I listen to the birds outside my window and feel the breeze on my face, and I know you are near. I love how great you are. You are our creator and teacher and comforting protector. Only You deserve our praise.
Lord, bless this day as you will. Keep my family in your care, and help me to honor you in all I say and do. Knowing You are the King of the Universe and in complete control, my heart is yours.
That was the only thing he said to me. He asked if I loved people.
I worked behind the counter in the church cafe almost every weekend for nearly three years, and I had never seen this guy before. He was pretty nondescript, older, quiet, and as he paid for his small purchase, that was the question burning on his mind?
I looked at him, smiled, and told the truth.
“I’m getting there.”
He looked at me and walked away, leaving me standing there with the answer burning on my mind. What a stupid answer, I thought. Everyone knows if you love Jesus, you are supposed to love all people. Who was that guy, and why would he ask such a thing of someone he didn’t even know?
A few months later, something happened that rocked my boat. It reminded me of that question, and I decided I needed to take a break until I knew without a shadow of doubt that my answer would be pleasing to God.
God sent challenges and lessons during that time of rest and continues to do so. My mind was stretched, my patience was tested, and my whole world was upended for a while as I searched my heart that was still a little cracked.
I discovered it’s difficult to love without trust, and if I couldn’t trust God to take my troubles from me and handle them in His way, then I could never rightly say I know how to love.
Years passed, and the world was rocked with a crisis that forced even more contemplation but revealed God’s blessings through change. I received a boldness I never knew I had to do things I never thought I’d do, and we received confirmation and peace about our choices.
There is still turmoil swirling around the world, but the peace remains along with the knowledge that loving Jesus first allows us to love people. He shows us how and when, and all we have to do is respond and leave the results up to Him. It doesn’t matter how we feel about the people. What matters is how God loves them. It sure takes a load off.
I never saw that man again, but I have a feeling his own lesson on love was in asking me that question, and we are both walking a little lighter.
Gray hair is a crown of glory, found on the path of righteousness.
In my youth, I never considered gray hair to be a good thing.
There were always the jokes about growing another gray hair from worry or how your kids turned your hair gray from who knows what, but I don’t remember hearing that gray hair was a sign of righteousness.
Having hair that started graying in my late 20’s, I started dyeing it and continued for decades. It was only when my hair person told me my hair was about 90% gray that I decided to take the plunge and chuck the processing that had turned into a bi-weekly ritual with root touch ups in between.
I was told at the time about eight years ago that there wasn’t a gray dye on the market to color my hair and hide the roots while my processed reddish brown color grew out (now it’s popular for young women to dye their hair gray. Go figure).
She suggested “low lighting” which of course is the opposite of “high lighting” in that it adds strands of a darker color than your base color. It didn’t make sense at first to do that. Wasn’t I trying to get rid of my fake color to go all gray? But low lighting was a good choice because it was more of a controlled addition of color that added dimension to keep my roots from being obvious as I grew out my hair to glorious gray. It worked so well I only had to have the low lighting process done one time, and not once did I feel self-conscious about having roots because they were disguised so well.
THIS is why multitudes of women go to hair care professionals. Many a distraught DIYer has graced the salon begging for repairs of a dye or bleach job that went amuck, and they pay far more than money in damaged hair than if they had gone to the salon in the first place. I did okay for years doing a simple home color process myself but no way was I going to mess up my hair with anything more complicated.
All this talk about hair…is it really that important? I suppose in the grand scheme of life it isn’t, but most women consider their hair to be a source of comfort or embarrassment, like an old friend. We talk about it, play with it, and compare it to others. We caress it or fight with it. It’s a blessed woman who is at peace with her hair in it’s natural state, which brings me back to what the proverb says about gray hair and righteousness.
Every stage of life offers strengths and benefits. When we are young we have vitality, energy, and physical strength. As we travel the path of life we learn as we go and our wisdom grows as the strengths of our youth diminish. Our gray hair is like a badge of honor that shows that we’ve been blessed with a long life; hopefully, a life of righteousness full of wise choices and a humble esteem of God before all else.
