New Year’s Wishes

candle-2992645_960_720 PixabayIt’s hard to believe we’re nearing the end of January 2018. While the year is no longer brand new, it’s new-ish. So Happy New Year! I have a wish list for you this year. But first, I must express my gratitude.

Thank you for being there. Your faithful presence amazes me, especially when there are large gaps between posts. Your words of encouragement have been much appreciated as well. You have allowed me to ‘be real’ even when my ‘real’ was ridiculous; and you’ve thanked me for it. So, from the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

New Year’s Wish List

Here are the promised wishes and I pray they will come true for you this year. I wish you…

  • Wisdom; that pure, peaceable, gentle stuff of heaven that judges rightly and without partiality or hypocrisy.
  • Excellence in all your endeavors. Not that excellence itself would be your god but rather your goal, and the manner with which you serve your God.
  • Grace- That it would be extended to you in your failures and would be extended when others fail you.
  • Passion– That you would live, love and serve with passion; because life is too short and the cause too great to merely go through the motions.
  • Friendship– That your friendships would be deeply rooted and widely spread and that there would always be room in your heart for just one more.
  • A Good Fight– There are hurting, helpless, hopeless, homeless and voiceless people. Find your courage, take up the gauntlet and stand up, pray up, pay up and speak up. Fight the good fight of faith.
  • Love– Love one another with pure hearts, fervently. Above all, love the One who first loved us and gave the last full measure of devotion to prove that love. This is the banner we take into the world and by this will all men know we are His disciples indeed.

I pray that 2018 will be a fabulous year. But if it’s to be our final year, I pray it be our finest year.

God bless you and keep you,

Roxanne

Picture compliments of Pixabay, Creative Commons CC0

Love Letters

rose-1894760_960_720 PixabayI’ve asked my husband many times about his love for me. You know the questions I’m talking about, the kind that make a man want to bang his head against the wall. I found a letter on my pillow not long ago that answered my questions. Seven pages detailed his love, admiration and respect.

He recalled our first meeting when I was 19, even remembering the sweater I wore. Our big date in Hollywood made the list, as did the ice cream running down my arm on the Walk of Fame (not my finest hour). He mentioned the walk on the pier; the walk that changed everything, sparking his desire to protect and care for me forever. Our life’s highlights were noted; along with things I didn’t think he remembered or cared about.

I revisit my letter time and again, re-reading my favorite lines. I love the one that speaks of his desire to spend the rest of his life loving me.

Timeless Love
bible-1031288_960_720 PixabayI have another letter, timeless and treasured. It speaks of a higher love, a greater love. This love transcends time and space and was declared long before this ‘lover of my soul’ ever spoke the words, “Let there be…” The letter is lengthy; its message deep.

It’s hard to fathom that so great a One as He would condescend to reach someone like me, and yet for love He did just that. At my worst, He gave His best and declared as He has to His people for centuries, Jeremiah 31:3 “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” I’ve had times when my thoughts of Him were few and fearful yet His thoughts of me are many and precious. Psalm 139:17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!

I revisit His letter time and again, re-reading my favorite lines. I love the part where He talks about my future and life beyond this one; 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.

How About You?
Are you searching for love? Have you sought it in places that proved to be empty? Do you long for a love that runs deep, goes the distance, counts the cost and finds the high price for your heart worth paying. You will find that love in a person. His name is Jesus and the letter of His love is written in red.

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.

Finding Contentment

20170329_215155 (3)I like new things. If they’re shiny, that’s even better. If red, well, that ‘is’ my signature color. So you’d think a shiny, new red kettle would make me happy. I had the perfect kettle. It was a lovely ‘blue-red’. I forgot about it one morning and burned out the water, cracking the coating inside. It was ruined. I looked for something similar but the best I could find was this ‘orangey-red’ one.

I struggled with keeping the new kettle or holding out for ‘the perfect’ one. In frustration I set the new one on the stove. I was sad. Miserably, pathetically sad. Oddly enough, it looks quite nice in the kitchen. Why couldn’t I see it?

Holding On
It seems God’s people shared similar feelings, albeit on a much grander and less humiliating scale. After 70 years of Babylonian captivity, some of the Jews returned to Jerusalem to rebuild their lives, their city and their temple. Under the leadership of Zerubbabel, workers assembled to begin the temple’s rebuilding. Many praised God when the foundation was laid. However, some were not so happy. Ezra 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy. Those that saw the glory of the original temple viewed the new one as nothing.

Letting Go
Why is it that things grip us so? Whether tea kettles, temples or something in between; pining for what we once had undermines contentment; leaving us bereft of joy and prohibiting us from enjoying life and moving on to greater things.

This happens in our spiritual lives as well. The apostle Paul was well educated and held a distinguished position as a Pharisee. Yet, to embrace all that God had for him, he had to release what he once held dear. Philippians 3:7-8 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

How About You
Is your heart set on former things; a position you once held, item you once had or relationship you once enjoyed? Are you struggling to find contentment with what is by mentally basking in the glory of what was? It’s a common struggle. Playing the dangerous game of comparison renders us casualties of mental-wars of our own making. Paul had the right perspective. He counted his losses as nothing in light of all he’d gain. Ready to move on to contentment? The answer is simple. You must first let go.

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.

