You can’t disappoint God

It was not a great day for walking, unless fog and clammy fits your mood and you just head out. It was one of those mornings when I put on way too many clothes for this mild January morning and walked out on my usual stroll through the neighborhood then out to the greenbelt alongside our gully.

“Lord, though I don’t SEE you, I know you’re there, ” I said aloud. It was a great morning for just talking to Him out loud. All of a sudden out came my neighbor rolling her trashcan to the street for pickup. “Good morning!” we both sang out to one another. “Will you come in for coffee?” she asked. “Well, I believe I’ll pass this morning. Just out for the morning walk before I run some errands.” She laughed lightly then said, “Well, truth be told, I’m really heading out to work.” She grinned. It was all perfectly fine. I asked her what work she was heading out to this morning, knowing full well she was long into retirement. “My husband is trying to sell his business and it’s not going too well right now.” We talked about it a few minutes before she said, “But you know, our devotional this morning was on hope. We have a “hope rope” to heaven. We don’t need to be weighted down by our circumstances but keep our eyes on Him, our Hope.” I nodded in agreement and smiled. It was exactly what I had thought of saying to her. Keep our hope and eyes on Him and let the circumstances fall where they may. She had talked of his regretting that he had not sold it five years ago. “Shoulda’s are so destructive,” I responded. “That’s the past and there’s nothing we can do about it.” She nodded in agreement.

And then I remembered something I had read earlier this week. “You know, Dear Neighbor,  you really can’t disappoint God. He is not surprised by what we do. After all, He made us and He knows exactly what we’re going to do before we do it!” She smiled as she began to head to the back door. It was getting closer to the time she needed to be off to work – supporting her husband in his business endeavors at this time.

I thought about what I had read in “Altar’d” by Jennifer Kennedy Dean. “You may sometimes have the feeling that God is disappointed in you. “How could He not be disappointed?” you reason. “I let Him down again and again. I promise and then I fail.”

She says, “I don’t believe God is ever disappointed in you. What does it mean to disappoint someone? it means that you have failed to meet that person’s expectations. For you to disappoint God, He would have to think you were going to behave one way, then be surprised when you behave another way. God knows you better than you know yourself. “He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:14. I had thought of this all week, and actually, it became more and more freeing as I realized that yes, God loves me immensely and knows before I take the next breath what I’m thinking or planning or going to do. And still He is with me and will never ever forsake me.

I waved at my neighbor and said a prayer for she and her husband that his business would sell to the right person and that they would be able to move in their retirement, free from the burden of his business.arms outstretched

 

It all started….

Back in early March of this year  Phyllis texted me for some addresses of family she had seen at her mother’s funeral. She needed to respond to them. I went to the Nichols Directory and found most of them. But as I studied the pages and pages of names, I saw many with out of date or no address or phone or even email.

Out of that observation came some time of exploring and investigating that took me first to other family members who might have had some of the missing information on some of their immediate family. One morning I thought – facebook. Why not just type in a name and see what happens? I thought of myself as a private investigator! To my amazement, I found most of the unfamiliar family on facebook! Not having corresponded with many of you in years, I boldly began to message some of you and ask your permission to put your information in the directory. And then, I asked if it was okay to add you to the Nichols Family Group and you said yes! It was as if for some of you, you were just waiting for someone in the family to come looking for you and bring you back to the fold! It was a glorious time of serendipity!

In the middle of all this updating the directory, Diann Dotson said she’d like to come visit Gwen and me in late spring. Fine, I responded. Come anytime. Well, no, she said, how about May 30th? There’s nothing of note going on with our grandchildren. Okay. Then, I thought. Dangerous. Thinking, that is! What if I just throw the invitation out there to you, Family, to invite you to join Diann and Ray and come see us Houston folk on that weekend?

Do you know who responded??? Barbara Lawrence from NORTH CAROLINA! Really? After many years, Barbara packed up and flew down here for what turned out to be a grand Houston Family Reunion! So very good to see you, Barbara!  Who would have thought!!! And it all started back in early March – looking at the directory and thinking where are these cousins? We had about 35 folks attend. And, as the Lord in His Providence would have it, Jane came. We all hugged on her for what turned out to be the last time, as she passed away this summer.

A few short weeks later, Gwen and I made a trip to Atlanta for cousin Jay’s Memorial Service. We invited ourselves over to stay with Yvonne! We traveled down memory lane with her and all her family photos since the invention of the camera! Sure of it! At the Celebration of Jay’s Life Service, we saw many of you and caught up some.

