It is gardening season. Or should I say weeding, digging, pulling, watering, mowing, planting and sweating season. My plot of dirt had become a haven for dandelions, henbit (who named it that?), clover, and a myriad of other green unwanted things. As I was digging and muttering under my breath I was reminded of the tenacity of sin – my sin. Some of the weed’s roots lay on the surface easy to pull up but a slight touch would send its seeds cascading into the dirt around. Other roots buried deep into the soil ensuring that something would be left behind to covertly creep back months later. Sure, I could spray the dirt with a vengeance, hacking at the soil with glee. But I would only spread weedy carnage and poison the ground. So instead I hunch under the sun, back burning, sweat dripping and think about my sin and God.
God makes things new. I have a ton of dandelions growing in my yard as well as my dirt plot. I don’t like to spray because I want to preserve the bees. So I decided to look for other things to do with the tenacious yet happy blooms popping up by the millions. I discovered that dandelions have multiple purposes. To my neighbors, they serve as enemies to be annihilated. To others, they are food/beverage items. For me, I realized I could turn them into a salve that moisturizes and relieves pain. I had found a new purpose for the dandelions.
God makes things new. He renews me. He takes a look at my weedy heart and meticulously addresses each one. He nurtures the ground, adding compost and fertilizers. God doesn’t look at me and say “She is too over grown, I’m going to start elsewhere.” Nor does He say “Yikes, that didn’t work. Time to make a new Bethany”. Wouldn’t it be easier to give up and move on? Throw some pesticide on it and call it good? Thank God that He doesn’t go with ‘easy’; He goes with ‘love’. Romans 8:28 says: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose (KJV). Like the dandelions, God finds a new purpose for my sin transforming it into patience, wisdom, understanding, joy, peace, hope.God makes us new. And in doing so, we become equipped to “work together for good to them that love God”. Already this month, Heritage has been honored to sing at a memorial service, encourage residents during a Sunday service in Salem, and prepare a group of wonderful women in Powell Butte to be “filled up” by the Lord. Heritage thanks all of you for your prayers, your contributions, and your willingness to be made new – a testament of God’s love.
What are you thankful for?
It seems a simple enough question. There are many things to be thankful for. I mean, I'm thankful to be alive and for my family and for food and for clothes and for air...but after a while the things that come seem to have little or no life to them. At times I feel like a child repeating from memory - "Dear God, thank you for this food. Thank you for this day." A few seconds later, I am stuffing my face with food, thankfulness being washed down with a couple gulps of water.
But now, now I am 35. 32 years of turkey and ham and being asked "What are YOU thankful for?" 32 years of pilgrims and Indians, pumpkins and cornucopias. And yet I still stumble over this simple question of 'thanks'. Sure, my responses are more mature -dripping with wisdom and righteousness- but is there heart?
When was the last time you answered this question with intention? With purpose? No glib responses. Something that requires thought. Why should New Years be the only time for resolutions? This thanksgiving I resolve to be thankful with intention. Intentionally thankful. So let me leave you with my dose of intention this season: I am so thankful that even with all my crap, God finds me worth loving, worth being with, worth staying for. Amen.
What are you thankful for?
As a Valentine's Day treat, we had decided to surprise our family with a night made up of five rather than two. It was an evening made for memories. But after the festivities and laughter, the darkness settles in and I can't help but notice all the lives we pass on the road. Windows lit up at night provide small glimpses into other people's lives and the darkness seems to magnify the solidarity of each life.
Right now someone is being loved, someone is going hungry, someone is feeling forgotten, a life is becoming lost. There is an immense sadness that fills me even as I relish the love that my family has showered on me. The sadness is this - what I glimpse is just a grain on the shores of what our heavenly Father sees. And yet we continue on, oblivious, that much more lost, that much more consumed by these fleeting moments.
If I could just stop in this moment and consider the greatest Valentine's Day gift...not chocolate or flowers, not a well worded card or dinner out....could not Jesus' death answer this question? "For God so loved the world"...we know the rest, right? "That He gave His one and only Son"...What greater display of love could be given or received?
So as I get closer to home surrounded by the love of my family, I will consider and treasure the best realization I could ever have..."that whoever believes in Him should not perish".*
So, from God to you and me, Happy Valentine's Day!
Yep, it's true! God is in the details. You could say it all started one Friday night...the last Friday of September. And though this sounds ominous it's really quite thrilling. You see, a woman was typing away that night spurred on by love for a brother who desperately wanted to be at his mother's funeral. Unbeknownst to him, she asked for drivers on their way to Idaho to keep an eye out for her brother who would be trying to hitch his way across Oregon into Idaho. And to seal the deal she simply stated, "please tell him that his sister, J___, loves him".
What are the odds? What are the odds that my husband would be looking at rideshares after getting out of the hospital? What are the odds that he would share this ad with his wife and say "If you happen to see him, maybe you could give him a ride?" Of the several routes into Idaho, what are the odds that our van would take the road that would zoom us past a man holding a cardboard sign that stated "Nampa" at the exact moment in which I finished telling the other girls about this crazy ad about a guy trying to get to Idaho? Because if you couldn't guess already, we did! BTW, his name is Perry (like the platypus he said). And as you are thinking what are the ODDS!?! I can tell you that it's actually, What a GREAT GOD!.
He made it. Perry made it to where he needed to be, we made it to where we needed to be, and God is in the details. AMEN! If we wanted (and we could) our story could have started farther back to when we were supposed to be in Idaho. But God is not all about the should-a, would-a, could-a's. He is all about weaving our lives together for His glorious purpose. I use to be told "don't sweat the small stuff" but this encounter with God from the back seat has only solidified just how much God loves the details. He loves the big picture, but I truly believe that He shines the most through the intricate details of my life!
I am encouraged by the display of God's love through His details for my life. Be blessed!