Monday, February 28, 2011

God is good....

Forgive me for dwelling on this theme, but the post is just as much for me as for someone who may wander this way.

God is so good.
God is so good.
God is so good.
He's so good to me.

It's a chorus I've sung many times. Do I believe it? I mean really truly when I'm in the nitty gritty stuff of life?

Yesterday I was thinking more about the goodness of God. You see I had to. Two things this weekend recalled the question of the goodness of God. Two things that if I focused on them, could steal my joy and lead me to believe a lie.

At our church's winter carnival event there was a woman visiting with a beautiful baby belly. You know the perfect bump. I asked when she was due and she replied, "April."

Now that we don't have any bundles to be expecting, April the due date for our first loss, seems like a bigger deal to me than it had been. I could have been sporting a baby belly like that. But I'm not.

I kind of ignored the whisperings that day. The ones that said, "God is good, huh? Then why?"

The whisperings got louder on Sunday as I sat in church I heard little sounds that only a newborn could make. I was able to rejoice with my church family in the safe arrival of a new addition to the family. This little one and his family have had many challenges, and I truly do rejoice with them. But I won't deny there were tears in my eyes during worship when the question returned to my heart. "God is good? Then why are you empty?"

I started to think about this. Is losing a baby good? Not necessarily if you just look at the events. But can good happen from this? Yes, thanks to my one and only God. It's not the event that labels God good. God is good, regardless of the event. I can choose to look at life through events and label God, or I can choose to look at life through God and label events.

So, God is good. I choose to believe that today. What will you choose?

Choosing to see the blessings:

85. Discovering new beautiful places to explore close to home
86. Daddy time for a little boy
87. Being surrounded by good friends
88. Laughter and games with a friend
89. White snow, green pine, and deep blue sky
90. Musical crunch of snow underfoot
91. Group of various ages and experiences gather round table in study of God's Word
92. Jesus being the Prince of Peace when the world is not peaceful
93. Safe travel on snowy roads and in the clouds
94. Little Man sounding out text for the first time B- A- T!
95. Lessons learned and grace in the midst
96. A boy with a heart full of wanting to help
97. Sounds of newborn at church
98. Knowing God is good even when an event is not

Thursday, February 17, 2011

God, Goodness, and Psalm 103 - Part 1

I've been reading Psalm 103 often these days. It's kind of like the path I keep going back to when I feel lost. The path that leads me back to truth and realigns life so I am not so lost.

It's easy to get lost. It's easy to hear the words of the world around us, to feel the barb of circumstances, and then to forget what the truth is. The lostness seems to come when I begin to give in to the questions. Is God really good? I've been reminded in a book I am reading that this is the same question that Satan asked of Eve in the beginning. If he isn't giving you what you desire, is God really good? I don't want to fall to the same sin of my flesh's mother, so when I get lost in the question and it's sister question "Can you really trust God?" I find my way to the path of Psalm 103.

In the beginning of the Psalm there are directions. Directions that if I follow will start to clear away the clouds and point me in the right direction.
I particularly like the wording of the NLT:

"Praise the LORD, I tell myself; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me. " Psalm 103:1-2

Sometimes to find the path, I have to tell myself to praise God. I have to praise him with my whole heart. I need to stop and count the good things he does. They are there. Even in the darkest of times, they are there. So, I stop. I notice. I count. The Psalmist started to count:
"who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." Psalm 103:3-5

God forgives my sins. He gives mercy and grace.
He heals my diseases. My soul diseases, like leprosy of the heart, blindness of the soul, and lameness of the body. He heals my sin sick being.
He redeems my life. I was in a pit like the wearer of the multi-colored robe. I was left to die. But He paid for me. He lifted me up.
He crowned me with love and compassion. He saved me for His glory, but I wasn't just a notch on his belt or a conquest; He called me beloved.
He gives generously. He satisfies my desires.

