Anchored in God’s Goodness

I opened a lap top I haven’t used for a while and found a sticky note below the keyboard that said, “Stay securely anchored in the goodness of God or your theology will be reduced to the level of your pain”.

This quote from an unknown friend must have impacted me deeply at one time just as it does as I read it again now.

How does one stay anchored in the goodness of God when the tides of life thrash against it?

I asked God this question in the form of a prayer and His answer to me was that I needed to cut the rode that had me anchored to my own goodness.

Yikes!!!  Do I really think that I trust my own goodness more than I trust the goodness of God? I would be quick to answer of course not!! BUT, do I think, given the power, I could have designed a less traumatic story for my friend who recently died a brutal death, I have to confess my temptation to say yes.

I want to stay anchored in the goodness of God. I need His grace to hold me there.

As I examine my own thoughts I am asking these three questions:

Is it possible that this story that looks so not good to me has a redemptive purpose in the grand scheme of the goodness of God?

Is it probable that this story that looks so not good to me has a redemptive purpose in the grand scheme of the goodness of God?

Is it providence that this story that looks so not good to me has a redemptive purpose in the grand scheme of the goodness of God?

God is good because God is good. My assessment of His behavior does nothing to change His character.

I can choose to stay anchored in His goodness or lower my theology to the level of my pain.

I invite your response. Let’s talk.

 

 

 

 

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Forging a New Journey

I know that most of the life I have known, on a practical level, is gone. Some of it eroded away by the “or sickness” and the “or for worse” of the marriage vow.  Some of it shattered by the brutal death of the friend I had entrusted into the hands of the good God who I knew would not allow it to end as it did. Some of it by my volitionally stepping away from the ministry role that had become my identity.

There is a beautiful praise song that contains the words “when seasons change and stories end”. Seasons do change and stories do end despite my screaming that it can’t possibly be true. So, having acknowledged, at least cognitively, that all the above is true, I ask the question, “Now what?” and this question is what compels me to embark on a new journey.

I have been invited, spontaneously and with little preparation time to meet some friends at the 45th annual Fiddlers Convention in Lafayette, Indiana. This is about a 4 ½ hour drive that includes Chicago and I will be driving alone. The friend’s I am going to meet are precious to me because of past encounters but our lives rarely touch now. I have never heard of this Fiddlers Convention or any Fiddlers Convention, for that matter. All of this to say, I had many reasons easily available to me to decline this invitation but something in me wanted to accept and I did. It felt like an adventure. I knew I needed to risk adventures to craft a new season and write new stories.

The following “lessons” were gleaned as I drove south from Milwaukee to Indiana on I94 and then the Illinois Toll Road:

As I kept a close eye on my built-in GPS and watched for overhead signs I sensed “Pay attention to the highways in your heart”. I remembered the verse from Psalm 84:5 ESV “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion” Other translations refer to setting your heart on pilgrimage and reading further tells about making the valley of weeping into a place of refreshing springs. I want to focus on the highways of my heart as I map out the new journey for this next season of my life.

Then I was challenged with the thought “Your rearview mirror is too big”. It is a challenge that doesn’t leave me much room to dispute. I feel more at home looking back at where I have been and longing for what I have lost than I do looking forward to the landscape that has yet to be designed. I can start by reducing my rearview mirror to a size that allows occasional glances and recognize that my forward-looking windshield is the place that now needs my attention.

A surprising next lesson came as I struggled to see both distant signs and my dashboard. I was wearing prescription sunglasses that were only designed for distance. To my amazement, I found it easier to see both near and far without the prescription lenses. Because of the blazing sun, I needed sunglasses so I pulled into an Oasis and bought a pair off the rack for $15. I smiled as I realized that the glasses that were needed for my old journey are not necessary for this one. No prescription needed now. Just enjoy the ride.

My sister had generously lent me her I Pass and registered my car so that I didn’t have to stop at tolls. It was a freeing experience and one that would easily preach to know that my tolls had been paid and I could simply drive through.

The route my GPS took me was right through Chicago rather than around on the bypass. I had not taken this route for a long time and I don’t know if I have even driven it. As I navigated through I was suddenly struck by the spectacular view of the Chicago skyline. It didn’t seem to be something that I could see in the distance and then watch as it drew closer. It seemed to just suddenly be there and I was thrilled with the striking spread of breathtaking architecture. As I let myself enjoy this view I sensed that God wanted to tell me that there are more spectacular experiences ahead of me than I now expect.

I am ready to receive them.

Grateful for the GPS and the I Pass, I wondered for a moment what my guidance would be for the highways of my heart when I heard God whisper, “I’ll be your GPS” and “Your tolls have been paid”.

All of these lessons as I take baby steps toward forging a new season in my life. I have yet to know their full impact but the weekend at the Fiddler’s Convention was wonderful, the company was nurturing for my soul and the spectator role I expected to have was replaced with my jumping at the opportunity to stand on stage and sing shape notes at the gospel concert.