 

 

The Bigger Picture

Maddie Eclipse (3)A recent celestial phenomenon captured the attention of a nation. Social media was awash with pictures; some of the eclipse, many of individuals preparing to watch it. One picture grabbed my attention more than any other. It was of one awestruck little girl named Maggie. Uninterested in self or selfies, she was fully in the moment; watching in wonder as the moon passed in front of the sun. While she was captivated by the eclipse, someone was captivated by her. The photo with its caption, ‘Best Shot I took of the Eclipse’ sent my mind wandering to biblical places; to the palace in Jerusalem.

Musing of a King
What sparked the king’s musing while considering the heavens? Was it a muted sunrise on a misty morning that drew him? Perhaps a thumbnail moon against a star-peppered midnight sky sent his thoughts to places far beyond his view. Whatever the splendor, the psalmist penned a question worth the thought of both lofty and lowly alike. “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? Psalm 8:3-4.

It’s not hard to imagine that God would be mindful of kings. But God was mindful of this king, King David, when he was still a shepherd. David was heaven-picked from a pasture and placed in a palace. It’s no wonder he’d ask so humble a question from so high an earthly place.

How About You
Have you ever experienced that sweet exchange, when you captured the magnificence of creation while it stole your breath away? When was the last time you stood in jaw-drop wonder at the creative genius of the God of the universe? Did you dare to imagine the bigger picture; that while you marveled at creation, the Creator was mindful of you?

Take a moment to consider the vastness of the universe and your privileged place in it, then ask the psalmist’s question for yourself, and maybe I will too. Perhaps we will conclude as King David did, “O Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8:9.

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 Maggie’s folks for allowing me to use this precious picture.

**Dear, sweet Maggie, I hope your life is beautiful and filled with many more wonders.

Is God Good?

key-west-86025_960_720 PixabayIs God good? It’s a question worth considering; and many have in recent weeks. With fires ravaging the west and hurricanes pummeling the east, our nation has been hit pretty hard. Whether you’re waist-high in water or standing near an ash heap; staring at the rubble of what once was your life is painful. And so we wonder.

A Costly Storm
He was stubborn. He said he would be fine. He was wrong. My father remained in his apartment in the French Quarters of New Orleans. I spoke with him a day or two before the storm hit and couldn’t convince him to leave. Katrina slammed hard into the Gulf Coast and the nation felt the sting of it.

The news was frightening and the search frustrating. Phone calls, internet lists and shelter searches led me down a rabbit hole to nowhere. In the end, sometime between hurricanes Katrina and Rita, my father lost his life. His body was found in his apartment weeks after the hurricane, having been missed on the first search. It was taken to a make-shift morgue where it was lost in a sea of body bags. There would be more weeks, more waiting, more searching and more questions.

If God is good, where was He in all of that? He was with me; right where He promised He’d be, doing just what He promised He’d do.  Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” A co-worker asked, “How are you even standing?” My answer, “I’m being held.” It’s true you know.

Measuring His Goodnessfire-89353_960_720 Pixabay
The measure of God’s goodness is not gauged by the shifting sands of our comfort. It is measured by the fixed mark of His sacrifice and discomfort, and all we stand to gain from it. So, regardless of how the wind blows; whether we’re safe and secure or we’re watching our dreams go up in smoke, we can say with calm assurance that God is good…even while our hearts are breaking.

How About You
Are you overwhelmed by all that’s happening in the world? Have the winds of suffering blown hard against your own life, leaving you desperate for hope and a peaceful place of solace? Jesus said, Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The offer is available for whoever will receive it. It’s there for 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.

 

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.

Wonderful Words

Words PicI love words. I always have. English was my favorite subject in school, with Spelling running a close second. I loved adding new words to my vocabulary. I often kept a dictionary nearby when reading and still feel compelled to look up unfamiliar words rather than settle for the gist of the sentence meaning.

My dad, in his very goofy style would often say, “Lay it down so I can…pick it up.” That sentence invokes a smile because I can still picture his gawky motions as he demonstrated his message. He said it once when I was trying out my new spelling words. He followed it with a short discourse on communication. His point being that the essence of communication is getting your message across. He said, “You can use a lot of fancy words but if people don’t understand what you’re saying, you have not communicated.”

Wonder of Words

The wonder of words is that they communicate so much and so well. Words are important. They are powerful. Much is learned about a person by the words they speak. It makes perfect sense that the God of the universe chose words to communicate Himself. He demonstrated His power when He spoke the words “Let there be” and then there was…the world. He inspired the prophets to pen and to speak His word to the world so that we could know Him; His majesty, His justice and His compassion & mercy.

When Words Aren’t Enough

As wonderful as it is to hear great flowery words, sometimes words alone just don’t cut it. We need to see them work. We need them proven. So much has been spoken about the love of God. His word is full of such messages and yet He didn’t just give us words. He demonstrated them. 1 John 4:9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Jesus effectively communicated the incredible love of God by laying down His own life for us. Romans 5:8. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. What greater love can there be!

How About You

Have you heard a lot of promising words only to find them empty? Can you use some life-giving words? Are you seeking truth, the meaning of life or even life itself? John 5:39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. Many people stopped following Jesus because they didn’t like His words. Jesus asked those remaining if they would leave also. John 6:68. But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”   My dad said, “Lay it down so I can pick it up.”  Jesus did that with His very life.  John 1:12 But as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: So, how about 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. 

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