Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off…

“Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is.”
                                 ~ Margaret Mitchell
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How Can I Keep From Singing?

“We must exchange the philosophy of excuse for the philosophy of responsibility.” 
                                                                       ~ Barbara Jordan
 
Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.
                                                               ~Epehsians 1:7-10
 
     I am so thankful for the choir in which I sing.  I had the benefit of a decade of the best training a singer could have, a teacher who answered a barrage of questions, an accompanist who played the alto line even when I didn’t ask.  I have a new choir director, a new accompanist and they are kind and gentle and expect me to ask if I have a question.  I know it is on ME to learn my part, it is on ME to find it sung by a choir that closely resembles the effect that the director is trying to achieve.  
     Blame falls on me for many things.  Too many things.  I place it there, thinking it must always be on me if something goes wrong in a relationship, in a lesson, well, you get the idea.  A dear choir member heard my distress yesterday, when I voiced something and she took me aside and reminded me that it is not on me if someone makes a grumpy face because they are inconvenienced. That led to a more in depth discussion about peace, and other folks’ responsibilities.  
     And of course I was able to make that application across many other experiences.  It is not up to me to live well on other’s behalves, or to try to be the “good kid” in the class so that the teacher won’t be upset.  I am responsible for my behavior, my responses AND those things don’t make me better than the others, it is just what I need to do to find my peace with God.
     Any of you people pleasers out there that can relate?  So thankful for another wonderful life lesson that I learned in the choir.
      How can I keep from singing?
arranged by Mark Hayes
 
      Because of Him,
      Linda

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Seagulls

It is not to know what to do, but strength to do it, knowing.
~ Muriel Strode

That’s why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

~ Ephesians 1:18

I am watching a dear friend in the throes of a decision that, ultimately, is the healthiest choice she can make. It will preserve her sanity, improve her health, give her strength. She has a short period of time before this decision is made manifest. And that is just where the testing is. Constantly being asked to do more than she can imagine, and yet, knowing what she has already set in motion.
Looking at her, I see my own path. Difficult decision, ultimate health improvement, sanity preserved…and there is that period of time I am calling “the testing.” Where Satan does his best stuff to distract, dissuade, de-rail.
I chose this passage because I love the language of today where Eugene Petersen “translates”: “to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do…” It is my prayer for my friend, it is my prayer for myself, it is my prayer for you.
Listen for the seagull while you keep your eye on the horizon. God will bring you in, safe, sound, sure.


Seagulls

Lord, bring me in to your harbor, where you will give me rest. Help me to rejoice in the sounds of seagulls, for I know the shore is near.
Give me strength to finish strong.

Because of Him,
Linda

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A Gift of God

“We are all gifted. That is our inheritance.” 
                       ~ Ethel Waters
 
Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.
                
                ~ 1 Peter 5:8-9
 
     I work with a wonderful group of children.  And in the group, there are two subgroups, the Book Doctors, and the Apprentice Poets.  To see their gifts in action is a gift in itself.  To watch them give them credit for enjoying a new thing, for getting good at that new thing, and then sharing it?  A good lesson for me.
     I remember seeing a comic strip in the Sunday papers years ago.  All I remember about it was a girl, spending time with each of her friends and clearly seeing their gifts, encouraging them in their gifts. She then went to her father and asked what her gift was because she felt she had nothing to offer.  Her dad pointed out that she encouraged her friends, and was a good friend to them and sometimes, that is a gift in itself.   That comic strip gave me hope, and helped me to let go of some thoughts I had no business entertaining.
      The next time someone compliments you on having a gift, simply stand in the light of God, pause and say “Thank you.”  God is answering your prayers.
 
Every Person is a Gift of God
 
Every Person is a Gift of God
 
     Because of Him,
     Linda

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Whispering

There is something in the nature of silence which affects me deeply. Why it is I know not; but I do know that I love to be alone at such an hour as this. I love to forget the outward world and hold communion with the beings of the mind. 
 
       ~ Charles Lanman
 
 
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
 
      ~ Ephesians 2:8-10
 
     I listened to some of my favorite children’s authors this weekend at the Bank Street School in New York City. The panel I will refer to in this post has to do with non-fiction and the way authors know it is time to write.  Candace Fleming (http://www.candacefleming.com/) was talking about a book she was writing about Buffalo Bill.  She talked about doing years of research. She was sitting in her office and she said she heard the whispering of her character encouraging her to start writing.  That her research was done. Candace was not referring to the actual character appearing to her and speaking, but she was communicating a sense of when she knew it was time to start writing the book.
    Because I am guilty of much the same thing when it comes to poetry, I paid attention.  I will research and research and research to the point of distraction.  My daughter, who is also a writer said, “Mom just write the poem.” And,  did and do for the most part.  
     Sometimes, we do this with the Lord.  We reason, research, plead and put off.  And then, in that silence between raindrops, we hear the gentle, steady whisper of the Lord saying, “move on, start writing, make that call, take that action.”
    After the storm, sometimes in its midst, there is an eye, a calm, a place where we can hear the silence.  Listen for the voice of the Lord.  Then do. Take a step.
 
I Made a Step – Mighty Clouds of Joy
 
      Because of Him,
      Linda

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Live Into Hope

“In city, in suburb, in forest, no way to stretch out the arms — so if you would grow,go straight up or deep down.” 


     ~ Denise Levertov

 
Skilled living gets its start in the Fear-of-God,
    insight into life from knowing a Holy God.
It’s through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens,
    and the years of your life ripen.
Live wisely and wisdom will permeate your life;
    mock life and life will mock you.
 
      ~Proverbs 9:10-12
 
     My dad was a wise man.  Not the camel riding, star finding variety, but wise, about every day life and getting though it.  He told us to always do our best, no matter what job we took, he taught us that our name was really all we had to leave behind and to make sure that was was associated with it was something of which we would be proud.  
     The difference between my dad and many men who spoke wisdom, was that he tried to live up to his word.  Every day.  He held a high standard for himself and was kind in the ways he taught us to want that as well.
     Do I fall?  Oh yes.  Some days I am truly feeling knee-high to a grasshopper.  But like my dad, and my mom, I keep trying.  God is the only one I should fear.  Not the abusive situation, the strangeness in the workplace, the relatives that I just don’t get.  God holds us all in God’s hand.  That is why I love the poet’s advice…and I would prefer to have my roots go straight down in God’s heart and my arms lifted in praise even when it’s only inside.  
    Live into hope this day.  God knows your situation and your heart.
 
Lord, help me to hear your voice from the floor of my fall, from the heights of my joy. In Jesus’s name.
 
Because of Him,
Linda

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Fine Tuning

“We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the onestring we have, and that is our attitude.” 
~ Charles Swindoll
 
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
~ Psalm 27:14
 
The Spider Tunes its Web
Make Music With What Remains
 
These are two very different short clips.  One opened my eyes to the wonders of a spider building and tuning its web.  The vibrations give it the information it needs to move to retrieve dinner or to find a mate.
The other clip reminds us to not give up no matter what you have left, but to make music with what remains.  Indeed Charles Swindoll’s quote came alive for me. What lies before me is unknown, but if I trust the Lord’s “vibrations” and use what I have and one more thing :
 
Wait on the Lord –Rosephanye Powell.  Yes, wait on the Lord for timing, just as every musician, every spider, every creature waits on the Lord for direction.
Lord, tune me.  Help me to feel, hear, look to you for direction.  Help me to use every thing that I have (left) and every new thing for your glory. Amen
 
Because of Him,
Linda

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