Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Goodbyes


I'm not so great at goodbyes.  And I am not very fond of them.  I have had plenty of practice.  I said at least six goodbyes as we moved from houses, friends, and neighbors by the time I reached Junior High. I think it may have been easier being the one leaving. Now I am on the other end as the one staying.  Staying on this side of heaven.  Staying in my city.  Staying at our church.  So many goodbyes.  

I wonder if I could be better at this?  I don't think I'll ever like them. Maybe I can think a little more like Winnie the Pooh though.  Ponder how grateful I am to have someone that makes saying goodbye so difficult. The answer for sure is not isolation, to run from ever having to say goodbye again. Though the thought has crossed my mind.

There has to be an antidote to the sadness of saying goodbye. I wonder if Pooh bear actually was right?  Maybe being thankful will take the sting away. I am beyond grateful that I had my mom for so many years, thankful that she created fond memories with my kids.  Thankful for her legacy and her prayers.  I am so glad to have worshiped and served with many military families at our church.  Thankful for their insights in bible studies and sweet conversations. How wonderful my life has been because of these fleeting friends.

I took a pause in this blog.  I started this yesterday and decided to walk away and  pray.  I asked God what was going on in my heart.  Have you ever felt something and didn't quite understand what was going on? What God was showing you?

This morning I woke up and I think God is showing me something about regret.  When someone leaves, we can start playing the regret game.  You know the one.  It's not a very fun game.  All the "if only"'s are drawn from the deck of regrets.  One of my life goals is to live life without regrets.  Pretty sure that is not possible! God definitely is growing me in this area as I desire to please Him above all others.  And that is a life without regrets.

So I am working on a new game. When I have to say goodbye, I will have two decks (not literal, who has time for that, virtual if you will...)  One deck will be thankful cards: I will consider all the ways I can be thankful for that person or family.  And the other deck (that I may actually make...) God's Word: Scriptures that set my eyes on Jesus, not the "if only"'s. My regrets are the enemy's way of distracting me from pressing on and going towards my goal of living a life pleasing God, one without regret.

So back to goodbyes.  Can we say goodbye without feeling any regret? (I should have taken more pictures, I should have spent more time, If only I had....) I really just don't know.  I do know that we can choose what thoughts to entertain. Forgetting what lies behind (those things that entangle us - like regrets), and strain forward to what lies ahead (gratitude, good memories, all we have in God Himself). As we say goodbye let's fill our hearts with thankfulness.  The more we can pour in, the more the regrets get pushed out.  And maybe the sting won't be so deep. Goodbyes are here to stay until Jesus returns, I guess we'd better figure out how to do them well.

Here are some verses we can add to our new way of saying goodbye:

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (notice it says give thanks "in" all circumstances, not "for" all...hmmmmm)

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Psalm 34:4-5 I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.

Friday, May 6, 2016

To my retreat girls (part B)....

So this is the inside of my refrigerator.  I opened it up this morning and found my vitamins. (Yes, they are gummy.  No, you may not make any comments about the fact that I justify eating candy in the form of vitamins every morning, we all have our weaknesses!)

I had taken them about 30 minutes earlier and I have NO idea how they wound up in my fridge.  I have never put them there before.  Didn't I just say at the retreat how easily we are distracted?  I even said, "Do any of you ever put your phone in the fridge and try to plug in your milk?"

I was wondering why in the world I did this and then I realized I was distracted (and didn't even know it).  I asked the Lord why I was so "worried and bothered". He gently reminded me about yesterday.  I shared with you that I had a burden that I took to the feet of Jesus. Apparently I forgot to leave it there.  I had picked it back up, threw it over my shoulder, and marched on with my day.  Somehow to my surprise it was weighing me down this morning.

I went back to the Lord and gave it to Him again...with tears, this time lots more tears. Why do we so desperately want our own way?  I have some pretty great ideas and it baffles me that the Lord doesn't use them. (please hear the sarcasm!) In His gentle way He asked me how in the world He can make this beautiful if I keep taking it back from Him.  So I find myself back at His feet, giving Him this unmet expectation.  This unrealized dream.  I do believe I told you all that Drawing Near is not easy.  And now I am living it.  Please tell me you struggle too.  Somehow this is easier knowing we are not alone.

I love the truth that God gave us: Drawing Near is an invitation and lifelong pursuit.  It is not something to check off our to do list.  It is about humility and obedience and worship. It is about a relationship with the One who has all we need.  Who is all we need. So I will try this again and see how tomorrow goes.  His mercies are new every morning...good thing, I need them every day!

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever.  Amen
Romans 11:36


Thursday, May 5, 2016

To my retreat girls...

My shelf of remembrance...
Last weekend the Lord saw fit to have me share His story at our annual Women's Retreat. It was my great joy to take on the "role" as retreat speaker.  Those of you that were there know why "role" is in quotation marks!

I so loved being able to share truth, the Truth. I have no regrets, God was faithful and answered every one of my prayers. However, I feel as if there is more to say.  I am thinking about saying it in the form of letters to you.  Oh, if you were not at the retreat, you can listen in also.  I do have to admit though, these girls stole my heart. They are beautiful, broken, sweet women that desire to Draw Near to the only One worthy of our affection.  I am buoyed by their faith and this weekend will always be a fond memory of mine.

Several of you shared that you could relate to Mary. Remember, we heard that one sister was named Martha and the other called Mary. And Mary means "bitter".  There was something that happened in Mary's life that caused others to call her bitter.  I want you to remember too though that she did not stay bitter and I think it was because she stayed at the feet of Jesus.  The Lord filled her as she drew near and she was able to worship Him for who He really was.  He changed her.

I came home from the retreat with an expectation that was unmet.  I shed a few tears today (not due to menopause - yet...but because He is tenderizing my heart). I think He shed a few tears with me as He comforted me.  I placed this burden at His feet and am trusting Him to do something beautiful.  I am able to worship, even in my disappointment because I can trust Him. And I think this is one way to guard against bitterness. Worship. One definition of worship is "adoring reverence".  This requires love and trust.  Do you love the Lord?  Do you trust Him?

Some of you feel bitterness is leaking out of your lives and not Jesus. Could it be that He is asking you to trust Him in the midst of your circumstances?  Could it be that by faith you will worship Him, give Him His rightful place in your life?  Remember the pitcher that I held up high, representing Him?  If He is not lifted high, how can He pour all that we need into us?  Please allow Him to complete the work He began in you at the retreat. Come just as you are. Stay at His feet and let worship replace any bitterness that is still leaking out.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.  Hebrews 11:6