Your Life’s Purpose

sign-20170217_150119-1-roxI couldn’t help myself. I found this sign in my local craft store and fell in love with it. The message was cute and the stained pallet-wood was perfect for my country home. I had the ideal wall space for it and I wouldn’t have to re-place anything. It was the connection between the message and the prospective location that made me laugh out loud. I suppose the on-lookers expected to see some silly looking thing. Nope, just me and some painted wood. You see, the location in question was my laundry room.

Envisioned were multiple visits with a therapist for psychological damage caused by that message burning into my sub-conscious while doing laundry: ‘Perhaps This Is the Moment for Which You Were Created’. Don’t get me wrong, laundry is not beneath me. It’s just that I’d like to think that God had something bigger in mind for me; something a bit more grand and glorious than washing clothes. I left the sign at the store.

Placed For a Purpose

crown-759297_960_720-pixabayHadassah found herself in a precarious situation. A new edict from King Ahasuerus transformed every beautiful young maiden into a royal prospect. Hadassah would have to hide her true identity, changing her name to Esther and concealing her Jewish heritage. Each young woman would be presented to the king. One by one they came and went. But Esther found favor with the king and it was on her head that he placed the royal crown. Esther would be queen instead of Vashti. Amazing!

A plot was uncovered that would mean the annihilation of the Jews. Esther received a request to go before the king and plead for her people. But there was a law. Except he hold out his scepter, anyone going before the king unsummoned would be put to death. Interceding for her people might bring about her own execution. She returned word to Mordecai explaining why she couldn’t do it and received this message, Esther 4:14 ”For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther’s purpose far exceeded a crown and a kingdom. It was the saving of her people.

God’s plans are always grand and glorious. It’s just that the details in the working out of those plans can be mundane, seemingly ridiculous and occasionally terrifying. He brings us through places to refine us to get us to places to let us shine like the Son.

How About You

Have you ever wondered what your purpose is? Do you get so bogged down in your duties that you mistake them for your destiny? Are your circumstances so frightening, so dire that a cup of coffee and load of laundry seem like a little piece of heaven?

We may dislike where we are, not realizing it’s just a stopping place on the way to where we need to be. Take heart. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.(KJV) God knows where you are. He has a plan for your life and will see it through to the end.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

You can read more of Esther’s fabulous story in the book of Esther.

Hope For America

white-house-1953465_960_720America just swore in the 45th President of the United States. Once again, we witnessed a peaceful transition of power. No cracked crowns. No military coup. We saw the public display of well wishes, hugs & handshakes and the departure of the previous President and his family. Yet, somewhere between the pomp and the platitudes lies a nation in crisis.

We the People

We’ve heard the words ‘We the People’ spoken in recent days. Our constitution’s preamble begins with these words and it’s not a bad place to start looking for answers. But what if we went deeper & made it more personal? What if we each looked beyond ‘We The People’ to ‘Me The Person’ and asked serious questions of ourselves?

  • Does my desire to be heard supersede my obligation to listen?
  • Is the light I desire to share dimmed by a self-righteous superiority of attitude with which I try to share that light?
  • Have I relegated myself to the comfort of my like-minded friends for fear of clashing with a conflicting culture?
  • Do the words I speak live up to the life that I have been given, or has my life made His words irrelevant to a watching & listening world?

white-house-451544_960_720Steadfast Hope

Our nation’s hope is not dependent upon changing cultural winds or political outcomes.  It was not decimated when President Obama left the White House nor did it arrive with President Trump.  Our hope is in a God who is in control and does not change. Psalm 103:19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.

God’s sovereignty was not sideswiped by this vicious election nor is it weakened by the bombastic and violent assertions of people wanting us to know they matter. Psalm 11:4 The Lord is in His holy temple, The Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. God sets up kings and establishes kingdoms according to His purpose. He knows what’s happening here.

How About You

Are you concerned about the unknowns of upcoming days? While it is unnerving to be sure, we need not quiver in a corner waiting for the proverbial hammer to fall. Rather, let’s examine our own hearts and determine what we can do to be part of the mending of our land. Proverbs 21:1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. While we wait on God to turn the king’s (president’s) heart; maybe we should ask Him to turn ours as well.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Hope for the New Year

dandelion-1545407_960_720Words fail me as I offer this brief New Year’s greeting. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have shared some of life’s lessons with you in 2016 and for the encouragement you’ve given me. Writing has certainly been a challenge and I have learned many things.

We began the year with cancer, casts and crutches and ended walking unencumbered and cancer-free. Through it all I found that God is faithful (in our wounding & our healing) and that He does all things well.

Hope for 2017
Let us move forward into this New Year with hope. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil. Hebrews 6:19. Will there be failures? That’s a certainty. But we should not fear these failures, for we know they will be met by a compassionate heavenly Father, providing fresh mercy with each new day. Lamentations 3:22-24 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 

There are many exciting days ahead; beautiful, unnerving, wearisome and wonderful days. Do you worry about what’s in store for this New Year? Wonder if you’re going to make it or how? Rest assured that you can make it through for we are promised, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31.