Forging a new journey.

I would like to ask those of you who read this to help me know how I can write in such a way that we have a dialogue. Were these thoughts helpful to you, do they apply to your life, are they just personal ideas that have no value for anyone else, do they prompt questions? Please respond and help me become a better writer. Grateful, Roselyn

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I am Home

For background on this story please read Silverstrands.org Mar 3, 2017

Between then and now (April 16, 2017) this dog has been transported to my home where she “was” to stay “temporarily” but…

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(Story through Molly’s eyes)

It’s taken a few weeks for the one who inherited me to claim me as her own. I have belonged to her legally, ever since my first owner’s will was processed. Yet, there has been a lot of pondering.

We have all been sad and that makes it hard to make decisions. The final decision has to be made by the writer of this blog. She kept turning the words of her dying friend over in her mind, “Find a good home for my baby”. The baby she was referring to was me.

As you know from reading the blog of March 3, 2017, I have been a consistent love sponge. My quest has not been easy. I overheard this writer on the phone one day as she said, “All this dog needs is someone to love her. It doesn’t matter who it is. This dog just needs 25 hour attention from someone”.

Well, I knew she believed that but I have been relentless in convincing her that it is not just love I need, but her love.

Today, on Resurrection Day, the barrier came down. My legal owner has chosen to be my owner. As we walked today she told me that I had a new address and to my jump up and down shivering delight it was the same as hers.

I am not staying here until she finds a good home. I AM home!!!!

 

(Story through writer’s eyes)

As I look into the eyes of this precious ball of white fur, as I feel her press her body against my back in the night, as I find her waiting at whatever door I come in with her little tail wagging with all it’s might, I recognize that the only way I have of loving my friend, who died, is loving the animals she left.

Which is not a very hard assignment.

So, I can check one more thing off my list. “Where will this little dog be placed?” This is no longer a question. This little dog belongs to me.

I am glad I made the decision on Easter. I am hesitant to make any comparison to the death and Resurrection of Jesus, but I am aware today that the curtain than was rent on Friday gives me a new definition of home.

I want to more fully realize how unrelenting God is in convincing me that He doesn’t just generally love, He loves me personally.

And with the inauguration of the Kingdom I have a new address.

Thank you, Jesus for making a way for me to look into your eyes and say, “I am home”.

 

 

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Packaged So it Will Not Break

After a trip to sort the possessions of my friend, who recently died, I returned home and realized I had forgotten one precious item. It is interesting to learn what becomes important when the one who is most important dies.

Looking for a way to recover this item, I called the agent who would be doing the estate sale and told her there was one thing that I really wanted but had left behind. I described the item, which was a fragile glass cylinder containing remnants from my trip to Africa in 2003. I had brought these remnants home at the request of this friend. Remembering how important they were to her and how carefully she had created this canister melded the memory of this friend with the memory of this object and it became essential that it be recovered.

The estate sale agent assured me she would look for it. Before long, she called and said she had found it and taken it to a UPS store that would ship it to me.

Receiving the phone call from the UPS agent, who was calling for my credit card number, I asked him if he thought this item could be shipped without it breaking.

With confidence he said, “I have packaged it so that it will not break”.

 Yesterday a huge box was delivered from UPS. I opened it to find an arms length of packing peanuts protecting this glass cylinder that was also wrapped in multiple layers of bubble wrap secured by packing tape.

It was no surprise to extract my precious memoriam totally intact.

As I reflected on this experience, I was reminded again of God’s grace to me.

By sealing me with His Holy Spirit, I am packaged so that I will not break.

I may at times feel forgotten. I may travel on a journey with many starts and stops, many incidents of rough handling by those who do not recognize my fragility.

But, I will arrive at my destination intact.

I am a package belonging to Our Lord Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit I will be delivered into the arms of Our Heavenly Father.

I am packaged so that I will not break.

 

 

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That One Wants to Live

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I was looking up the number to call the Garden Center when I remembered that my friend (86 y/o) who worked at this Garden Center would have the wisdom I needed.

This friend is mentally quicker than most of my younger friends. I love to find a reason to call her because I always find her delightful.

After the usual catch up that an infrequent conversation requires, I told her the reason for my call.

I had purchased two bamboo plants from the Garden Center where she worked prior to her retirement. I explained to her that I had been told I could put them in water or potting soil and the results would be the same.

So, I secured one in a bed of rocks and filled the tube with water. The other I secured in a bed of rocks but filled the vase with potting soil. (OK, Let’s be honest. When I asked my husband to water the plants while I was gone for an extended time, I forgot to tell him about these bamboos.)

So now, I am home and the bamboo in water is thriving, but the one in potting soil looks dead.

Yet, there is a green crown on the top of the “dead” stalk and when I pulled the stalk out of the soil I found roots.

