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.

 

 

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.

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