Gwen and I traveled to the Dallas/Fort Worth area this past September to  stay  with Beth and Allen and Christi and to meet some of our cousins who were unable to attend the May Reunion, including Taffy Davis Giesel. What a sweet tender time of catching up. After our time with her and her husband Howard,  Janice, who had joined us for lunch with Taffy and Howard,  took us over to see her Mom, Lillie and we had a wonderful visit. She was thrilled to show us her photo albums she had put together in her early married years. We also enjoyed singing around the piano together.  The following day we were able to meet up with more cousins – Keila and three of their four nearly grown kids, Sophia, Gracie and Jesse. Tony was under the weather that day. So, Gwen and I must go back to see him sometime!Taffy and Cousins

What a great trip Frances and daughter Pam had in September as they  went on a wild and wonderful tour of the Pacific Northwest and made a  special stop to visit Farrel and her family up there in Washington.

The point is, our family is a treasure. There are so many of you with your unique personalities, living all over the country. The thing we have in common is blood. Family. And I believe, a strong willingness to stay connected to one another. To intentionally spend some time together. Even through facebook. But oh so richer in person!

This next year, I plan to see some more of you! Take some trips together. It is my prayer and hope that you all will venture out and see some family you haven’t seen in awhile and say hello and like, Dad (Earl) would do, ask how your own family is doing and how can he pray for you? Well, with your permission may I  follow in his footsteps and  ask…..how may I pray for you?

May you each have a joyous Christmas season, knowing deep down that the motive for Christmas is……God SO loved! You ! He chose You! Looking forward to seeing more of you this next year! God bless you all!

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Change is uncomfortable; but necessary

praying together one Our small group has been meeting together far longer than when my Beloved and I joined. They tell the story of a morning when one of the men was out walking and his neighbor's cat was out? Was lost? Something. The cat was the catalyst for the men's encounter that brought them and their families together for what turned in to seventeen years!
"You and your wife come over and have coffee next Tuesday night," the walker said to the cat owner. They met and discovered they had much in common, including their church home. Let's invite some others. They did. By the time my husband and I came to their church about 5 years ago, the group had grown profoundly into 13 couples.
Over the years, the couples had seen one another through a daughter's brain surgery; parents' illnesses and passing away; rebellious sons; job searching; retirement anxiety and questions; moving away. Through all the issues of life we came together to pray. Our hearts, so knitted together under the banner of our Lord Jesus Christ's profound love, submitted to Him each and every Tuesday evening, knowing deep deep down that He was hearing. He was seeing. He was loving. And He was moving. And oh, how beautiful to watch Him work! It was glorious! To witness the healing of her daughters brain surgery; she, who is now mother of 5! To look around the crowded room of family and life long friends and see 11 completely new friends at my father's memorial service! Friends who had never met my father! Still profoundly moved at their heart and presence! To hear that their 30+ something year old son, who struggled for years to find a job was now not only gainfully employed but praised by his boss! Only God.
Lately, though, it seems that our group has had several move on to other groups within the church. Another couple moved to another town. Logical reason for leaving our group. But several others have moved on for what? Other ministries. And few new folks have come into our group.
Funny. This new season is groaning with questions. Are we still a group? What is God doing? Are we asking God that question or are we just getting irritated that folks are leaving our group? They're all great couples. Salt of the earth. Still very involved in other areas of the Body.
Change. Uncomfortable. Inevitable. Necessary.
Like pruning. When I get the garden clippers I'm quite deadly. As I was clipping the browned rose blooms, I got a bit hasty. Yep. Clipped a bud with two new buds yet to open. Bill noticed and grimaced. Pay attention, he said with his face. Oops. I brought the bud inside and stuck it in the middle of the carnations. It opened beautifully.
change- life is beautiful
What’s next for our group? Prayer. We meet and pray and discuss the question. What does God have for our group who have met for so many years? Personally, if they asked me, since we are in the midst of those retiring years, wouldn’t it be great to see the Lord bring in some young couples to our group to pray with? To encourage. To let them know that through their life issues, our God is with them. Seeing. Hearing. Loving. And yes, moving. And watch what God does to this next generation. For yes, though change is surely uncomfortable, it is so necessary for growth. I don’t really want to “die on the vine.” I want to be nipped and moved so I can bloom somewhere else! For my Lord!
Now, go out with Joy and be led forth in His peace!
change - open arms

Do what you can do

Come ye, who are bruised and wounded, or even bandaged and in need of encouragement and together we’ll bind one another up in order to offer others some hope and grace in their world.