Yes. That's true. Do I desire to be loved? Do I desire to belong? Do I desire to be free? Do I desire to know? Do I desire peace? Do I desire purpose? To all of these He's given abundantly. Like all the trees in the garden, he's produced an abundance for me to taste and enjoy. Who am I to pout and say, "But I want....(the thing He hasn't given)? Who am I to question? Praise and count. It's the first steps on the path back to truth.

"The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:6-12

God reveals himself to His children. What do we find when He shows us who He is through his deeds? When my heart is wounded, I want to point to my bruises and my scratches. I want to focus on how He didn't come through. But then I'd also have to be honest. What do I mean He didn't come through? Isn't it really that He didn't do things the way I thought they should be done? Why does this blind me from all the good He does? Like the children of Isael I need to remember. I need to count the mana, the water from the rock, and sandals that don't wear out. And when I count, what do I find? Yes, the Lord is full of compassion, grace, patience and love. He doesn't treat me as I deserve. He doesn't pay me what I have earned. His love is measureless when we fear Him. We are forgiven by what He does. And when I count, I return to the right path.

What brings you back to the right path today?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

God, Goodness and Psalm 103- Part 2

Last week I shared that Psalm 103 has been my GPS so to speak. It's the Psalm that keeps pointing the way back to peace and joy with Him. Join me as we continue to look at the remaining ten verses of this Psalm.

"As a father has compassion on his children,so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children— with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts." Psalm 103:13-18

As I shared earlier I tend to get lost when I listen to the father of lies instead of my Heavenly Father. It's amazing how quickly I can end up in a ditch and think that somehow it's God's fault that I'm here. That He's just not really a good Daddy. The light of truth burns bright in this Psalm. Just like earthly father's have compassion on their children, God has compassion on those who fear him. God feels the hurts of those who honor Him. He knows the weaknesses of those who hold him in awe. He knows we are but dust, that the glory of our lives is fleeting. He knows that what hurts me seems gigantic in the scale of my life. It's me who needs to be reminded. I need the reminder of what comes next- God's love is with me forever. As He is eternal, so is the love He gives me. His being and essence of righteousness remains the same. And with the reminder of His position, I see another step to take me back to the path. I am to obey and Him and walk in His covenant. I am to do what I know He says and leave the questions to Him. If they are to be answered, they will be. I am to trust and obey.

"The LORD has established his throne in heaven,and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the LORD, you his angels,you mighty ones who do his bidding,who obey his word. Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the LORD, my soul." Psalm 103:13-22

This is the one I am called on to trust and obey: The one whose throne is in heaven. The one who rules over all. The one who speaks and angels rush to do his bidding. The one that heavenly hosts serve. The one whose dominion has no boundaries. Yes, if He can rule all of this. If all of these obey and do as He ways without question, shouldn't I? When I am lost in the questions and begin to wonder who is God? Is He good? Can I trust Him? It's then that these words bring me back to the path and keep me walking with Him.

May your walk today be filled with the joy of His presence as you trust and obey.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

On a day when the world around us celebrates love,
should we,
the ones who know Love,
who have experienced the redeeming Love,
who are called to love,
should we not take time to count the ways He loves us.

And oh how He loves us!

Counting God's Love Gifts for Me:

71. An evening to laugh and talk with ladies at church

72. A warm bowl of black eyed peas (a dish my husband greatly enjoys)

73. Snowshoing with family just after a fresh snow

74. A weary body after good day's work

75. Fllicking a switch and having lights go on

76. Son asking, "So what do you love about today?"

77. A friend who knows you

78. Being able to choose even what kind of toilet paper we use

79. Little man sandwiched on couch between two friends of mine who choose to love us with the nearness

80. Hot coffee waiting for me in the morning

81. Being blessed with physical health so that I can clean things

82. My husband's kiss

83. Little Man wrapping his arms around my neck to hug me during worship time at church

Monday, February 7, 2011

By the Numbers

Sometimes counting blessings takes discipline. Sometimes it takes stopping to really look and take things in. Sometimes counting blessings is easy and the blessing come swooshing over you like a wave of love or a blizzard that blankets all in sight.

