From my chair a good 50 yards away I see it – a bright red spot in the middle of the mess of algae along the shore of the lake.
They tell me they don’t put chemicals in the lake anymore, so while the fish are coming back and the lake is actually healthier in many ways, the algae is taking over. A team of college students from Concordia College are here during the summer, pulling out the algae and hauling it away – looks like this end needs a little attention again. Walking closer I see it is a bright red fishing floaty thing -- with apologies to my fishing friends who would know what this is! There it was, a spot of color, even beauty in the middle of the mess. It reminds me of how God shows up in the middle of my messes. When all that I can see is ugly, Grace appears.
One of my dear friends gave me the book, Grace Happens Here by Max Lucado, in which he calls grace unexpected and undeserved I created the above image to help me focus on the truth of GRACE and remind me to watch for it. Maybe GRACE is always unexpected. Lest I start to think I deserve it.
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Proverbs 20:7 (The Message) God-loyal people, living honest lives make it much easier for their children.
Today is the first Father’s day without my dad. I knew this day would come and used to wonder how I'd every survive. The grace in this loss is that I had him for a long time. He was not taken from me early and I am grateful. I remember finding this photo some years ago and thought what a handsome man he was – downright cute. No wonder my mother lost her heart to him! It’s one of my very favorite. Here is is teaching at a Bible camp along the shore of Blue Lake, Alabama. In the early 90’s I was challenged to “bless” my parents while they were living instead of waiting until they were gone and then read something at a funeral service when they could not hear me. Here is the blessing I wrote for my father. From your integrity, I learned to trust you and others. Many are reaching their potential because you believe in them and I am too, because you believe in me. Special treatment from others surprises you. You don’t take advantage of your success and position. That’s why it is so much fun doing things for you. Even when I was a child, you always knew when something was bothering me and took the time to ask. That’s how I have learned to be sensitive of others. You have taught me to enjoy life wherever I am Dixie, Alabama nestled in he beautiful pine forests of South Alabama exploring the back roads of Illinois the Big Sky, the wide open spaces and mountains of Montana the waterfront in Racine, Wisconsin(Ever the optimist, you were positive if we just waited, the weather would clear and the Air Show would begin. The most exciting thing that happened that day was the Coast Guard helicopter that flew by.) Lake Michigan, the crowded streets and the city lights of downtown Chicago You always found places to enjoy, people to meet and fun things to do. You have taught me to laugh I love how you tell a good joke as you laugh hilariously about it. These gifts and many more you have given to me. I love you and thank you for the part you have played in making me the wife, mother, grandmother and friend I am today. In remembering you on this Father’s Day, I am acutely aware of the truth of this paraphrase of Proverbs 20:7 (The Message) God-loyal people, living honest lives make it much easier for their children. Dad, in another week, your “east coast family people” as you called them when you prayed) will remember and celebrate you in another memorial service in Marietta Pennsylvania at Community Bible Church, your “home church.” You’d probably be amazed at all the attention and wonder what all the fuss was about! linking this weekend with: Lisha Epperson and GiveMeGrace Barbie Swihart and The Weekend Brew Jennifer Dukes Lee and Tell His Story
Losing an elderly parent "when it's time" . . . It’s a strange unpredictable mix of feelings It's hard to file these feelings into folders marked Grief Gladness Relief Sadness It's more like the "curious blend" I referenced here on this blog a couple of weeks ago the day after my dad died. Confusing at best, it became more confusing when people with loving intent began to tell me how I was going to feel. It seemed like they knew. After talking about this with my counselor, he gave me invaluable advice, saying, “Carol, you get to have this day's experience." I remind myself of this as I move slowly through my days taking time to be, feeling the feelings, refusing to judge them. So on mornings when all I know is it feels good to eat breakfast together on the patio again, or when I sit in the swing in the evening and the tears come freely, I remind myself, "I get to have this day's experience." And then I think about how God is not only GOOD he also DELIGHTS in me. Zephaniah 3:17 Your GOD is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you. Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love and delight you with his songs. And I am comforted. Oh and the next time I am with one who is grieving the loss of an elderly parent, I think I'll say something like "You'll probably feel a lot of things. Just know, you get to have this day's experience. Every.Day." Linking with Lisha Epperson The Weekend Brew
This morning the reading from Psalms was this passage from Psalm 19 and I remembered the displays of God's greatness I have seen at my lake. And I share them here with Lishsa Epperson and the "Give Me Grace" Community. Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech;
They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. God's way of speaking, burrows into my heart and into my soul always, but especially in these days
Generation after generation
This we will do.
It is up to us now to tell of God’s mighty acts.
