Unshakeable

 

 

A firm place

For stubbing toe and

A soft place

To lay head…

Bewitched paradoxed ground with

Reeds not bowed by wind.

*

*

Sharing with Jennifer at #TellHisStory and Lyli at Thought-Provoking Thursday
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When Doing Good Means Receiving the Good

“You will need to be on bed rest,” the doctor said.

Actually, the news was better than I thought it would be. I was anticipating  several months of bed rest in the hospital– so several months of bed rest at home because of complications while expecting child number three actually sounded like a piece of cake in comparison to a hospital room. Not fun by any means, but better.

Bed. Rest.

How does one manage life with a 5-year-old, a 2-year-old, and an upcoming house move, with this kind of mandate?

The answer: One does not do it by herself.

She allows others to step in and do what she cannot do.

During those months on bed rest, I had to allow others to come into my messy closets and my messy life. You can learn a lot by looking into a person’s closet. They had to pack. Unpack. Move. Feed. Drive. Some ladies came in and set up my kitchen in the house we moved into. The dishes are still in the same place. (I don’t know how, but they just seemed to know where to put them.)

Sometimes, the “doing of good” is done to you. And you have no way to repay that kind of good.

You know, I like that kind of doing good. It feels good to be the one doing it. And it is a blessing to the one who receives it.

Their job to do good was helping out someone else in a small way.

My job to do good at that time was to fulfill the doctor’s orders to rest, and receive the good that was being done unto me. I remember thinking, “God must want my eyes focused on Him above, not straight ahead, because that is literally where I’ll be staring for a long time: at the ceiling.”

Sometimes doing good means accepting that you need the good to be done unto you. In a culture that celebrates self-made successes and independence, this is not an easy lesson for many of us. But it is an important one. We will find ourselves on both sides at various times in our lives: the doing of good and the receiving of it.

And, the reward of the bed rest? It came several months later, with the gift of a healthy child.

***

Sharing with The High Calling: Create Good linkup. 

TheHighCalling.org Christian Blog Network

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Empty Husks

I place the dried corn husks on the table. Turns out the husks actually work well in lieu of paper plates. It was fellowship night for our small group women’s Bible study, and we did not have paper plates.

Empty Corn Husks

Empty Corn Husks

 

When the story begins, we find out she is moving. The land is dry. The lack of rain and lack of harvest result in little food to eat. So they move– she and her husband their two sons.

They move to another place, somewhat different from their own, leaving behind all that is familiar: their home, their family, and their God.

In this new place, people act differently. They look different, and worship different gods.

This family comes from a place of empty husks, where there was little food.
They move to a place with food, but that is spiritually empty. 
They trade one kind of empty husk for another.

Her family stays in this new land. Her sons grow up and they marry wives from this new place. All seems well.

But then, tragedy strikes.

Her husband dies. Her sons die. She is left alone, with her two daughters-in-law, in this land, away from her home. She feels like an empty husk– like the empty barren land from which she came.

But she heard that the Lord had visited her own homeland by giving them bread to eat. The famine was over. Maybe it was time to return home. The God she worships has not forgotten her land.

On the way home, she tells her daughters-in-law not to follow her. She tells them to go back. They weep bitterly; they do not wish to leave Naomi. The younger women tell their mother-in-law they will not turn back. But she implores them again to stay in Moab.

Finally, one daughter-in-law does turn back. She returns to her people in Moab.

But one daughter-in-law stays with her, and they return to Judah together. Upon returning, Naomi weeps and laments with her people. She left Judah with a full house, but during a time of famine. Now, she returns empty-handed, but at the beginning of the barley harvest. She returns like an empty husk– but not completely….

Ruth is with her. 

And, it is the beginning of the barley harvest.

As the story unfolds, we see that Ruth “happens” upon the fields of Boaz, where she picks up the grains left behind. We observe Boaz show compassion and kindness toward Ruth.

Not long after, Boaz marries Ruth and they have a child*. Ruth places the child in Naomi’s arms- and Naomi’s husk is no longer empty. Her arms are full again. The God she worships has not forgotten her.

Do you ever feel like Naomi? Like an empty husk?  Are there parts of your life that resemble a husk more than a flowering or fruitful vine? Do you feel God has forgotten you?

We fill our “husk plates” with food and bread… trusting in His promises for more than we can imagine, trusting He has not forgotten us or our “empty husks”.

Would you like to join in, too? Place an empty husk (or plate) on the table, and in faith, pray, and trust God to fill the empty husks in your life.

*Footnote to this story: The name of Boaz and Ruth’s son was Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse, and Jesse had a son named David. Jesus comes through this family line. What a testimony of God’s grace and mercy, what grace to Naomi and Ruth. Beautiful!

 ***

This post is submitted for #TellHisStory Thought-Provoking Thursday Spiritual Sundays and Faith-Filled Friday.
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Designed to Work: The Making of Bread and Tea

Making Flatbread in Nani’s Kitchen

Her hands form dough, which she rolls into flatbread. She makes tea, every single day, with a sprinkle of cardamom or fennel.

That was not always the case. Once, a very long time ago, she was a teacher. And a writer. Once, many years ago, she won an award from a BBC writing contest.

But life’s circumstances brought a move across an ocean, to another continent. She had a one-year-old holding her hand while getting off the plane. One month later, another infant was born.

My mother did not speak English when she walked off that plane, holding my hand. She came to a country not knowing the language, knowing no one, completely dropping into a new culture and lifestyle.