Happy New Year.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Photo compliments of Pixabay Creative Commons CC0.

Service That Demands A Reason

It’s not long after children learn to speak that they begin asking questions. I think the favorite of all time is ‘why’. It’s natural for them to wonder why birds fly, why trees are called trees and why they can’t stand in shopping carts. They desire to understand their world; and reasons help them make sense of things. We’re the same way.

I ask myself the ‘why question’ at times when it comes to my faith and service. Much of what we are called to do by faith doesn’t make sense when we walk by sight. A re-visiting of Jesus’ story puts things back into perspective and service makes sense for me once again. I hope this re-telling of His story will do that for you as well.

A Sacrificial Death

crucified-cross-578217_960_720-pixabayThe day was long and dismal; the haters many. Evil enjoyed its finest hour as the Savior of the World hung dying on a cross. Darkness seized the day. Mockers shouted blasphemous cruelty at the One who came to seek and save that which was lost. While gamblers parted His garments, the Son-of-Man made provision for His mother and gave eternal hope to a dying thief.

The moment had come. Death took his best shot. With three short words, “It Is Finished”, Jesus commended His Spirit into the hands of His Father and Life breathed His last. The earth shook. The rocks were split. The thick veil of the temple was rent; torn from top to bottom by hands far greater than the ones that nailed His Son to the tree. His mother was grieved, his disciples fearful and confused as the Hope of Nations was laid in a borrowed tomb. Was there ever so palpable a darkness?

Hope Resurrected

empty-cave-1642215_960_720-pixabay-crerative-commonsIt was the third day. Morning came and the last vestige of night rolled away with the stone. The Son of God rose with power, conquering the very death that once slew Him. Women came to anoint His body for a proper burial but He wasn’t there. The tomb lay empty, housing nothing more than a linen napkin and the empty shell of grave cloths. Life and Light conquered death and darkness; and every hope once buried with Christ rose with Him. And so we live.

The Reason that Demands Our Service

Every bit of brutality Jesus endured on the cross was payment for a debt He didn’t owe. The debt was ours. Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. This wasn’t something that just happened. It was for this very reason He came into the world. Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” He chose this!

We serve Him because He is worthy. We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19.  His death is our payment.His resurrection is our hope. His word is our message. His love is our proof and His promise is our future.sunrise-1460243_960_720-pixabay-creative-commons 1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” We serve Him so that others may know; until the last battle, on the last day. And then, in peace we will serve Him still.

How About You

Still asking yourself the ‘why question’? Wondering if this Jesus is really all that He’s professed to be? You’re in good company. One of His disciples had the same question. John 1:46 And Nathanael said to him “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” And so I extend the invitation to you.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Pictures: Compliments of Pixabay Creative Commons CC0.

 

 

 

Comfortable Crosses

Sunshine Cross 923890_960_720PixabayMost all of us have been there before. You know, that place where your ‘should-have-been’ and your ‘wish-it-was’ doesn’t line up with your ‘how-it-is’. It’s not a fun place to be but there I was. I didn’t say anything, at least not out loud but the statement was made all the same. “Lord, I don’t know how to be anymore.” I wasn’t looking for an answer. I didn’t ask a question. Silent but sure the answer came, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32. What was I to do with that?

I had the rebuttals (both witty and whiny), the wherefores and the reasons. They were good ones too. I know. I worked hard on them, mulling them over and refining them like polished silver. ‘It’s-not fair’ and ‘I shouldn’t have to’ seemed pretty good. After all, I wasn’t at fault in the matter. The problem was my excuses didn’t line up with my calling.

Comfortable Crosses

Cross Necklace1330677_960_720PixabayI sat alone, thinking after prayer meeting one morning. My mind wandered a bit until my eye caught the cross over the baptistery. It’s a simple cross; sanded, stained and varnished to match the rest of the wood in the church. It lends a respectful nod to the cross of long ago but lacks the rugged, brutal character of the one on which our Savior died.

While I stray near the borders  of the comfort zone of my faith, I’m not so keen to sacrifice for others or to bestow upon them the grace that was so freely given to me. To be honest, I’m better acquainted with a shiny cross around my neck than a rugged one behind my back.

Call of the Cross

Jesus addressed a group of His followers, explaining the demands of service.  Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. The call of the cross is ‘life by a thousand deaths’. It’s the daily laying aside of our rights and privileges for the sake of others. It’s getting us out of the way so they can see Him. That’s not easy.

If anyone had the right to demand His rights, it was Jesus. He could have cried unfair. He could have saved Himself. He did neither. Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do you not know that I have power to crucify you, and power to release you?” John 19:10. Pilate couldn’t take His life and he didn’t have to. Jesus said, “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:18. Our pardon was the plan of the Father. Our payment was the price of His Son. Our privilege is to take up the cross and follow.

