Tag Archives: faith

2017, A Great Year

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“Faith don’t come in a bushel basket, Missy. It come one step at a time. Decide to trust Him for one little thing today, and before you know it, you find out He’s so trustworthy you be putting your whole life in His hands.” Lynn Austin, Candle in the Darkness

The day before our son received a cancer diagnosis in late February, he wrote a rare post on Facebook, “New job, new city, and bringing a new life into our family … 2017 is shaping up to be a great year!”

He’d texted me earlier that month to say the year was off to a great start because Clemson University, his alma mater, brought home the 2016 National Championship.

At the end of last year, I overheard him telling his dad about 2017 being great since he and his wife had several promising things in the works.

My stomach tightened each time I heard “great,” and not because I didn’t think 2017 held a lot of possibility, but because sometimes we don’t perceive great in the same way God perceives it.

Almost a decade later, I still remember my “great” year that brought me to my knees. I wrote about it here, “The year was 2008 …

Great typically requires footwork, and a lot of it. It means change and not always the kind we want. Coming into greatness often means walking through trials and feeling emotions we hadn’t factored in when we did our planning.

Great means being in relationship with God, in relationship with others, and living our purpose.

I had doubts about whether our family had worked out matters of the heart enough to usher in greatness. Like in Romans 2:29, the verse says “heart matters” are the heart of the matter for God. Since I didn’t think we’d gotten that far yet, I questioned what it’d take to make it happen.

What would “great” cost us?

I was bothered enough to mention my son’s text in February’s blog post, “It’s Always Something.” Even though I trusted what I wrote, I still felt uneasy about the messiness I mentioned, “My son’s right, 2017 will be great even with its messy moments because it is always something, and sometimes it’s something beautiful.”

For one minute, I wished I had not prayed long and hard for us, asking for realness and restoration and godly relationships minus the things that sometimes come alongside like devastation and humiliation. I’ve held my breath while we have skirted those last two.

Just before our son’s biopsy confirmed stage 1 cancer, not the result we hoped for, he and his wife, who is pregnant with their first child, had a baby scare. Thankfully those test results turned out well.

Less than a week after my husband John and I returned home following our son’s surgery, John’s 87-year-old dad took a fall, hit his head on a brick stair, and was rushed into surgery. Doctors did all they could over the next fourteen days, but last week we said goodbye to Pop Pop. He died the day before Easter.

In light of reassuring calls and messages, friendship, and signs that life was happening as intended, my stomach calmed down and so did my spirit.

Historic Great Cross at St. Augustine, Florida at sunrise

 

I didn’t have to wonder anymore. I was witnessing the price of greatness.

While John listened to his dad’s surgeon talk to the family in the Neuro-ICU waiting room, he leaned close and whispered, “Is this what great looks like?”

I believe it is, and we notice it most during times like these.

Great is recognizing our dependence on God.

Great is cherishing others’ demonstration of God’s love.

Great is acknowledging God’s goodness when we have to let go of things we want to control and keep.

Finally, great is learning the lessons God teaches by way of suffering, grief, and letting go because He calls us to the emotional journey before He allows us to take the action journey.

In other words, He prepares us for the great things (great according to Him) that He’s put in front of us to do.

How great is your year? It’s not so much about our surroundings as it is about coming around to Him.

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks, Pixabay, for photos of the Great Wall of China and the historic Great Cross in St. Augustine, Florida.

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God Is Bigger Than the Bible

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"God is bigger than people think." Jimmy Dean

“God is bigger than people think.” Jimmy Dean

I sat waiting for friends when I couldn’t help overhearing a gentleman at a nearby table. He dominated the conversation by quoting Bible scriptures, then elaborated on their meanings. The woman and man who accompanied him tried to join in, but mostly sounded like they were trying to impress or at least keep up.

That was my take on their interaction, probably skewed by young adulthood memories around my parent’s kitchen table. Cousins excused themselves after they ate, my sister-in-law and husband found couches for a nap, but I hung in there, trying hard to impress my dad. The problem was, I couldn’t quote scripture like my brother. Still can’t.

