Mirror, Mirror

I miss the sweetness of a man who loved me just the way I am, warts (and c-section scars) and all!

I know I have the sweetness a Savior who feels that way…He has told me over and over!  In the Bible, He calls me beautiful and His bride.

But sometimes, in my human heart, it is hard to believe that.  I look in my mirror for answers to the inside of me and fail to find them…I find scars instead…and extra pounds…more grey hair…wrinkles.

It didn’t help when recently my almost-date did not pan out (not my fault…totally his readiness-to-date issues).  That “almost” hurts, though, makes me doubt myself, my desirability.

So how do I get back to the truth?  How do I stop believing the negative self-talk, the Liar who is speaking to me oh-so-convincingly in my ear?

It becomes a matter of trust.

I believe that God knows what I need better than I do.  I believe that He will be my Husband and my Best Friend in ways that even Keith could not.  While I cannot physically hug Him, at my darkest points, He sends a physical hug by way of a friend…or a small boy.  Praise Him for that!

But in the daily slogging through this life, I can only trust Him at His word…that He is who He says He is, and loves me like He says He loves me.

An old hymn says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

Did you catch that?  I cannot trust anyone else on this earth like I can trust Christ…not even Keith…and he would definitely fall into the “sweetest frame” category.

So…I will continue to look in the mirror, but will try to see Christ’s covering of blood rather than my failings…be they physical, emotional, or spiritual.  I will try to see me the way He sees me.  I know I will probably fail from time to time…but I know He will not.

It’s like my favorite scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indy needs to take the leap from the lion’s mouth to find the grail.  He realizes that this is the ultimate test of faith, and prepares himself prior to the leap.  It works out for him…and a bridge appears out of nowhere to catch him and take him across to the grail.

My ultimate test of faith came nearly 5 years ago with the words, “Mrs. Wright, I’m afraid he didn’t make it.”

I choose now what I chose on that day.  No matter what, my hope is in the Lord.  He has never let me down…and He never will.  That is my grail.

And, even on the tough days, that knowledge is enough.

I am still confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.  – Psalm 27:13-14

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A Clean House

Yesterday was the big winter cleaning of our house.  You can probably hear my boys groan from there.  They have good reason for groaning.

It is usually a painful day…for a very good reason.

I will never win any housekeeping awards.

I have the best intentions, but…

Life gets in the way.  Homeschooling, my activities, the boys’ activities, sports, travel…many things are more exciting and enjoyable, to our way of thinking, than cleaning the house.

Oh, we fake a good game.

If you have been over, you may not realize just how messy we really are.  There’s a reason for that, too.  We tend to clean the main floor only, and only do cursory cleaning anywhere else.  (By the way, don’t try to go up the stairs to my bedroom without an invitation…I might have to tackle you!)

Aren’t we like that with our faith, too?

We put up a front…pretending we are fine, clean on the inside and out, while really we are stressed and hurting.  We stumble along, ignoring the relief that could be ours in the form of friends who sincerely desire help us…all in the name of appearances.

A different kind of white-washed tomb…but just as deadly, to my way of thinking.

Aren’t we called to be here to share in community?  Do we think all our friends are perfect, with no problems?  Don’t we want to assist them with whatever is going on?  Don’t we get joy from helping them?

Didn’t Jesus accept from others all the time, as an itinerant preacher, even as He gave?

I tell you the truth…one of the best parts of this widow-walk is the closeness that comes from needing others.  I have learned, albeit painfully, that no man (or woman) is an island…nor should they be.

There is a divine dependence that comes from walking this walk…and it truly is a beautiful thing.

There is no way on God’s green earth that I can do all the stuff I need to do on my own.  And in that statement, I am freed from trying…from trying to be perfect, from trying to be all things to all people, from trying to walk alone.

And that’s a truth I need to remember each and every day.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” — John 15:4-5

Black Ice

After a week of rainy, yucky weather when I have not been able to walk, I was excited to see a clear, but cold, sky this morning.  I do so enjoy my morning walk!

