crayons, and Spanish lessons on You Tube. Hola, me llama Krista and Jesus te ama. Preparation week culminates with a Chipotle burrito and a Walmart run for play-doh and Pepto Bismol.

Evidence of months of preparation surround me. Clothes, shoes, and personal items packed amongst a collection of toys. Final preparation for our visit to meet Angel, a special little boy in Mexico. Angel is confined to a wheelchair but has a contagious smile.

With suitcases packed and checklists accomplished, I pause to consider a deeper level of preparation. Is my heart ready?

Lord, prepare me. Prepare my heart to love. Prepare me to be a blessing. Prepare me to love my bothers and sisters with a heart like Yours. 

As Simon Peter requested a total-body cleansing, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (John 13:9 NIV), I seek complete-body prep work.

Prepare all of me, Lord.

Prepare my hands to grasp little fingers. Prepare my eyes to see the lonely and encircle them with love. Prepare my feet to travel where poverty lives and offer hope. Prepare my voice for giggles and prayers. Prepare my mind for the lessons You have for me. 

When I kneel beside Angel’s wheelchair, prepare me to communicate a love he feels and understands. Prepare and bless our time together. May our gifts keep his smile burning bright. Prepare words of hope and encouragement to his family members. Then prepare me for my final good-bye and hug. Yes, Lord, please prepare me. 

I’ve spent 5 months sharpening the ax, now it’s time to go cut down the tree. Jesus te ama. Adios. 

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

Due to this trip, my next posting will be Thursday, January 25th.

beauty

I longed for beauty as January’s cold and gray enticed me to remain in bed. As neighbors yanked lights from their doorways and tossed once decorated trees to the curb, I searched for beauty. 

Beauty calls and awakens us uniquely. My mother-in-law creates beauty through embroidering and beading. My husband describes beauty as a well-crafted golf shot. My oldest daughter’s face reflects the beauty in her son’s giggle. My youngest daughter designs and paints beauty on her easel.

I see beauty in every child’s face and in a spiral-thrown football delivered to an open receiver. January displays her beauty in snowflakes and icicles, crowded bird feeders, thick wooly sheep, crackling fires, sweater-wrapped dogs, steaming mugs of hot chocolate, and deer tracks through the snow. With a recent loss of electricity, beauty appeared when darkness gave way to light.

On this side of Heaven, I seek and find earth’s limited beauty in people, places, and things.

We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.~ C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Not until I reach my Heavenly Home, will I experience the Beauty described by Lewis.

At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.~ C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

When I am no longer on the wrong side of the door, I will bathe in the light of True Beauty, Jesus Christ. Lewis is correct. That kind of Beauty cannot be described with words.

  • Let’s look for beauty and thank God for filling our lives with it. 

Dear Heavenly Father,  Until we stand in your Splendor, help us to seek beauty and appreciate this world You created for us. Thank you for loving us. Amen

believe

Believe. A popular word during the holiday season especially with children and their parents. The elf on the shelf watches and reports to the big guy, so believe.

As the calendar turns to 2018, I chose Believe as my guide word for the New Year. Years ago, I moved passed the struggle of belief in Santa and reindeer. Now, my head and heart engage in a tug-of-war of higher and holier beliefs.

I read and believe God’s Holy Word. I believe in six-day Creation, Noah’s Ark, Moses’ exodus, David’s Goliath, Esther’s and Ruth’s courage, and Elijah’s chariot of fire.

I believe in the Virgin Birth and the Holy Resurrection. I believe in Paul’s conversion through John’s Revelation.

I battle how to live according to these beliefs? How to live a life empowered by the same strength, same courage, same faith as Noah, Moses, David, Esther, Ruth, Elijah, Paul, and John? How to step out and act boldly?

Too often fear, worry, and disbelief cloud and confuse. I waver and doubt. Dare I ask Jesus to show me His nail prints? Jesus isn’t surprised by my struggles. He knows ‘me of little faith’ and loves me still.

In Mark 9, a father with an impure spirit-possessed son asked Jesus’ disciples for healing. They could not, so the father pleaded his case to Jesus.

 “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” Mark 9:19 (NIV)

Before Jesus commanded the deaf and mute spirit to leave, the father spoke words of truth.

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24 (NIV)

Those words are my prayer for 2018:  I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief. 

Help me believe I am loved with an outrageous love of another kind, believe I am here for a unique purpose, and believe I am a chosen daughter of the King. 

When unbelief threatens my belief, I will cling to Jesus’ words. 

“Everything is possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23 (NIV) 

plans

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16: 3 (NIV)

A catch-up breakfast with friends, an impromptu lunch with my best friend, and late-night hot chocolates with my best buddies. December’s calendar overflows with plans. Shopping, wrapping, decorating, and family gatherings. A December wedding created a flurry of plans: floral arranging, light hanging, table decorating, and cup cake delivering.

