A Few of My Favorite Things

  • God and all that goes with Him
  • Time Spent With Family
  • Bedtime Prayers
  • Family/Group Hugs
  • The Beach
  • Good Friends
  • Good Music
  • Laughter

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Looking Back to Look Forward

I am constantly amazed at how our Heavenly Father works by using the people who come into our lives for a season but remain in our hearts for a lifetime. We see this easily in our family members, but what about those people who are just a part of our lives for a very specific period of time or maybe those who become a part of our forever families because of the bonds forged in the fires of pain or the joys of this life.

Ecc. 3:11 He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.

I see God's hand at work in my life from early moments of childhood to even now as a middle-aged woman. There were bible class teachers and teachers at school who made huge impacts on a very young life helping to shape and mold the opinions and beliefs that I hold tightly to today. The teacher who with patience showed me over and over again how to tie my shoes when I just couldn't seem to get my fingers to work. She helped instill the we don't give up but try and try again. The teacher who washed the skinned knees and calmed a very frightened little who was being chased by a dog and then delivered me safely home to the arms of my sweet Mama. Oh, how big a part they played in who I am today. They helped shape the desire to teach and even when the dyslexia made reading so hard they found things to make me feel like I could conqueror the world.

Deut. 6:4-9-“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Then there are the countless friends from elementary schools scattered across three states and from one side of town to another. Girl Scout leaders who helped a very shy little girl find her voice behind a puppet stage. The mamas of those friends who took the time to make me feel a part of their family as well as my own, began the process of teaching me that family doesn't have to be blood related to be family.

There were also people that taught me what I didn't want to be and that kindness is golden. Some of the lessons were learned from adults and some classmates. There was the teacher who didn't show patience and said ugly things to my “at-risk reading group”. The one who rather than encouraging discouraged me from being willing to work hard to accomplish a goal. Those were important lessons to learn. It was the friend's dad down the road who spoke ugly to my sister and then thought I would want to stay and play. Well maybe I could have handled that one better, but he helped me learn loyalty and how to fight for someone you love even when it's scary. I learned that words once said can't be taken back and though you may forgive there are some things you just never forget.

Prov. 17:9 He who conceals a transgression seeks love,
But he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.

It's the friends from camp, youth devos, and sleepovers that taught me the value of open and honest sharing of the heart. It was talking long into the night till you fell asleep, getting up early to get the hot shower and a place to plug in your curling iron. It was the process of learning that sometimes someone can be really nice to your face, yet they will rake you over the coals when your back is turned. It was those friends who stood up for you even when they didn't agree with everything you believed and protected your innocence and learning not everything is black and white. I learned I could love people but not like their actions. It was the space to learn to stand up for my beliefs even while shaking because I didn't want to be different yet God calls us to be different.

Prov. 18:24 A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

2 Cor. 3:4-6 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

It's the blessing of older women showing me how to love my husband. It was precious souls who when Mama wasn't there to talk to (remember this was before cell phones and even us not having a telephone because groceries were more important). There were couples who took a very young set of newlyweds under their wing and provided friendship and encouragement to keep doing good. It was precious souls who taught hard lessons on life in a beautiful life and a quiet bold voice. It was sweet folks who taught a young bride how to cook without a cookbook and how to be the wife God expected, not by what they said but by having me in their home and living it in front of me. It was sweet mamas who shared their littles with a young woman who very much wanted to be a mama, and taught me how to discipline and love all at the same time. How precious those ladies are and were!

Titus 2:3-5 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

It was bringing into my life people who dealt with chronic illness and pain, yet lived beautiful lives of service to their families and the church. It was by being asked to ride and just be company to doctor's appointments and just being there in the house through the rough spots. It was sweet families who took care of a sick and scared you young school teacher and showed me how church family loves each other even when the only connection we have is the blood of Christ.

Rom. 8: 14-17 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

It was listening to words spoken to my Mama and my Aunt when they lost their babies that taught me what to say and what not to say. It was watching church family care for us that taught me how to care for others. It's the people God sends to preach His word in actions and love. It's knowing that people can make grief bearable or unbearable with just the smallest slip of the tongue or act of kindness.

Prov. 15:4 A soothing tongue is a tree of life,
But perversion in it crushes the spirit.

I've been blessed with friends who when they came into my life the first time the connection didn't form, but that when God brought them back into my life later they have become family and encouragers. There are people who I may not see often, but when I do they make my heart lighter just by the sound of their voice or the words that appear on my computer screen. They help me see a glimpse of heaven here on earth with their love.

2Cor.13:5-10 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test. Now we pray to God that you do no wrong; not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. For we rejoice when we ourselves are weak but you are strong; this we also pray for, that you be made complete. For this reason I am writing these things while absent, so that when present I need not use severity, in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave me for building up and not for tearing down.

God sent children for me to love all through my childhood and early adulthood. I learned quickly that love comes with high expectations, and real love demands good behavior and consequences when they're not met. He sent me sweet children who were hurting and wanted direction. He taught me that my heart could grow and stretch and hurt with the pain that wasn't my own. He sent me opportunities to love those who weren't “loveable” and reap the reward of them knowing I loved them and God loved them. I learned our world can be full of ugliness and pain, but that through LOVE we see God and grace and redemption. Yes, children taught me that lesson.

Matt. 19:13-14 Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

He used those who made comments that wounded a heart longing for babies, so I could learn how not to hurt others. He sent people I could watch from a distance and learn from on how to comfort someone who had lost a baby. Those have been so important. He sent friends who are adult adoptees who have willingly shared their story, and now I have some idea on what to expect as my sweet boy grows up with questions and longing and grief and joy all mixed together. He has stretched my heart and made room to understand that loving birth-parents doesn't mean not loving me.

James 1:26-27 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

It is amazing how a word spoken at just the right time in the past can continue to influence who I am today. It's people who took the time to ask a young couple about their dreams for their family and the church that helped create this middle aged couple standing on the edge of dreams answered or about to be answered. It's realizing that all along the way God has used us in just the same way with others, and being humbled at the thought. May God continue to send us people who touch us and allow us to touch them; so that, we can see God in every aspect of our life.

Jer. 29: 11-13For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

James 1:15-18 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

It is with the hope of the eternal that allows us to see beyond the past and the present moment to the eternal future with Him. May He bless us all, and may we see the opportunities to be His hands and feet.

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