Saturday, March 21, 2020

On keeping calm and trusting God

Yesterday we made the difficult decision to cancel our daughter's bridal shower that was scheduled for next weekend. It was the right thing to do, especially as several of the wedding party work in the medical field and have been in contact with those carrying the virus.

Like you, we have been side-swiped by this virus. My son said yesterday, "We're just not used to bad times." And he's right. We've been able to be in control of our lives for so what we want...when we want...that we haven't had to really exercise the one thing much of the world has come to recognize as vital...


This morning, after a more than restless night's sleep; tossing and turning, tossing and turning, having solved the shower issue but now wondering what to do about upcoming wedding plans, I stood up for more coffee and my attention was grabbed by what was happening outside the living room window...

What moments before had been dead and colorless woods, covered in a fine rain, was now a shining fairyland bathed in sunlight that had broken through the clouds. The dark sky behind it only made the picture more stunning.

God knows I'm a visual learner so I'm taking this as a confirmation of the conclusion I had so agonizingly come to...

We need to have Hope...a Hope that shines in the darkness.

Hope that this virus, and all it has done to our lives, did not take God by surprise...

Hope that He is still on His Throne and in control...

Hope that we can Let-Go-and-Let-God, because none of His promises have ever, ever failed anyone during times of hardship and therefore we can trust Him.

What's the alternative? Hey, I can answer this one! Whine? Complain? Be discouraged? Turn to other gods to give us the fix we need? I have done them all this week, I'm ashamed to say.

Oh, but I have this great excuse I've been using! Want to hear it? I have OCD and it's so difficult to have my world in chaos with things I can't control or put in order.

And it's true. But it's only half the equation. With my eyes on myself the only way is down. God is still God whether I have OCD or any other quirk of human nature. He's bigger than____________. (Fill in the blank) If you can't put your circumstances in the blank, then put in any of the trials and temptations that Daniel, or David, Paul or Jesus faced. That works.

George Mueller said, "The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety."

I'm no great theologian but I'd like to offer the idea that Faith and Hope walk hand in hand.

When we lose faith, we lose hope. And hope deferred makes the heart sick. Heart-sick. That's been me this past week.

But it's time to say, Enough! If nothing else, this time will show us what we have faith in...where we have placed our hopes. And that's a very valuable gift from a God who loves us no matter what.

And it could be a wake-up call on all fronts. I know I need it. Do you?

So, back to the idea of what to do about the wedding. It sounds so simple, but as any of you who have ever helped plan a daughter's wedding know, it's anything but simple! Weddings involve reservations way ahead of time, and lots of down payments on venues and photographers and caterers, etc all willingly offered. But money that could now be lost if decisions aren't made soon to cancel.

We had planned on doing the invitations this week...a sweet time of putting paper form...hopes and dreams for the future...a once-in-a-lifetime Mother/ Daughter thing.

To do or not to do? That has been our heart cry!

But you know what? If all we lose is the money spent on stamps and invitations...stepping out and putting actions to our hopes will be worth it. The worst that can happen is we have to re-order new invitations with new dates  and purchase hundreds more stamps. The best that can happen is our faith will be rewarded.

We have never known what the future holds. Ever. We just have lived like we have.

Now we have an opportunity to start afresh.

I believe with all my heart that all that is going on in our lives will serve us well...not only now, during this difficult time...but for whatever the future holds.

I carry you in my heart and prayers, dear ones. God's got this.

Lord, help me not to be anxious, I know that, whatever I am facing, You are right there with me and have promised to never leave me nor forsake me. Help me to trust You, despite the circumstances that surround me. Lord, when I am tempted to be anxious, help me to speak your promises, to overcome the attacks on my mind with answers from your Word. Let me be quick to respond to wrong thoughts and desires by replacing them with good thoughts.

Thank you, Lord, that You light the way before me. You give clear instructions and keep me firmly on the paths of righteousness. I put my complete trust in You. You are my shield and my refuge. You are my rock and my fortress. You are my hiding place and strong tower. In the midst of the storm, You enlighten me with your understanding and give me peace. I refuse to be anxious about anything. 

From 'Keep Calm and Trust God'
Jake Provance and Keith Provance

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Open our eyes, Lord!

I used to have this appetite for my life, and it's just gone,” Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, “I want to go someplace where I can marvel at something.”

‘Yes!’ my weary spirit screamed, ‘Exactly!’

Turning my eyes from my morning perusal of the iPad screen, I took note of the birds hopping around on the tray feeder outside my living room window. I was especially drawn to one of the Goldfinches, whose feathers ruffled gently in the breeze. 

My first thought was a statement- ‘That would make an amazing picture.’

My second thought was a light-bulb moment- ‘And that’s why I take pictures! My camera helps me focus on what’s important or fascinating or beautiful in that moment!’

Granted any hobby or skill...can take you to an unhealthy place where it becomes all about perfection. And that can be downright frustrating, wanting to get it right and beating myself up when I fall short.

Of course there’s always the tantalizing possibilities that Lightroom and Photoshop dangle in front of you- a Promised Land where no matter how bad your picture is, there’s redemption and the hope of perfection. 

But lately, I’ve been less concerned about getting it right. I’ll probably never achieve acclaim for my photos...except through my gracious family. I’ll probably never win a contest or be on the cover of National Geographic. 

Does that mean I should give up and give in? Sell my camera and equipment on EBay? For sure there have been times when in a fit of disgust over a bad shoot that I seriously contemplated it...times when it seemed I was never going to get the hang of it and what was the use anyway?

And yet, in spite of it all, I am still drawn to photography.

This morning, during my light-bulb-moment watching the birds, I finally understood that I enjoy photography because it causes me to be awake and aware of what’s around me. Have you ever gotten into the car to drive somewhere and you take off and suddenly you’re there and you can’t remember how you got there? That you were oblivious to everything on the way, stuck in auto-pilot mode?

That’s how life can go if we’re not careful! The days and weeks, months and years fly by. Every week we look at each other and say, on Friday, ‘It can’t be garbage day again! Where did another week go?’

Recently, I bought a painting from a woman at JAARS. Her mother-in-law had painted it years ago and she was ready to part with it. It put a smile on my face because it’s a picture of my Happy Place...the place I go to when I need to be refreshed and renewed...Arizona...a place about as opposite the Southeast as is possible! The landscape, the weather, the birds and wildlife all offer me a chance to see with new eyes. Dare I say it’s like going from water to an energy drink?

So, what do we do when we’re just not seeing anymore? When life is monotonous and drab and washed out? When it seems our days are run on auto-pilot and it’s always Friday again?