Hearing this story my friend initially said we could try an experiment and cut the stalk close to the leaves but when she heard the stalk had roots her tone changed to optimism. “Oh, if this plant has roots it wants to live”. She went on to instruct that I wash the roots well and remove all the dead leaves from the stalk. She then said to get rid of all the soil, rinse the rocks, secure the stalk in the clean rocks, fill the vase with water and pray over it.

I told her I would do these things and then call and let her know what happened. She said, “Please do”.

As I observe this plant, I wonder how many people I meet who look like they aren’t going to make it. I pray that I remember to check and see if they have roots. I pray that I watch for evidence of green life. I ask for wisdom to help them rinse off that which is choking their growth. I want them to have access to both a strong foundation and living water.

I trust that when I look like this hopeless plant someone will do these things for me.

May we recognize “That One Wants to Live”!

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Encountering Jesus on the Street

On my journey to know God more intimately I am working on spending the day in ongoing conversation with Him. This morning I said, “I’m not getting out of bed until you say something to me”. My tone was not demanding, but rather playful. I knew He would understand.

I waited in silence for quite a long time and then He whispered, “I have a surprise planned for you today”.

I got up quickly and set my mind to watch for the surprise. I knew one would come and I didn’t want to miss it.

At the same time, I went through the normal routine of daily living. One of my tasks for my current guest status is to take the dog for a walk through the streets of a mobile home park.

As we walked my eyes were captivated by a lady coming towards me carrying a satchel of papers. I had seen her in this park before but not recently. She seemed glad to see me and I opened with, “I haven’t seen you for quite a while”.

“No”, she replied. She then went on to tell me that her husband was in medical ICU and she was struggling to manage the paper work that would keep his insurance active.

This lady is from another country and English is her second language. I know, from my own experience, that Medicare forms and Insurance papers are a nightmare for anyone. I sensed this was doubly hard for her as she lamented that she has no family here and no one to help her.

As I listened I learned that she was under a time deadline to get some papers notarized. One option that was presented to her was free but she would need to transport her husband to the office of this notary. This, of course, is impossible as the husband has a tracheotomy and is on a ventilator. The other option is for it to be done by a notary in the hospital but this would cost $40.

She looked at me with body language of sadness and confusion not knowing how a hospital could deny care and how it could be that there was no one to help her.

I asked again wanting to be sure I understood. “So, you need $40 in order to complete the paper work for your husband to be eligible for services and you don’t have $40?”

“No, she said, “I am waiting for my Social Security check but it will be too late”.

Knowing I had a $50 bill in my purse that what was wondering what to do with itself, I put my hand on this lady’s shoulder and turned the whole story over to Jesus.

Undeterred by her objections, I asked her to hold the leash and I would bring her the money.

She gratefully accepted and wanted to know how to thank me. I said, “Just thank Jesus”.

She thanked Jesus and she thanked me, too. She wanted my name and address so she can send me a card.

As we then walked separate ways, she to the bus stop and me on my dog walk, I recognized that I had just had an encounter with Jesus.

He smiled and said this was my surprise.

My heart leapt with joy.

I had encountered Jesus on the street.

 

 

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No, Honey, There is Nothing Wrong

These words came to me from my massage therapist whom I called to tell that my muscles had a rebound effect to her work on my body. I was feeling increased pain and a general feeling that there was something not right.

This therapist knows that I am in this city for the purpose of settling the affairs of my friend who recently died. She had met this friend and knew how precious our relationship was and how deeply I am grieving.

“No, Honey, there is nothing wrong. It’s just that you are here and she is not”.

Those simple words of authoritative wisdom have not left me.

There is not much that can be said to a grieving person that feels like help. Yet, this response was helpful to me.

First, she spoke with authority. Grief brings with it a sense that everything is shifting. It’s helpful when someone is sure of something because you don’t feel sure of anything.

Then, she gave assurance that there is nothing wrong. Grief whispers that something has happened that is very wrong. Guilt whispers that I could/should have done something different and this would not have happened.

Finally, she uncovered the stark reality: You are here and she is not.

I’ve always come to this city because my friend was here. Now I am here and she is not.

It feels intrusive to sort through her personal things while her ashes are displayed on a coffee table with an official letter that they have permission to travel.

But this statement, you are here and she is not is not limited to this season of executing her will and releasing her possessions.

No, until my name comes up in the book where all my days are written it will be my reality. I am here on this earth and she is not.

Deep in my heart, I know that this reality does not mean that there is something wrong. In fact, my faith voice is beginning to gain strength and actually tell me that all is well.

God used the voice of this therapist, who is of Jewish faith, Syrian heritage and Mexican culture to speak the words that Jesus wants me to hear.

Strengthened by the Holy Spirit, I can walk on because there is nothing wrong. It’s just that I am here and my friend is not.

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