Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Lovely Change of Plan

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."  Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

I was halfway down the street before I realized it.

When I set out on my morning walk, it was with plans to take that extra lap...the one that goes uphill...and get it accomplished, and wrap it up with the final stretch being more level, easier part of the walk.

So I forged ahead.  At first I was wishing that I had my listen to some praise music (or Scotty McCreery...yes, he's made me a country fan)...or a sermon.  But that wasn't a part of the plan.  So I moved right in to some sweet prayer time.  I thanked God for many things, one being the beauty of the day...and asked Him to guide my steps through show me His plans...and help me to follow them.  I was so busy talking that it caught me off guard when I was on the "home stretch" and hadn't circled back for that uphill lap.  As I made my way back up that street, I understood why.

God had answered my prayer.

The rest of my walk was in the company of one of His saints...a precious, tiny Chinese woman.  She's the grandmother of one of my (Chinese) daughter's friends.  I know that she has had some health problems...and she looks so frail.  So I slowed my pace.  We enjoyed a lovely conversation...with talk of China...her husband's ministry here...(He's retired, but working hard to further the kingdom.)...the cultural differences in ministry and in family life...our daughter's adoption...and the joy of the Lord.

The pace was slower, but that little fireball took me on three more uphill laps.  Funny, I was concerned about her, and said, "Do we need to stop now?"  She told me, "No, we go one more, then you can go home."  I loved it.

Precious.  I pray that in some way that time was a blessing to her.  I know it was to me.

Oh I want to be mindful to allow Him to determine my steps...and not be caught up in plans of my own.  When I pray for Him to guide me, I want to pray it believing that He will do it...and watch expectantly for His way to be revealed.

Proverbs 16:3 says, "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans."

LORD, help me to do just that...commit...believe...and follow.  We know that You are the One from whom all blessings flow.  Thank You for Your plans.  We know that they are to prosper us and not to harm us and to give us hope for the future.  (Jer.29:11)  Thank you, Lord.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Committing to the Uphill Climb

"He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength...they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."  Isaiah 40:29-31 (NIV)

I did not give any credibility to the prophesy that the rapture was going to happen on May 21.  However, I must say that I was disappointed that Jesus didn't return.  I have to confess to the longing for that trumpet sound and for Him to "step out on a cloud to call His children," as one of my favorite songs says.  But He didn't.  And we're still here.

As I took my walk this morning, I was faced with the decision to return home or to go an extra lap.  That would incur another uphill climb.  I decided to press on.  Before I knew it, I was past the incline and heading downhill...surrounded by lovely, cool breezes and the smell of gardenias.  There was also the satisfaction that I made a little more progress toward my goal, and that I found strength that I didn't know I had.

Sometimes when I look at the "hills" in life, I really just want to go heavenly home.  And as I look around me, so many are not just facing hills, but giant mountains.  Tornados that rip through homes, businesses, hospitals...stealing lives literally and figuratively.  Three young dads at my daughter's school are facing cancer.  A friend's one year old baby girl is fighting for her life after a diagnosis of a neuroblastoma.  Families are broken...children struggling through things that a child should never have to deal with. 

Heaven will bring healing...hearts mended...eternity in the presence of Jesus.

But not yet.

So let's get ready for the climb.  Let's press on until He comes.

Listen to a few more lines from Isaiah 40.
"Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom."  We must trust the One who knows all...the One who created...the everlasting One...the One who provides our strength...the One who is pursuing us and who desires to make us one with Him until the day of His return.

I think He would say, "Keep climbing.  I'm coming!"  And then I think we'll realize the accomplishment of our endurance...and feel the eternal cool breezes and smell the aroma of heaven.

Lord, we can't do this life alone.  We need You.  And You planned it that way.  Your plan is perfect.  Help us to trust in Your way.  Strengthen us.  Guide us.  We long for You.  We love You. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dwellin' on the Good

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."  Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

I'm just wondering today where your thoughts are dwellin'.  Are you feeling pretty positive, cruising along, enjoying the ride?  Or have circumstances got you a little bogged down, with negative thoughts rallying to cloud your view?  I think we've all spent time on both sides of that highway.

The roads of our lives stretch before us...and behind...yielding themselves to mountains and valleys, twists and turns, miles of straight and narrow, speed limits that creep or propel us with rocket force... lulling us into complacency or totally threatening to undo us.

Situations, like those orange and white barrels on the road, can guide us surely to our destination or shock us with evidence of a barricade or detour. 

So what's peering through your "windshield"...or looming off in the distance?  What thoughts pop up as you view the sights? 

How are things going in your home?  How's your marriage?  What's going on with your children...their school...their teacher?  What about your job situation or your spouse's job...or lack thereof?  How's your church life?  How's your social life?  What's the state of your friendships?  Are you able to balance the demands coming your way?

Sometimes it's easy to get drift down a road of defeat.  Let's pray first for God to show us His Way...and assure us with His plan.  Then let's choose to dwell on the good...citing the words in Philippians 4:8 (above)...and focus our thinking. 

Let's dwell on the good.

Lord, our paths are often trying.  We grow weary and worn.  Sometimes our thoughts spiral downwards, causing us to be negative and critical.  Help us to keep our minds on things above...and to focus on You and Your promises.  Help us with our thinkin'...and our dwellin'.  We love You and trust You.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's In A Name?...Everything!

"Jesus said to her, 'Mary."  John 20:16 (NIV)

My husband called my name from the kitchen, "Kristi." 

It almost sounded odd.  Rather than the usual "Honey" or "Baby" or "Baby Cakes" or "Sugar."  (And no, I wasn't even in trouble.)

It occurred to me that I rarely hear my first name. 

My daughters call me "Mom" or "Mommy" or "Mama."  My students and co-workers refer to me as "Mrs. Butler."  I can just hear my best buddies saying, "Hey Friend!" or "Hey Girl!"  When I phone my Mama and Daddy, they usually say, "Hey Baby."

And I like all of those names and terms of endearment. day, my name...and your name is going to be spoken by Jesus.

Can you imagine?  Just close your eyes and think about it.  Jesus.  Speaking your name.

Just the thought makes me want to fall to my knees.  Ah, to be able to cry out, as Mary did, with recognition of His see Him face to face.  Someday.

Jesus, lover of our souls, do You too long for that day when You will speak our name and reach out Your arms to welcome us into Your presence?  We long for You and delight in the reality that You love us personally...individually...unconditionally...perfectly.  We love You...Jesus.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

He's Not Here Either

"Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  We live by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord."  2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NIV)

I went to my Grandy's grave today.

As I walked to his tombstone, I whispered, "We sure do miss you."  With tear-filled eyes, I told him that I love him.

I didn't hear it audibly...just the words in my head..."He's not here."

Because of Jesus.

With Jesus.

I thought back to the butterflies that we released last week at school.  Left behind is a shell...the chrysalis.  The butterfly...the living being...was set free.  Beautiful.  Perfect.  Soaring.

That place that we buried my sweet Grandy's body doesn't really contain him.  He is present with the Lord!  Healthy.  Whole.  Laughing.

He loved to laugh.

And he loved.

Because of Jesus.

Lord, thank You for Your love.  Thank You for the promise of heaven...that we "know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven."  We long to see You...and Grandy.