Category Archives: Common Threads 2016

In this season…

 

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I watch my friend peel back the paper from a straw and insert it into a small cup of lemonade.

She questions how much mayo to put on the sandwich and asks if mustard is needed.

Then she expertly cuts the sandwich in half and opens a bag of chips.

All is prepared and she bows over the meal and blesses it.

Her dad looks up from the hospital bed with grateful eyes and nods his thanks and we leave him to eat in privacy.

We step out into the hall and we just hug because sometimes there are no words and she knows I know and understand.

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I know what it is to bend over and do for your dad what you once did for your kids.

I know what it is like to have the man who used to tower over you physically, emotionally and mentally take your hand and let you lead him down a hall.

I know the strange irony of being the one in charge of the one who once orchestrated your whole world.

It is humbling beyond words.

It cuts deep inside you and changes you raw and tender in a way that doesn’t go away.

Version 2

My family said that as a child, when I felt I was being bossed too much, I would say “I can’t wait til I get big and YOU get little”

In my childish way I thought the tables would turn and I would be able to lord it over the adults and power figures that had ruled me for so many years.

Some kind of odd twist on reincarnation, I guess

But time softens the heart and can wisen us, if we let it…

and instead of rubbing our grown up, competent hands together and relishing the switcheroo…

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we find out we are ill-equipped for the task.

As we step into a role that no one every really showed us how to do, we must set aside that little girl who needed a hero, put on our big girl pants and serve as a care giver.

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We cut sandwiches and tote laundry that a daughter should never see.

We attend holiday parties with Elvis impersonators and store bought cookies.

We bend low so our loved ones don’t have to look up.

We make trips to the ER and we notify relatives and keep them posted. Then we resettle back at whatever home has become until the next go-round and we do it all again.

We cry countless tears on the way home and we look at our calendars with Plan A, B and Z in mind.

And as believers we hold fast to hope that does not disappoint.

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We thank God a hundred thousand times that His Son cheated death. For ever.

We look to Easter, every day, and with tears of joy we say in faith….

Oh death…where is your sting?

And we really and truly, finally get why that matters so much.

We choose to lift our eyes from what is here in front of us and to see what lies beyond.

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We know we are blessed and we can give testimony to God’s faithfulness through it all.

So here is to the caregivers…

some of you are tending parents

some a spouse or a sibling

and far too many …for even one is too many…

you bend over the hospital bed or wheelchair or walker of a child or grandchild. Or perhaps you provide an added level of care that will not be grown out of at some point.

Here is to your knowing and hearing at the end of each day…

Well done good and faithful servant.

Here is to the blessed gift of tending loved ones in ways you never expected.

Surely you are the hands and feet of Christ.

God bless you and strengthen you, dear ones, today as you…..

journey onward     <3

 

Leaving room in the margins

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Our last teaching in the Common Threads series was on Finances.(firstdecatur.org/sermons)

Pastor Wayne used Scripture to give us God’s perspective on money and wealth and stewardship.

As I looked over my notes this morning, I thought about Ruth.

As in Old Testament…stuck between Judges and 1 Samuel…Moabite widow….great-grandmother of King David…that Ruth…

how when she accompanied her impoverished mother-in-law to Bethlehem, went out to the neighboring fields to glean so that they would not starve.

Gleaning was walking behind the harvesters and picking up any seed they missed.

Gleaning was going to the edges of the field that had been left untouched for just such a purpose.

Gleaning was part of the Jewish law.

….When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your land or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor  shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God….   Leviticus 19:9-10  NIV

Because God’s heart is generous….He calls us to be generous.

I once heard a teaching from a man in our church…who pointed out that God doesn’t set the exact place where the very edges are.

He leaves that up to us.

In the story of Ruth, the field where she gleaned belonged to a man named Boaz.

When he saw Ruth, she stood out. She was most assuredly easy to identify as a stranger.

A Moabite. A foreigner. A widow who was caring for a widow.

And out of generosity, he instructed his harvesters to reap less and leave wider margins for her to glean.

We, too, have a certain amount that is given to us. God invites us to use only the portion we really need and to share the rest with those who do not have enough.

As you ponder how much you are going to leave around the edges of your finances so that  can you give to others, let me also mention that with Valentine’s Day approaching the book of Ruth is one of the most tender love stories ever written.

Instead of shades of gray…it is penned in shades of red…

Redemption Red <3

Some stuff…

It’s Friday…YAY!!!!

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So here are some things to cap off the week…

First…I never did address the sermon from Common Threads.

I have listened to it three times. (@firstdecatur.org/sermons). It’s a good one and it’s on spirituality, but every time I listen all I do is cry and thank God our kids were raised in a church that stands on God’s word and lives what they preach.

So…listen for yourself.

You will be blessed <3

And yes…the “John, that would be Reimer” is ours <3

Second…I spent the day yesterday with…

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and….

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so…you know…

best day ever…

except someone …

didn’t take his nap…

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So while I did some things for his mommy, he bwilded…or builded as you might call it…

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and chatted and explained his creation of a little home for some of his animals…

and then it got kind of exciting because…

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Out of nowhere, he hollered for me to look and see that the whole thing had been surrounded by a pack of animals.

They were planning to attack it, or so he said.

And I thought…how like life.

I totally know how the critters in the little house feel.

Surrounded and out numbered and trapped.

Helpless and hopeless.

