Archives for May 2012

Waiting Rewarded


Several weeks ago I did battle with myself in the purse department at Macy’s. No blood was shed, but the struggle was intense.

I mentally debated the pros and cons of purchasing my perfect find and modeled it in a mirror at least a dozen times, but in the end, I put it back on the shelf. It wasn’t on sale. And there was no way I could bring myself to purchase it at full price. Talk about frustration.

For the past couple of months, I’d been on a quest—one I also undertook last year—to find a black and white purse to carry during the spring and summer months. Since black coordinates well with most of my wardrobe, I wanted to keep that color, but I also wanted something to lighten up my look—something that looked more summery. White would do the trick.

Not only was I on the hunt for that particular color combination, but size was a factor as well. Physically, I can’t carry big purses, but I also don’t want anything too small. On top of that, I need a purse with at least a two sections and some pockets for organization. I’m afraid I’d lose what little mind I have left if I had to rifle through one big abyss every time I needed to find my lipstick.

So, when I spotted the answer to my prayers perched attractively on that Macy’s shelf, I almost broke out into a victory dance. But before jumping into full celebration mode, I decided to check the price tag. Oh, my goodness. All I can say is good grief, dang, and why me?

Even though it was disheartening to have to walk away, I would have been even more miserable if I’d overspent in a moment of shopping desperation. Showing restraint was the right call. I’d just have to hope the purse would still be there and go on sale during one of my subsequent trips to the city.

Fast forward a month. My friend Teri had given me a great coupon for Macy’s so into the store I marched with coupon in hand, hoping against hope that my dream purse would be on sale, sitting on the shelf waiting for me to clutch it to my bosom in sweet relief. And you know what? My dreams came true! Not only was the purse nearly 50% off, the clerk allowed me to use the coupon as well. Score!!

I believe more that luck was involved, though. I think God had a hand in my good fortune that day. Not only does he care about the things that concern us, but he loves to bless us—just like we love to bless our kids. He rewarded my patience and self-restraint and provided for me at just the right time. Hmmm . . . that somehow sounds familiar.

Yes, he’s taught me that lesson now a time or two . . . or maybe ten. I hope I remember it next time I do battle in a Macy’s aisle. More than that, I hope I remember it day in and day out, as I make decisions either to rush ahead or wait on God.

So what do you say? Next time we find ourselves in a battle with ourselves, let’s show restraint. Let’s practice patience. Let’s trust God to provide for us at just the right time.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

*How has the Lord rewarded a time of waiting in your life?

*By popular demand, I’ve added a link to a photo of the purse :)

*Flickr photo at top of post by kelsey_lovefusionphoto

A Weekend for Remembering

*An encore presentation of a previous Memorial Weekend post.

Since like so many of you, I’ve been out of town celebrating this holiday weekend with my family, I thought I would post a little something I already had on hand. In keeping with Memorial Day and remembering our loved ones who are no longer with us, here is a poem I wrote several years ago in memory of my grandparents, Charlie and Marjorie Barnes.

Hope this inspires some pleasant memories of your own. Enjoy — and Happy Memorial Day!

Downtown with Grandpa and Grandma

When Grandpa and Grandma came to town
Fun followed right on schedule,
They’d leave their worries
Back on the farm
To make memories for us
We’d never forget.
Just going downtown together turned into
An adventure every time.
The dime stores held treasures
We never tired of looking at,
And sipping sodas at the fountain there
Was a dream
They always made come true.
Grandpa couldn’t pass the candy counter
Without getting his peanut clusters,
And, of course, he’d slip one
To each of us, too.
We’d check the parking meter
To see if we had time to sit for awhile
Just to watch the people go by.
We could always count on someone
To make us turn our heads and snicker
Or even laugh till our faces hurt.
What a day it was
When Grandpa and Grandma came to town!

“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works…” Psalm 143:5a

*What’s one of your favorite memories of your grandparents?

Flickr photo by jimg944

Prayer: Helping Them Stand

“. . . he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:10-11

All I can do is pray. If you’re like me, you’ve thought or spoken those words at some point in your life. We forget that we are indeed helping when we pray for others. We forget how vital prayer is.

The apostle Paul wrote the words above after suffering extreme hardship and pressure so great that he described it as “far beyond our ability to endure” (2 Cor. 1:8). He said he despaired even of life and actually felt in his heart the sentence of death.

I wonder where he would have been without the “prayers of many?” Could the help he received through those prayers be the reason he was able to rely on God’s strength instead of his own?