Something to chew on:

She has done what she could…..” Jesus said. The woman just walked into the home of Simon the leper (he had been healed but was still labeled as such) and before anyone else could object, she knelt before Jesus and opened this alabaster vial of costly perfume and pored it on the feet of Jesus! Now. Lest we wonder what in the world she was doing with the perfume in the first place and what business she had doing such a thing on the dirty feet of a man, just look first at his response. Jesus did not rebuke her. Rather, he viewed what she did as a prophecy of what was to come in the not too distant future to him. He was going to be killed and the custom of the day was that before a body was to be entombed it would be anointed with oils and wrapped in clean cloths.
Of course, she had no way of knowing that. The woman’s act was her way of worshiping Jesus. Why? It’s not mentioned in Scripture but it seems that she had been around Him and seen His love for others, witnessed His miracles and heard His mysterious yet profound teaching of hope and love. His teaching was so contrary to the teachings of the leaders of her church that she was compelled to do something to show her love for him. Even if it meant receiving ridicule or scorn.

So, in the doorway she purposefully walked. Right into a room full of common men and right to where Jesus was reclining. Amid the scorn, she went right to the reason she was there. She opened the vial and pored it tenderly over the head of the one she had come to love. “This perfume could have been sold and the money given to feed the poor,” one disciple said. “Let her alone,” Jesus said to them,”Why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. For the poor you have with you always, and whenever you wish, you can do good to them.” Now listen to this, “She has done what she could.”

In our world, all around us, we are bombarded with so many needs. We see homeless on the street corners with their cardboard signs and windblown faces. We hear of orphans needing a home in the ads on TV. We hear of school children going to bed hungry many nights, especially on weekends when they have no school lunch. We know about the lonely widows sitting around in the nursing home waiting to die. We are overwhelmed. Jesus said to the disciples about this woman, she did what she could do. I do know that is all He asks of any of us. To be available to do what we can do with what we have at that moment. Encouraging you to open your eyes and heart to see what Jesus would have you see and with your heart do what you can do. You’ll be blessed as the one you see is also blessed. Go out with Joy and be led forth in His peace.
claypot earthen vessel   The reason I found what Jesus said liberating came in the form of a handout in our Sunday bulletin. In the past at this time of year, I would have taken this handout and pored over it and tried to DO as many things as possible on that list before Christmas day and in my heart I would have thought I was doing the right thing. In my body I would have been stressed and most likely irritable at those I love most and what good would all my “good things” have done?

But this year is now different because I know I can only do what I can do and that whatever it is it must be to honor my Lord and Savior and no one else.

Eyes to see

homeless woman eyes

There she was.
Leaning on her cane, looking directly at me.
“Help me,” she seemed to be saying desperately.
I saw her. Her sunburned face.
Auburn hair in dire need of a shampoo and conditioner.
The traffic light changed. I had to move on.
Down deep in the recesses of my heart she knitted herself to me.
I wanted to reach out to her.
To give her a meal, some shampoo, a bus ticket to a shelter.

Eyes to see,
Leah said to me.
So many folks have no idea
that there are even people standing on the street
begging for a few dollars
so they can eat,
much less seeing some of these are women!

Five dollar gift cards to the local fast food;
New underwear from the Dollar Store;
Toiletries collected from a stay at the hotel
Or from the half-off bin at Target.
A Gideon New Testament.
Some baby wipes and chapstick.
Put them in the gallon zip lock bag.
Take them to the street where Dr. Mosely preaches
On Sunday afternoons.
After the service, we offer a meal and a bag of toiletries.

Prayers. Hugs. A look into their eyes to say,
“I care. I see you. You are real.
You are loved.”
“You have done what you could,” said Jesus,
And that’s enough.

Jesus saw individuals.
Not categories.
He saw the one woman with the issue of blood.
He saw the one Centurion who sought after Him.
He touched the one blind man.
Looking directly into his eyes
And had compassion on him.

Categories are safe.
But inhumane.
Categories keep one from seeing the people
That God wants you to see and touch
And tell them of Him.
Removing the categories requires faith
And risk.
Trust.
And great reward.

See.
See into their eyes.
Feel what they are feeling.
And then they will no longer be a
homeless person with no face or history.
They’ll be someone who needs your care and
Your word from Jesus. “I love you.”
“I died for you.”

Mark 14:1-9