Plans fill the season. Then life happens and plans change.

Seventeen years ago, my mother celebrated her first Christmas in Heaven. Sudden and abrupt, she left behind Christmas gifts and holiday plans. As family gathered around the tree and table, she sat in the wondrous light of Jesus. 

Funeral plans in the midst of Christmas caused sadness and confusion. Life turned upside down brought plans to a halt.

This December, a sudden change of plans. A Pastor called to his eternal Home. Now, a wife plans without a husband. A mother and father plan life without a son. Three children plan their futures without a beloved father. A church plans for a new pastor. Many new plans needed to fill the hole vacated by a big life. A new normal requires a new plan.

When life happens and plans change, God is never surprised.

His plans have been in motion since the beginning of time.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

Mary, a young girl from Bethlehem, had a plan. A wonderful plan. A practical, common sense plan. 1. Marry her beloved Joseph, a carpenter. 2. Set up their home as newlyweds. 3. Start a family.

God had other plans. He interrupts our plans with His very best plan.

The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35 (NIV)

Plans change as life ebbs and flows. Unplanned interruptions take us down new paths filled with new plans.

The challenge is to respond as humbly and selflessly to God’s interruptions like Mary.

I am the Lord’s servant, Mary answered. Luke 1: 38 a (NIV)

 

 

 

misfit

How would you like to be a spotted elephant?
Or a Choo-Choo with square wheels on your caboose?
Or a water pistol that shoots… jelly?
We’re all misfits!
How would you like to be a bird that doesn’t fly? I swim!
Or a cowboy who rides an ostrich?
Or a boat that can’t stay afloat?
We’re all misfits!

In 1964, Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special introduced the world to a group of misfit toys. The eclectic group lived together on an island because of their abnormalities. All abandoned by their owners due to a handicap.

As I considered my own limitations, the misfit label seemed to apply.  Injured by a heavy barn door, my right foot is larger than my left. Misfit. Poor hearing in my right ear. Misfit. I have no sense of direction and I can’t swim. Misfit. My front tooth is chipped. Misfit.

My earthly body has many shortcomings and limitations. But one day, I will be upgraded to my eternal body. God promises a transformation: lowly to glorious!

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21 (NIV)

When I leave my residency here and enter my eternal home there, my right foot will be healed. My sense of direction will be spot on. Swimming will become my favorite heavenly hobby. And my hearing and my smile will be perfect. All my wrongs will be made right since there are no misfits in Heaven.

We may be different from the rest
Who decides the test
Of what is really best?
We’re a couple of misfits
We’re a couple of misfits

Hermey, the Elf, and Rudolph ask the question, Who decides the test of what is really best?  I’m thankful God has the final say and misfit isn’t in His vocabulary.

Why am I such a misfit? I am not just a nit wit! Why don’t I fit in?

Yes, I’m a misfit! But only for a short while. In eternity, I will be splendid, glorious, and perfect. God promises.

 

brown leaves

For 363 days a year, I am a tree-lover. I enjoy their shade during the summertime heat and marvel at their colorful fall display. During thunderstorms, I witness their strength as they bend and sway anchored by deep roots. Trees improve my air quality and provide homes for a gazillion pesky squirrels and my beloved birds.

But two days at the end of November, I transform into a tree-whiner. As the hickory, maple, and oak leaves float to the ground, I moan and groan as I rake and rake.

Most of my anger is aimed at Ornery, the Oak. Ornery is the mightiest oak, the big man on campus. He refuses to play by the established yard rules. When it is time to battle the leaves, Ornery never cooperates. Towering above the rest, Ornery delights in keeping his brown leaves longer than any other tree. He prefers to wait until the first snow to release his lingering leaves. Every winter, Ornery’s brown leaves dot the white snow. Oh, Ornery is a stubborn oak.

What are the brown leaves in my life? Like Ornery, what do I stubbornly refuse to release?  Fear, worry, and unforgiveness are some brown leaves I allow to linger.  Unlike Ornery’s light-weight dried leaves, mine weigh heavily hindering my walk and my growth.

God encourages me to release my burdensome load into His care. He promises to gather my brown leaves and give me a fresh start like Ornery’s new buds in springtime. Let go of the dead, embrace the new.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

As December winds blow, I look up and see Ornery waving his brown leaves. I ask God for strength to let go of mine. Strength to trust deeper and forgive faster.

With my rake stored and snow shovel retrieved, I await the first snow. Ornery and I are ready to release our brown leaves.

Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone, but in every leaf in springtime. ~Martin Luther

 

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