I suited up and stepped out the door and started across the street…only to have to catch myself from falling on my can!

Black ice…little patches of it.  Too small to affect cars and school buses, but doing a number on my balance.  They were forcing me to mince along rather than take full strides.  Since much of my walk is along sidewalk-less roads, I turned and headed home, not wanting to wrench a knee or hip with awkward muscle movements…or worse yet, slide under a car.

In short, I got a little scared.  So I headed home to safety.

In this widow-walk that I know so well, there are moments like this, too.

I can be traveling along, taking life as it comes, trusting the Lord and moving forward, when all of a sudden…those unexpected moments come and I am slipping and sliding…in my walk and in my faith.

It is often something totally innocuous that sets me off…a song on the radio, a gesture from one of my kids that is so like their dad, a phrase heard in passing.

Then I have to slow down, take stock of what I do have, make the decision to either continue where I am and what I am doing, or take the high road and exit the situation.

Unlike this morning, I don’t always have the freedom to turn around and walk home, giving up until another day.  I need to press on.  The bills must be paid; the decisions must be made; the children must be disciplined.  But that doesn’t mean I do it alone.

God is with me every step of the way, whether I am striding along or delicately, painstakingly picking my way.  And He always will be.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging. –
Psalm 46:1-3

Up In Flames

Last week, while visiting my folks, my dad and I took a ride in the golf cart.

First, we smelled a funny, plastic-y kind of smell.  “What’s that smell, Dad?”

“Not sure.”  He keeps driving the golf cart, telling me about the houses we are passing.

“The smell is not going away, Dad…”

He keeps driving.

“Daddy, there’s smoke!”

Now he stops the golf cart and we get out.

Dad pulls up the seat…and flames come out!

We send a passer-by to the gate house a few hundred feet away for the fire extinguisher.

By the time this gentleman returns, the cart is fully engulfed in flames, and we run to the gatehouse to have them call the fire department.

The fire department comes to put out the blaze, leaving only a charred pile of plastic and a bit of metal that has to be scraped from the road.

Five minutes…just five minutes…and the golf cart lay in ruins.

How equally quickly my attitude can go up in flames!

I can be sailing along, leaving the future to God, not feeling pressure and stress, holding firmly to God’s hand…when out of the blue…

Flames!  Smoke!  Meltdown!

I have to ask myself…why?

My dad’s fire was caused by a battery issue.  Could the cause of mine be the same?

Did I recharge with my daily dose of Godly encouragement through Bible reading and study?  Have I spent enough time on maintenance, seeking from the Lord what about me needs to change?

In those instances of “fire,” the answer is…probably not.

While I am not sure whether my dad’s golf cart fire could be prevented, I am pretty sure my “fire” could have been.

I resolve to work harder at the PM (preventative maintenance) to avoid the fires…and their consequences of burning me and others.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15

Confessions of a Possible Hoarder

I just felt the need to clean out my makeup case.

Never mind that we have to leave the house in half an hour.

(And if you are reading this post and wondering what possible purpose there is in blogging right now, I am wondering the same thing…but the words came, so here you go.)

As my sister would say, “Go with the urge.”

We grew up in a family whose love language was gifts.

Okay, my mom was probably a hoarder.  My sister is now saying, “No maybe about it.”

Therefore, whenever I feel the need to purge, she is right there with me, encouraging me.

When she purges, she brings it to my house, but that’s a story for another time.

As I sit here scraping years of makeup gunk from the bottom of the storage box I have (for those who know me, you are correct in assuming that the box is rather large–I am not a lipstick chicken!), I wonder at scraping the gunk from my soul.

Do I purge there when I need to?

I just tossed dibs and dabs of my favorite eye makeup of yesteryear.  Do I take stock of where I am in my spiritual walk and throw away the old dibs and dabs of self-doubt that I used to enjoy clinging to?

I threw away the eye liners that were so short they could not even be sharpened again.  Do I toss out pieces of me that are ineffective and not as spiritually sharp as they should be?