Whatever the situation, I'm going to count by the numbers and praise my God.

This week's numbers- #57-70

57. Spontaneous hugs and kisses from Little Man

58. Music and books making room time a fun time

59. Three year old ways- Little House on the Prairie being called Little House and the Fairy

60. Candles glowing on dark winter nights

61. Words that strike the heart and bring light like a match struck in the darkness

62. A steamy bowl of oatmeal on a snowy winter morn

63. Snow covering houses like icing and dusting trees like powdered sugar

64. Sun shining through skylights and brightening rooms after a storm

65. Searching God's Word for truth and finding precious pearls

66. The serenity of a boy taking an afternoon nap

67. A boy and a father taking an afternoon nap (on a different day from #66) and the hush of the house at this time

68. A family of "mice" under the blanket in the "mouse house"- and giggles of a three year old delighting in Mom and Dad playing along

69. Young women seeking to follow God in a world that threatens to trip them up, load them down, or hush the desire in their hearts

70. Simple joys in a church nursery as hands explore and play, hugs are given, and stories read

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Gleanings from A Graceful Waiting

Jan Frank compares waiting to the process of harvesting wheat. (A farmer's daughter reading a book with a farming image...good combination.) Forgive me as I process and learn by sharing things from this book over several posts. I hope you will also find some kernals of truth in what is shared.

Although I'd never personally threshed wheat, the analogy made a lot of sense to one who was at least familar with rubbing the dried wheat or rye stalks in my hand to get a taste of the kernals as I walked by a field. Harvesting wheat involves several steps in order to get to the clean kernals that can be processed into something more useable like flour. First the stalks must be cut and threshed, then they must be winnowed, and finally the grain is collected.

Threshing isn't a calm process. It involves seperating the grain from the head by basically beating it. It's a rough process. The grain gets knocked around and around so that it loosens from the chaff or junk that surrounds the kernal we want to harvest. It's a great association in my mind, becuase waiting usually makes me feel quite beat up in side, like I'm going to pieces in the process.

When the threshing is complete the kernal of grain is revealed, but it's also mixed in with a lot of debris. That's where winnowing fits in. The pile of good and not so good stuff is tossed into the air where breezes can carry away the lighter garbage and the wholesome kernals fall to the ground. Hasn't waiting also felt like lots of upheaval with emotions going this way and that? When all the chaff is finally blown away, the golden heart of the grain waits to be gathered.

So, like threshing and winnowing, waiting has a purpse in our lives. And God's threshing floor is filled with purpose. It's funny though how my heart is always filled with questions when I'm lying on the threshing floor and waiting. How silent God seems to those questions.

"What is God trying to teach me?"

"What does He want me to do?"

"Why is this happening to me?"

"How can I do this?"

"I know what God's said, I know who He is, but can I really trust Him?"

"Will this hurt? Will I be okay in the end?"

"What am I going to look like on the other side of this?"

That's how I respond to waiting. I start asking questions. And I was sure this asking of questions was not a part of godly waiting. I mean if I was waiting with faith, I wouldn't have doubt or fear or questions, would I? But is that really true? Often heros of the Bible asked questions when God was silent. It's what they did after they asked the's the surrendering to God and trusting Him that made them heros. Somehow, that's comforting. I can wait and ask questions. I just can't stop there though.

"Questioning is commincation and demonstrates a pursuit of knowledge and understanding. When we take our questions to God we are asking to know Him better."
Jan Frank

So, one thing I've gleaned from this book so far, is that the process of waiting can be filled with questions, as LONG as the questions draw us to know Him better. My prayer is that our waiting periods will bring a rich harvest of knowing our God for who He is and not who we think He is.