How About You

Do you struggle with this as I do? Do you wonder how to get past the natural tendency to want to strike back? We must look beyond the pleasure of retaliation to the place of restoration. Jesus gave us the example. He made the pathway clear. We just need to walk in it; and we do that by faith. You’ll be amazed to witness this uncomfortable cross bring comfort and peace.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Pictures taken from Pixabay Creative Commons CCO

Permanently Erased

pencil-1277094_960_720 PixabayYou can almost smell it in the air. It should have its own season. Yep, it’s back-to-school time. While I don’t have a pony in this race back-to-school, I have perused the supply aisle at least once this summer. Why? For the love of school supplies and the memories they evoke. New pencils & pens, rulers & notebook paper. Love it, love it, love it! Protractors & compasses; not just for geometry. I could make flowers and measure angles & circumferences. Okay, so I wasn’t a math whiz. All those supplies in my well-appointed binder made this organization-loving heart of mine sing.

My Eraser

I possess some perfectionist tendencies that were evident in grade school, making one particular supply a must have. My eraser. It started the year as a clean, pink rubber parallelogram and ended a small, dirty and rounder shadow of its former self. There were other erasers, cuter & fancier ones to be sure but they either smeared the pencil lead  over the paper or worked a hole in it. This one was different. It lifted the penciled errors onto itself, leaving dirty rubber shards on my desk. When the task was completed; the shards, the last vestige of my mistakes, were brushed onto the floor and swept away, never to be seen again. To this day I must have a pink eraser.

Permanently Erased

An encounter with a holy God left me with a bit of a problem. He wasn’t interested in myeraser-316446_960_720 Pixabay (2) perfectionist tendencies. He demanded perfection. My failures are many and grievous.  Good deeds and sacrifices could cover my them but could never take them away.

Jesus stepped in and, like that eraser took my sin upon Himself. 1 Peter 2:24  who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. With that one perfect sacrifice, my sins (like shards) were wiped away; never to be seen again. Psalm 103:12  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. I still mess up and to this day I find myself in need of a Savior. I’m grateful for this standing offer: 1 John 1:9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

How About You

Do you long for a clean slate, wishing parts of your past could be erased? Do you hesitate to go to God, fearing your sins long-since-forgiven will be thrown back in your face? Take heart dear friend.  Jeremiah 31:34  No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”  The rebellious people of God were given this promise if they would return to Him. It’s there for you as well. So, how about it?

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Pictures from Pixabay Creative Commons

 

 

 

 

The Author’s Critique

Cynthia Ruchti headshot 2016My first encounter with the author was brief and interesting. I spent little more than a few minutes mingling with other conferees when Cynthia approached the group. She was warmly greeted and seemed to be known by most. I introduced myself, expecting a cursory nice-to-meet-you. Instead, she was friendly and welcoming; stating how glad she was to meet ‘me’ and how much she looked forward to our time together. It was a far cry from the pseudo-smile this newbie expected to receive.

When she left, one of the writers told me that Cynthia liked my work. I insisted that was ridiculous and that she had no way of knowing that. I was told she wouldn’t have acted that way if she didn’t like me. She would’ve shaken my hand and moved on.

Her Critique

We had 15 minutes scheduled for my critique in a room filled with tables and other critiques. She sought a quiet place where we could review my work privately while I encouraged myself to not cry or take the criticism personally. “Don’t worry about all the red marks” she said. The pages were littered with red marks. More self-talk. “Breathe just breathe.” I expected rejection. As Waters Gone By high res(1)Our 15 minute meeting turned into an hour as she instructed and encouraged me. She showed me what to remove, what corrections to make and how to paint pictures with words.  Cynthia went on to talk of beauty, possibility, potential and what she envisioned for the future. It was amazing.

I began reading her book in my doctor’s office. Though I received her instruction readily, it wasn’t until I read her work that I understood. Her words came to life in the pages of her book. I saw and felt things described but not stated. Reading the book helped me understand the author.

His Critique

Years ago, I heard about a God who loved me. While I believed that He loved everybody I didn’t understand His love to be personal. It couldn’t be. My list of offenses was lengthy and the crimes weighty. His words to me were encouraging and in a quiet place He spoke to me.  Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.” Knowing myself as I did, I expected the worst from Him…rejection. His vantage point was as far different from mine as were His thoughts. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. I expected rejection. He offered hope and a future.

I later picked up His book. His words were life and wisdom and peace. The more I read, the more I understood myself, the world, and Him. He made sense.

How About You

Have you ever wondered if God really does love you? If He didn’t, He wouldn’t have done what He did for you. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Maybe you have difficulty understanding Him. May I suggest reading His book? It will help you understand The Author.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. ® Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

A special thanks to Cynthia Ruchti for her words of help and encouragement and  the provision of these photos. You can visit her website, Cynthia Ruchti Hemmed in Hope at www.cynthiaruchti.com.