I ran some things upstairs and when I came back, things had improved dramatically…

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I truly believe the child will be a preacher some day…because he literally said…

“Look Lola. The animals thought they were going to destroy my house but I pushed them away with my own hands. I used my own hands, Lola, and I made them go away.”

When I am surrounded, I can use my own two hands…to fold in prayer and to raise in praise…to open wide and receive God’s blessings…to grab hold of the hem of His garment…to hold tightly to His Hand of grace, mercy and provision and then…to stretch out and help others…

so are my enemies defeated…IMG_9251

and seen no more…

God bless you this weekend!

You and God, you’ve got this!

Journey Onward in victory!

God wins <3

 

 

Together we are built into a living wall…

Because someone spent waaaaaaaay too much time looking up clips from the Groundhog Day movie to text her kids this morning, I am a bit behind on my day. And if you are curious I ended up selecting the one that strings all the encounters with Ned Ryerson, the insurance salesman into one clip.

Or as the recipients of my group text would say….four minutes and twenty-six seconds of their life they will never get back…

so without further ado…here is a little bit deeper thought (I hope) to share with you if you haven’t traipsed off to YouTube to search a few of your own favorite scenes.

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As I reflect further on the book of Philippians, the reason I have been reading it is because I am listening to a series of teachings from John’s church in Austin…Grace Covenant Bible Church.

Their pastor is doing a series called [Un]Common based on this epistle and he encouraged the congregation to read through the book several times a week.

The theme of the first sermon in the series was that we may not have anything at all in common with other believers except that we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ: but that one thing is the only thing that matters (and I just totally stole that line from his sermon, so credits to him).

I love it when we study God’s word by really camping out in a section of it….

reading it over and over reveals the deeper layers of teaching.

Like digging for treasure, we can’t just skim the surface.

When we focus on a section of Scripture for longer than the length of, oh…say…a Youtube clip…God begins to show us that teaching in other places.

Our eyes are opened to what He is trying to show us as we meditate on His Word.

Thus, I have been thinking a lot about how we are connected to other believers…even if we disagree on some things; the fact that we have received Christ as our Savior AND Lord is a tie that holds us together while we work through any differing opinions.

So this morning, I find this quote from Corrie Ten Boom in my devotions….

Be united with other Christians.

A wall with loose bricks….IMG_7982

is not good.

The bricks must be cemented together. 

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The church is not a perfect place and the people that gather there are not perfect people.

But it is a connecting point where the goal is to meet together in the name of and for the purpose of Jesus Christ.

It’s function is to bring believers into one place on a regular basis to worship and to learn and to grow and to unite in service and fellowship.

It’s the place where we may have nothing in common….2010 09 03_0680

but the one thing that matters.

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And coming to Him as to a living stone who is rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.                         1 Peter 2:4-5    NASB

 

Wake up people….it’s MONDAY <3

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And Monday can be kinda like…

 

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And I don’t have a recap of the sermon from Common Threads because we were on the road this weekend.

Which … speaking of common threads….

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We met up with Sarah and visited dad….and there is nothing sweeter than the ties that bind generations and love that carries over the years and miles.

So today I only have a short exhortation for you gleaned from the past week of several read-throughs of Philippians….

 I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer,  because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  

It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel.  

For God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.  

And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment,  

so that you can approve the things that are superior and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ,  

filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ

to the glory and praise of God.  

Philippians 1: 3-11  HCSB

What a wonderful way to start Monday in prayer for those we love…

As we think on each member of our family…our close friends…those who are on our hearts this morning…

Thank God for that person, first and foremost with every thought of them.

As a wife, mom, mother-in-law, Lola …. aunt, friend, sister and sister-in-law…as a Sunday School teacher and blog writer….as a cousin, daughter-in-law, niece…

so many relationships that cause people to come to my mind each and every day…

with each thought of individuals with whom my life intertwines…

the first thought to be…

thanksgiving as I remember them.

And yes…yes…the joy of our partnership in the gospel fuels those thanks and praise. And the promise that He has begun a good work in each of us and He WILL complete it.

That our partnership in the Gospel is bigger than our human love and affection for one another and that our little pictures are making up His Big Picture.

And where the “partnership in the Gospel” is strained or lacking, prayer believes that God; who has placed His love in me for all these so dear to my heart, is able to continue growing us all …

in knowledge and discernment of Him…

that His Holy Spirit is able to teach each of us…and give us discernment so that …

we will

be refined and renewed and restored…

IN Him…

TO Him…

FOR Him…

and it all starts with ….

me….

giving thanks..

for you …. <3

Heavenly Father God, thank You this morning for those  You have ordained to be so dear in my life. I thank you for each one as I remember them throughout the day. As each one comes to mind, I pray You to pour Your love into me for them. I love with limited vision and, sadly, I love selfishly so often. I want more them than my love…my dreams…my hopes…I want YOUR love for each of them. I pray today that You would give to each of us the gifts of knowledge and discernment through Your Holy Spirit. I pray that we would seek to know You more and yes, Lord, I pray that we would be filled with the fruit…the results…the outcome of righteousness that results from our relationship and connection to Your Son; our Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank You for your grace…your undeserved, unearned favor over us. Thank You for Your mercy…benevolence, forgiveness, and kindness extended to us. May these be the characteristics that mark our thoughts and words and actions today. In Jesus’ most Precious and powerful Name. Amen <3