I grew up in a household with a vocal Democrat mom and a quiet Republican dad. They were married for almost 60 years; proof that people with different ideas and beliefs can coexist, and even love, if they are mature and have a heart, and know that there are times when it’s best not to talk about it.
I’ve been a registered Independent for decades because there are weaknesses in both parties that produce maniacs. Screaming, name calling, mocking, destruction, and other behaviors of disrespect will not be tolerated. My ears close like a door on a windy day.
My mind weighs the facts given by both sides and is most swayed by a kind, relatable, educated, biblically authentic, and God-honoring position. There are too many who quote the Bible without having actually read it. There are too many who use the Bible as a hammer to pound their personal views instead of offering it as a beacon of truth, righteousness, and discernment to make choices that are honoring to God and all people. I know because I’ve done both at one time or another. The damage and confusion I caused is what made me yearn to know more about the Bible and it’s historical significance, the symbolism, and how it all ties together over thousands of years of cultural differences and political warfare. There really is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Is it even possible to honor all people in our choices here on earth? I wonder because every compromise creates a resentment. Every win creates a loss, and every filling creates a void. I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
For everything there is a season and a time for every activity under heaven: a time to give birth and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to discard; a time to tear apart and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Jesus is the greatest Independent that ever existed. That is, he isn’t swayed by public opinion or popular consensus. His only dependence is on God Almighty. By the power of the Holy Spirit, He sifts through all the muck and bares the raw Truth with the intent to purify, and then He lets the individual with a softened and repentant heart make their own choice.
Our equality is in how God loves each and every one of us and allows us to choose to follow Him or not. He loves ALL of us. It all boils down to us paying that love forward. We all have something to give. Let’s do our part.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for my independence which allows me to choose dependence on You in every season of my life.
I woke up a bit after 3 AM this morning and God blessed me.
Normally when I beat the earliest of birds up from their slumber, I just try to go back to sleep. But this time I picked up my phone and opened Instagram. Instead of scrolling, I saw someone on the “suggestions” whom I know but haven’t spoken with in a while so I checked out her profile.
There on a sparsely used page were a few photos, and the newest one was posted exactly twelve minutes before I woke up in the wee hours of the morning. While it didn’t tell me much, it told me enough, and it soothed a mother’s heart.
It never ceases to amaze me how God works in our lives even when we least expect it. Enjoy the journey.
He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen. Deuteronomy 10:21
Do you remember the last time you felt like your heart was splitting? There is such a paralyzing heaviness you almost feel like you can’t breathe, and if you somehow manage to draw a breath, it is saturated with your tears. It feels like you’re drowning.
How do you get out of that? Do you apply the nearest Bandaid fix, or do you perform major heart surgery complete with a staple, glue, and stitches lock up and hope for the best?
For those who cling to the promises of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to hope for the best because we already have it at our disposal. The best healing is brought by way of prayer, and more than likely, God is going to guide us out of our misery by leading us into the light of love for others.
Recently I suffered a loss. Through circumstances beyond my control, I was put in the position of having to make difficult choices that would affect relationships near and dear to my heart. Those who are believers know all too well the struggle to put God first in our lives while making everyone else happy at the same time. It doesn’t work out that way sometimes. And our hearts break.
While I sat here trying to figure out why and how this could be happening, I finally asked God, “What am I supposed to do with this”? “Can’t I be happy for just a little bit? My battle weary, scarred heart is stretching these old sutures to the limit. Please pull me through this and teach me what You want me to know”.
I haven’t felt so alone in a very long time.
UPDATE 2/24/2021: I’m looking around and find this draft that I wrote several weeks ago but have very little recollection of writing it. I do remember the pain. I have news. My friend and Savior, Jesus Christ, took my hand and led me out of that darkness and into the light of reason, reality, hope, and love. No, it’s not all better, but I am eternally grateful for God’s patience, peace, and unconditional love. God’s love never fails.