LORD, You have given us a rich heritage
Psalm 61:5b Thou hast given us the heritage of those who fear the Lord. Today my dad is in heaven. After being ill just one day, he is gone. He loved his God and he loved preaching. In short - He Loved.The.Ministry. Several years ago he told me: “I have never quite gotten over it that God called me to the ministry.” That he would get to preach God's love and grace and mentor others to love his God was a wonder he never quite understood. But how grateful he was for what he called “the privilege.” Today I remember a writer I discovered a few years and and one of his poems, entitled "I Teeter on the Brink of Endings." The closing lines put into words how this grateful daughter feels today, as one of the recipients of that heritage - and as she transitions from this intense season of caregiving. In silence, Lord, I feel now the curious blend of grief and gladness in me over the endings that the ticking and whirling of things brings; and I listen for your leading to help me faithfully move on through the fear of my time of letting go so the timeless may take hold of me. from Guerrillas of Grace by Ted Loder. Linking today with Barbie Swihart and the Weekend Brew Lisha Epperson, Give me Grace Community (formerly the Sunday Community)
“When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the
fish you have just caught.’
Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore.
It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many
the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’
None of the disciples dared ask Him, ‘Who are you?’
They knew it was the Lord.
Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them,
and did the same with the fish.”
Being at a a church that follows the church year, means we are focusing on EASTERTIDE. And this story was part of the sermon that first Sunday after Easter. After church at lunch we talked about the significance of that breakfast on the beach.
Sure I have heard that story before – many times, but the focus has always been on the facts:
They don’t catch any fish after fishing all night.
And for Pete’s sake, these guys are fisherman.
So they should know what they are doing.
Jesus helps them catch a big load of fish.
The nets don’t break – this is amazing.
Peter jumps out of the boat and swims to Jesus.
They ate breakfast.
Today I see the servanthood of Jesus
in preparing that breakfast.
I see his love.
They were hungry, scared and depressed at losing their friend, not at all sure what was going to happen, so they went and did what they knew best – fish….after all they were fisherman before he called them to be his disciples.
And they Caught.No.Fish.
But Jesus cares for them.
He is good and he delights in them.
After all that had happened,
He offers his presence
and grace on that morning.
He does that for me.
He will do it for you.
Joining with Deidra Riggs and The Sunday Community
Ephesians 1:3,4 How blessed is God. And what a blessing he is. He is the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ. And he takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid the earth’s foundation He had us in mind, and had Settled on us the focus of his love To be made whole and holy by his love. When I was in my freshman year of Bible college a long time ago, (ok, it was 1966-67) I memorized a LOT of verses and passed my test. That was then….and this is now and I “can’t” memorize. But this week I memorized two verses! Ephesians 1:3-10 got into my heart and I decided I just had to try again. These words assuring me God had thought of me all along – precious, but hard for me to grasp, but it’s what it says right here in my Bible. A part of me wants to say this is just poetic language. But if God knows the numbers of the hairs on my head, then I guess it’s safe to believe he sees and knows me. There’s got to be a way I can memorize this, I thought. Maybe doing something visual would work. So I set about writing it in ways I thought I might remember. I started out with this: And after playing with it a bunch of times in my journal, (memorizing as I went) I ended up with this. (the blue and green orb is the earth in case you wonder!) And I memorized two of the 7 verses. Next week I’ll try a couple more. He had me in mind. Settled the focus of his love on me. So I can be WHOLE and HOLY. Hard to grasp May I experience it. Linking with Emily Weiringa imprefect prose
Across this valley, on an old logging road, my brother lost his life, his body giving into the effects of deadly hypothermian before he was found. This scripture speaks of the comfort God’s presence brings to the deep grief that comes from deep loss and the compassion he has toward us. At his memorial service we sang (well, I couldn't actually sing. I did mouth the words) “He gives and takes away He gives and takes away. My heart will choose to say Lord blessed be your name.” Matt Redman linking up with:
James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. I love the view up here from the bedroom-turned-office. Well, office seeems too officious for how my days go now since I retired and Dad came to live with us. I am grateful to the previous owner who put in this wall of windows in this north-facing room. It's as if he knew I'd need a place like this for this time. It's a place where I can retreat, pay attention and listen to God. **** God, I haven’t been outside much and I've missed it. I’ve been alone with dad this week and it’s been Raining most days. You speak to me so clearly though nature But I know you speak to me where I am. I have learned to "Pay attention! Look up. Look down. Look around. And see what God has for you.” And then I notice the the mini blinds how they break up the view on the top of the window even totally obscure the view in the window next to it. But I know nothing out there has changed. Just the view. And I hear you say: Oh my child, the “view” Is like you seeing me. Sometimes you see me so clearly. Sometimes things look a little “broken up” and you wonder where I am. And sometimes you feel as if you can’t see me at all. But I have not changed gone away forsaken you. I am the God who Does.Not.Change Linking with Weekend Brew and Barbie Swihart Still Saturday and Sandra Heska King