She learned English by watching “I Love Lucy” on television in a small, sparsely furnished apartment in New Jersey. But, she did learn. I am not sure at what point one becomes assimilated into a culture, but at some point that also did happen.

If we must define ourselves by our work, then we are all left to an arbitrary definition of “work”, and the risk of a warped sense of worth.

All work is work, after all.
Work is valuable.
Work is honorable.
Work is meant to be.
Work is honest.
Work is dignity.
Work is good.

God meant us to work, whether it be pulling weeds, or pulling teeth, or pulling out tangles from a daughter’s long hair, as my mother used to do for me.

Learning a new language and a new culture took work. Learning to cook with different ingredients took work. Learning to survive in a new culture took work. Learning how to raise children in a new country took work.

She did not stop working.  Her work simply changed. She did not return to teaching, although she did volunteer in school occasionally. She continues her writing, though it remains unpublished and unseen.

Who can say any of this is a less useful destiny than that of a CEO, or that of a teacher, or that of a doctor?

Some of us may continue in a particular type of work for most of our lives. For others of us, the work we do may change and vary. Our destiny to work, however, does not change. We all have that in common.

We find part of God’s purpose for us through that work. We worship Him through our work. We glorify Him through our work. He expands His kingdom through the work we humbly offer, as paltry as it may seem if assessed among worldly standards.

Rolling out flatbread is unlikely to win accolades from the world. Neither is making tea, or combing a child’s hair.

But it is honorable work. It is a destiny. And it is good.

***

Sharing with the The High Calling’s community linkup for “Share Your Story: Designed to Work” series. 

Also sharing with Jennifer Dukes Lee for the #TellHisStory linkup.

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The Lesson of Second Place

Second place.

In high school, I finished second in my graduating class. And while that may seem like an accomplishment, and I was indeed proud of it– still, it was second place. Not first.

In college, I auditioned to be an emcee for a special show. I encouraged my roommate to also audition, who felt insecure. Guess what? She got the part! I was happy for her- she did a fantastic job.

But I felt also that I had failed.

God used those circumstances, and similar ones afterward, to draw me closer to him.

What was he teaching me? That failures more often define our character than success. That coming second (or third, or fourth, or last) has just as much value as being first. That new hope and new life come through the difficult tunnel of hardship and failure.

After all, God reminded me that he chose a man with a stutter to be his spokesperson (Moses.). He chose a childless couple to be the father of a new nation (Abraham and Sarah), and blessed them with a child in their old age. God chose a barren woman (Hannah) to have a child (Samuel), who became a prophet, and anointed David as King. He chose Rahab, a prostitute, through which the lineage of Christ would come. Rahab’s son was Boaz, Boaz married Ruth, (a Moabite woman), and their son Jesse would be the father of David (who was crowned King). Wow. What a story!

Consistently, the Lord used the least of these. And consistently, it is through trials and hardship that I see and experience attributes of God I might not otherwise have known.

Would I know His comfort if I had never any need of it?
Would I know His grace if I had never any need of it?
Would I know His mercy if I had never any need of it?

And that which gives me need are the harder experiences of life.

In fact, the Lord used the humblest of means to bring his message of hope and grace to the world– through an infant born in a humble manger. Jesus’ life was simple, not fancy and full of worldly success. From the beginning, the message is that there is more to life than succeeding, winning, being first, or being the best.

So that is where the pursuit leads– to the message that truth and fulfillment cannot be found in the temporal circumstances in our world, but in the arms of Grace.

Jesus was not first. He chose to be the last.
Being last, in fact, resembles his likeness more than being first, the best, or winsome, or handsome or beautiful. What characterized his life was this: forgetting himself and putting himself last to pursue the higher calling of the One who called him.

Being second, or third, or last… it has significance and meaning. It means I am in the same place as Jesus, as his co-heir, as an adopted son… a beautiful place to be.

***

Sharing with The High Calling’s community linkup on finding new life.
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Midnight Prayer

Midnight Prayer

It is not simply
For evening breeze,

Dark pond, lustrous inky
Sky, hum of crickets,

Cool grass, evensong
Of creatures, that she

Emerges. It is the lure
Of soul awakening,

Nudging, prodding,
Drawing her into depths

Visible only at night. She
Roams moon-soaked fields,

Slips in the swirling river,
As if caught in a ghost

Story of a tragic lost love.
Awakened from death

She finds herself
Where she started–

On bloody knees, halfway
Between dusk and dawn.

***
{the power of prayer}
{soul awakening from death}
***

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Nothing on Earth

Path_in_Fall_With_Verse

If it were not for the promise he gave to make all things new, she would see no hope. In all the wanderings of her heart, she kept this promise near.

When her mistakes brought her to her knees, and she hung her head in shame, he made her heart new, taking the pain upon himself, so he could grant her a second chance. Or a third.

When others had left and forsaken her, when she found herself alone, she remembered: he was there. With each calling of her soul, he was listening. And he put a new song in her heart, a new song of hope.

When the days seemed to cycle like a never-ending train, he’d give her something new to look forward to: a new sunset, a new flower, a new smile from a stranger.

His love never grew old. It was like a fresh sunrise. His pursuit of her was relentless, abiding, ceaseless. He never grew tired or weary. Nothing new shocked or surprised him or made him run away.  She could count on him; he possessed a trustworthiness, a dependability that was as steady as the seasons he himself had ordained. Nothing on earth could compare.

Love never grew old for him… and it was always new for her.

***

Posting this for Five Minute Friday ; this week the writing prompt is “New”. Click the link to read more or to add your own.

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