John Wesley said, “Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer; support the tottering knees.” I’m reminded of Moses when the Israelites battled the Amalekites. As long as he held up the staff of God in his hands, the Israelites won. When he lowered his hands, the enemy began winning. When Moses grew tired, “Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.” (Exodus 17:12b)

Do we know people whose hands are hanging down, whose knees are now tottering? Is it obvious that without help they’ll surely fall? You may feel powerless to change their situation or help in any significant way, but don’t underestimate the support you can give them through your prayers. I’ve felt the support of prayers before, and it’s powerful. I felt as if I were being carried.

Are there some we know who need to be carried right now by our prayers? Let’s be faithful to do it. It may be our very prayers that enable them to stand another day.

“I urge you brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” Romans 15:30

*Have you ever felt carried by the prayers of others before?

*Flickr photo by Irina Gheorghita, Creative Commons License

Adjusting Our Vision: Battling Dissatisfaction

It happens almost every time. Returning home after a few days away stirs up mixed emotions in me. Like most folks, I’m happy to get back to my own comfort zone, but I also struggle with some unwanted feelings. Feelings of dissatisfaction.

Here’s the problem (and I’m probably not the only one who experiences it): Many times when I go out of town, I get to enjoy nature’s beauty in more spectacular ways. Of course, this occurs during vacations, but I also sometimes experience it while visiting family for a few days.

Not long ago I spent some time in Arkansas with my oldest daughter Kristin while her husband was away on business. Their backyard is landscaped with flowers and several beautiful bushes and trees and is surrounded by a privacy fence. It feels like a garden oasis. Add the music and the beauty of the birds, and my heart sings as well. I experience the same soul satisfaction while soaking up the woodland beauty found at my parents’ home in Missouri.

When I return to my own home, it’s easy for me to focus on the things I don’t have. I don’t have a garden oasis or the beauty of the woodlands right outside my back door—and I miss them during those first few days back home. I long to experience that kind of beauty each day right here in my own surroundings.

The first morning back after my trip to Kristin’s, that old familiar ache surfaced again as I spent a few minutes outside. Within seconds, something else surfaced as well.

Dissatisfaction. Thoughts like why can’t we live somewhere beautiful, too . . .

The Lord immediately pricked my heart with a reminder that dissatisfaction is dangerous business. At his prompting, I adjusted my vision and rejoiced in the beauty I do have.

And what do I have? I have the sky. I may not have a private oasis or the magic of the woodlands outside my door, but since we have no trees in our front yard, I have the sky’s expanse to rejoice in each morning. Without trees to obstruct the view, it’s so easy to look up and imagine heaven and talk with the Lord, the Creator of all beauty. After all, he is where my real satisfaction lies.

Of course, I noticed the birds, the colors of spring, and other things, too, after my vision adjustment. I realize it’s only natural to relish the beauty of other places, but I need to remember to focus on the beauty right before me. As I do that, dissatisfaction has a harder time getting a foothold.

I wonder if any of us are struggling with dissatisfaction in other areas of our lives. Could focusing on and rejoicing in the beauty and blessings we do have make a difference in those areas as well? I think so. Let’s guard against the dangerous business of dissatisfaction. Let’s adjust our vision before it has a chance to do its damage.

“. . . be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5b

*How do you guard against dissatisfaction in your life?

*Flickr photo by seyed mostafa zamani

On the Basis of Love

“. . . I appeal to you on the basis of love.” Philemon 9a

Have you ever been asked to do something that the world might call crazy or naïve? Many times as believers we are called to do just that.

The words of appeal above come from a letter the apostle Paul wrote to his dear friend and fellow worker Philemon. Philemon’s slave Onesimus had apparently stolen from him or wronged him in some way and then run away. After that, Onesimus met Paul and became a Christian and was then ready to return to Philemon and make things right between them.

This is where Paul came in. He acted as an agent of reconciliation, appealing to Philemon to welcome Onesimus back as if he were welcoming Paul himself (read the book of Philemon for the entire beautiful story told in just twenty-five verses).

In other words, Paul said, if you love me, forgive and welcome him. More than that, the implication here is also an appeal to act out of love for Christ—to extend the love that Christ himself would extend.

I wonder if there are any situations in our lives right now where the Lord might be saying, “I appeal to you on the basis of love . . .” Has someone wronged us or someone we love? Or maybe a person noted for bad or even criminal behavior has recently come to know Christ. Many times our first reaction is to say, “Yeah, sure.”

But what would the Lord have us do? I think his message to us would be the same as the one Paul sent to Philemon so many years ago—if you love me, forgive and welcome him.

How can we do any less than offer forgiveness when the Lord has extended unconditional love and forgiveness to each of us? Let’s do what he wants us to do. And let’s do it on the basis of love.

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

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*Flickr photo by Pink Sherbet Photography