I let go of mascara that is so old they no longer make it.  Do I let go of old hurts and habits in favor of new and more soul-pleasing ones?

I hope so.

I hope I can make changes in me that will not leave me with a gunky mess at the bottom of my soul.  I hope I can start fresh and clean, leaving the guilt and pain of the past, the bad habits and sinful ways.

I get a sense of accomplishment and maybe even a little joy when I get cleaning jobs done.  I pray that I feel the same with my eternal cleaning plan–now and always.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!– 2 Corinthians 5:17

Watermelons and Old Sayings

I was just cutting a watermelon in my kitchen.  As I cut the first slice, I snitched a piece.  It was…okay.

Hmm…maybe the next watermelon will be sweeter.  It’s early in the season yet.

But…as I learned as a child…waste not, want not.  So, I kept cutting.

Inevitably (for me, at least…perhaps you have more willpower), I snitched another piece farther into the watermelon.

It was…incredibly sweet!

Remember another old saying…don’t judge a book by its cover?

I was introduced to a friend’s husband recently in this way:  This is Liz.  Remember, she is the one I told you about, the widow who homeschools her four sons?

Now, I’m not poking at this dear friend — love her to pieces!  And all she said is true…that is my reality, and consumes a large part of my waking hours.

But it does not define all of me…

Another old saying…peel an onion, there are a lot of layers.

Who am I down in my core, the part that only God sees?

I guess maybe I see a difference between my reality and what defines me…maybe I am only seeing that difference as I write this post.

I am a child of the King.  I struggle, I fail, I fall, I get up.  But I love God and He loves me, and that is enough.

It does not give me permission to quit, but it does give me grace when I fail.

And that grace is…incredibly sweet!

So I will continue to operate in my reality of widowhood — a reality that is not always sweet but can be just okay; a reality that people see and will define me by whether I am only that or not.

And I will pray for the opportunity to show them the inner me…the me forever touched by grace.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Couples Time

Okay, so I have been incredibly busy.  You may have guessed that by the lack of posts.

Things have been crazy here, and, often, so have my responses.  It seems the volume of our house has changed and everything occurs at a new volume in the last few weeks — and that volume is not softer.  Just so we are clear.

What is the problem?  I have wondered.  What is going on with them, with me?

Then it dawned on me.

I remember being married to Keith and in some seasons I was with him, but not with him.  We were near each other and working toward a common goal, but did not have the time or the energy to just be together.  Too often, due to the busy-ness of life, we had what my sister calls task talk only, and not lover talk (that  intimate talk that was not about the words but about the blending of spirits, the openness between us).  I have to admit, mostly it meant that I dropped my agenda and listened to him instead of just pushing on.

Now, in this life I lead, God is my Husband (and so much more, but that will be for another post).

Unfortunately, I am guilty of the same thing in this relationship — doing mostly good, God-honoring stuff, pushing along to what I see as His goals for me and for the family — but not spending that intimate time with the Lover of my soul.  Oh, sure, I am reading my Bible and doing my Bible study work, but I see that as becoming more like task talk than lover talk.  

I am an overworked mom (can anyone relate?) who spends more time dealing with broken feet and dog throw up and dirty socks and grading papers than I do basking in the love of my Savior!

Revelation made.  Now how to solve.

Cheap quote from The Princess Bride:  “I am waiting for you Vizzini! You told me to go back to the beginning, so I have. This is where I am, and this is where I’ll stay. I will not be moved.” – Inigo Montoya

That really is the answer, though.  Go back to the beginning.  When do I feel closest to God?  When do I listen best to Him?  Probably for me, the answer is in writing and prayer — which often occurs simultaneously.

So, that is the goal.  To be still more to know that He is God, and to rest in His arms, having lover talk with Him whenever, however possible.  It is crucial to my life, as the last few weeks have indicated.

Watch and pray with me that I can find quiet time in Him, and thereby find peace in me.

You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.  Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first.  Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. — Revelation 2:3-5a