It wasn’t until I gave up trying to hold my own in their conversations that I realized reading scripture, although important in my daily life, isn’t typically where I meet God.

Instead, I spent hours with him while listening to Rascal Flatt’s song, I’m Movin’ On. When my husband corrected me from singing “I never dreamed one would end up where I don’t belong” (I know, it makes no sense) to “I never dreamed home would end up where I don’t belong,” I was able to leave an emotionally unsafe situation.

There was also the time I walked on the beach for miles and talked with God until I got an answer about how to handle a situation with my mom. God responded out of the blue, not the black and white print.

Another time, I dreamed I walked out of a courtroom where I had explained my life for years and still didn’t feel understood. I closed the tall wooden doors behind me, then sat with my back against them, relieved I never had to go back in. When I awoke, I knew I had my answer to a longstanding prayer.

I could go on and on naming times I’ve encountered God outside the Bible, but still I’ve hesitated to believe these hold the same value as the scripture I can’t quote. That was, until God gave me another message out of the blue. This one, I could remember.

He’s bigger than the Bible.

When have you been tempted to underestimate an experience because you couldn’t explain it or back it up with facts? God inspired scripture, but he’s not limited by it.

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Remember all the times the Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the laws? Well, there are still Pharisees and Jesus still breaks the laws.

Faith, Hope and Love

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“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

At our mountain house, we have three words (well, four if you count “and”) spray-painted on an old screen window. It hangs as decoration over our living room couch.

When we pull into the driveway at night, even before lights are turned on, the screen is the first thing I notice. The reflection from the streetlight keeps the message lit like a beacon.

Lots of times I wonder about each word, think about which I’d choose if I could only pick one.

Being a visual learner, the symbols are also especially meaningful.

Faith   +       [cross]

Hope  o–)    [anchor]

Love   ♥        [heart]

If you could only choose one, which is most important in your life?

Write wHere I’m supposed to be – I smiled big the first time it occurred to me the chapter and verse for faith, hope and love. It is our lucky number, 13:13. I don’t just play with words. I’m pretty crazy about numbers too.

It’s Wagnanimous: Naps are Necessary

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“Grammy, wanna take a nap?”
Tanner

“You’re getting sleepy. Very, very sleepy.”

At least I think that’s what Tanner’s saying when he looks at me with those big brown eyes.

Especially this afternoon. Rain splashes against the windows and chimes swing in the breeze just loud enough to hear them through our screen door. Inside, the house is quiet except a humming refrigerator and our yawns.

Tanner’s right. I am sleepy.

When our daughter’s 70-pound chocolate lab mix snuggles into his sleeping bag, even in the heat of summer, he makes me want to curl up beside him. He makes sleep look heavenly.

It’s probably because he knows how to prepare himself. Tanner has a ritual.

It goes something like this.

He paces around the room a few times, then stretches his front paws as far forward as they’ll reach while wagging his tail in the air. Then he pushes in the opposite direction and stretches out his back legs and drags them a little, just to work out any tension. At least, that what I figure he’s doing. He yawns big enough to swallow a person. When he straightens up, he’s ready to get into his sleeping bag. If no one helps, he walks over within inches of your face and stares. He’s tall enough to make eye contact so it works.

I guess you’ve guessed Tanner is serious about his naps.

And I get it after reading napping articles and tips from Sara Mednick. She’s a sleep researcher at the University of California, San Deigo, and she’s written a book, Take a Nap! Change Your Life.

That’s a huge claim, but likely valid. Nappers are in good company with the likes of Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, and George W. Bush. I’m starting to agree with Susan, Tanner, and my husband (a huge nap enthusiast), naps are necessary.

Do you take naps or skip them? If you nap, do you hunker down for the afternoon or take a 30-minute power nap?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Even after reading numerous stories about naps, submitting my own article to be published, being encouraged by my siesta-taking friends, and listening to my husband preach the benefits of 40 winks, there’s nothing quite as convincing as a dog’s sleepy eyes. Hope you’re convinced too.

On the side: I posted this under the category of Faith after writer and friend Lori Roeleveld commented, “I think sleep is an act of faith. It’s our way of saying ‘You run the world, Lord. Me, I’ve got limits.’”