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. 

https://www.biblegateway.com/

 

Here’s To A Happy Heart

Heart WreathFebruary is awash with hearts. Valentine’s Day and National Heart Health Month make it nearly impossible to avoid those little red wonders.

Having received a frightening diagnosis, and with a difficult procedure looming ahead, I was surprised that I had felt happy. Finding out a loved one has cancer is no easy pill to swallow. I marveled at those moments and wondered how they were possible in the midst of such difficult circumstances. Like bright rays shining through thick dark clouds; the happiness, like sunshine came from other places. In this case, it was places of the heart.

Just as proper diet and exercise contribute to the health of our hearts, what I fed my soul contributed to the happiness of my heart. I was alone, facing surgery, peaceful and happy.

Benefits of a Happy Heart 

The overall condition of our hearts impacts other aspects of our lives: our attitudes, our actions, our relationships and even the things we say.Berry Wreath Door

Consider the many benefits to having a happy heart. First, it helps us feel better. “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.” Proverbs 17:22. Secondly, it improves our looks. “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Proverbs 15:13. Thirdly, it impacts our speech and behavior. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good…for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. ” Luke 6:45.

Preparations of the Heart

While I long to be happy, peaceful and kind, I tend to base my ‘happiness’ on my ‘happenings’. Consequently my attitudes, feelings and behaviors blow with the changing winds of circumstance. The difference comes when I properly prepare my heart.

There’s an awesome heart-healthy recipe found in the book of Philippians, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8. The peace of God is promised to accompany such meditation and I have found that to be true.

How About You

Have you found your happiness driven by your circumstances? Would you like to be characterized as someone with a happy heart? Maybe you find yourself cold at times, hard-hearted and without any good feeling at all. It could be that you need a new heart. God made a promise to His people that I have requested for myself. “Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh,” Ezekiel 11:19. It’s a good promise and a good prayer. May God grant you the happiest of hearts.

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.

Middle heart wreath compliments of: http://everbloomingoriginals.com.

Seeing Clearly

20160209_141431I got new glasses a couple months ago. At 50 blah-blah-blah years old, it was about time. This new pair was a double whammy for me; bi-focal & progressive lenses. They made me dizzy and nauseous. The ‘vision specialist’ said it was normal and would soon pass. This swanky pair of spectacles came with instructions; I’d have to find the sweet spot. I must say, there is something almost magical about the ‘sweet spot’. In this case, I could see clearly and didn’t require Dramamine®.

I remember my first pair of prescription glasses. I don’t mean the ones I pretended to need in Junior High (sorry mom) but the ones I needed as an adult. Putting those glasses on for the first time was amazing! I was shocked at how much and how far I could see. We drove to Santa Barbara that afternoon and I was like a child in the car. I kept taking the glasses off and putting them on, comparing my vision with and without glasses. What clarity. What beauty. What a difference! It’s as if I had been blind.

20160209_204414Clearer Vision

There’s another day that I will never forget; a day far better than when I picked up my glasses. It’s the day I began seeing with eyes of faith. All of life became clearer and more purposeful. Whereas I once saw only the masterpiece, I now perceive the hand of the Master. With broad strokes and tiny brushes He paints the detailed picture of my life. His blessed word is both a wounding and a comfort to my soul. By it I am assured that any discomfort, any crucible of pain or suffering at His hand, is as needful as a chisel in the hand of a sculptor. So, whether the colors are bright and beautiful or dark and defining, I yield to the touch of the Master’s hand. I can see clearly in the dim valley of vision because “I walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians. 5:7.

Perfect Sight

One thing remained unclear for so long; how to reconcile a perfect God with an imperfect person as myself. I stood in my own way, hindering my own view. It became clear when I found the ‘sweet spot’, the one place where justice meets mercy. It was at the cross. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9.

Someday I will lay my glasses aside, never to need them again. I can’t understand it all this side of heaven but I know this “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2. Then I will at last say, “I once was blind but now I see.” -John Newton-

How About You?

Are you having trouble seeing things clearly? Need help making sense of things, of life, of loss or pain?  You might need a ‘vision specialist’. The Psalmist made a simple request of God that might be helpful for you as well, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law.” Psalm 119:18. 

God bless you and keep you,

R. Marie

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