Archive for the ‘Psalm 139’ Category

Beautifully Broken

At the end of the sermon Sunday, a video was played showing several people engrossed in their electronic devices while life was going on around them. One of the images was a proposal taking place in front of a sunset.

For some reason the image reminded me of vacation.

Typically our family takes a beach vacation. I sit under an umbrella and read book after book for a week or more while the rest of the family scavenges for shells, shark’s teeth, sea glass, sand dollars, and various other treasures. Every so often I will join them in the water to cool down a bit, but I never stay too long for fear of burning.

Vacation is my chance to catch up on recreational reading that I don’t get to do much of during the rest of the year. Some years I have read as many as twenty novels while lying on the beach under an umbrella.

This year my teenagers started making comments about me reading months before we packed for our dream trip to Sanibel Island. They weren’t being mean, simply dreaming out loud what vacation would look like for all of us.

However, it kind of hurt my feelings that they were counting me out of their plans. They had already decided that I would sit in one spot, babysit our belongings, and read by myself while they did all the things we had been talking and dreaming about since they had been in elementary.

Not this year. I thought. This year I’m going to do everything everyone else does. I’m not going to be holder of the stuff. I’m not going to be the responsible one, the good behavior example. We only have a couple summer vacations left before they leave for college. Who knows if we’ll ever travel as a family again after that. I’m going to participate. Not watch.

When it came time to pack, I didn’t include any physical books. I didn’t download any e-books onto my Kindle. I didn’t even grab a magazine for the road. And I didn’t say a word about what I wasn’t doing to anyone else.

When we headed to the beach on day two, no one even packed chairs down the path. If mom wasn’t sitting in them, no one else would feel a need to go keep her company every so often.

All three members of my family had found extremely unique, amazing shells within a day or two of combing the beach. I spent pretty much the entire time on the beach searching for my something special, and hadn’t found anything worth showing off.

After being excited for one of their umpteenth awesome finds, I found myself sitting in the sand digging through an enormous pile of shells, frustrated, discouraged, disappointed, and just a wee bit jealous.

God, out of everything out here, I just want to find ONE special thing. I don’t need to find tons, but I’d like to take ONE thing home that I can say I found. One special shell that is whole. No missing pieces. No brokenness. One perfect, special shell just for me.

And when I looked back down at the pile of shells in front of me, all I saw was the same pile of shells that was there before I prayed.

It wasn’t long after that when I rose to take the daily sunset picture. Sunset on Bowman’s Beach was the daily highlight. We made sure we were present for God’s nightly light show. Every night was something different.

As I struggled to frame my shots of the sun melting into the ocean around all of the other attendees, I again became frustrated.

Just one perfect shot! If only those people would move! They are intruding on my view of your show, God.

It was in that moment I finally heard what God had been trying to say and my eyes filled with tears as I realized what I had been doing.

I wasn’t looking for special; I was looking for perfection. I was totally missing the special in my search for something that doesn’t exist outside of God.

Carrie, I created each of those people and each of those shells. They are all absolutely special and perfect. You’re looking at the wrong things. Of course they’re missing pieces, cracked, broken, and discolored. They’ve weathered the storms of life. Been battered by an uneven, rocky ground. They’ve been out their depths and totally washed up. And they are beautiful. Stop looking for perfection and see the beauty that is within each one.

Immediately I was humbled and had an entire new outlook on the images before me. Handcrafted by God. And He knew not only every individual chip, crack, broken piece, and hole, but He also knew the events that caused each imperfection to exist.

I wonder how often we get caught up in perfection that we miss the beauty God has placed right in front of our faces. See, I put down my electronic devices and books, and I still almost missed it. I spent most of my time searching for something that wasn’t even what God had prepared for me.

Has God placed any beautiful broken things in front of you this week? Are you trying to fix them or are you simple loving them as God’s creation?

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The Deliberate Mom

Finding Fortune Without the Cookies

Tonight we went to the local Chinese restaurant for supper. In keeping with tradition, we open fortune cookies and share our fortunes after the meal. This used to be a lot of fun for us. We’d joke and tease based on what silliness we found inside. (We do not “believe” in fortunes. They are simply fun.)

Tonight as I watched Chris & Lily eat, they had buffet and I was waiting for a special order, I told them I still hadn’t blogged today and wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about. Lily suggested emus to which I quickly said, “NO!”

That’s an entirely different story.

I jokingly said, “Maybe I’ll write about dinner at the Chinese restaurant.”

And after reading my fortune, that’s where blogging mind has gone.

“You are very expressive and positive in word, act and feeling.”

I sure don’t feel that way lately. Although most people I know probably would say something like that about me.

I try to shed positive light on even the darkest cases. Don’t get me wrong. If you are continually making the wrong decisions, continually putting yourself in bad situations, and saying you want things to change but doing absolutely nothing to change your situation, I won’t lie to you and tell you everything’s going to work out just fine.

Recently an acquaintance wasn’t happy with some results they were getting. They were discouraged and disappointed. They didn’t even want to tell me what was going on because things weren’t where they wanted them to be. When I finally got an answer, I asked a question that all the sudden showed the individual that there actually was growth and improvement. “You are always so positive! I wish other people would look at things the way you do. I wouldn’t be so stressed.”

Chris read my fortune and nodded as if agreeing. Lily was standing at the end of the table and said, “What? Does it say you’re going to get cancer?”

Silence at our table.

If you’ve read my blog, you know I’ve had a cancer scare. When they went in to biopsy to growth there wasn’t anything there. I’m still very uncomfortable about this. My question all along has been how do we know the growth wasn’t on the OUTSIDE of my bladder. I’ve never gotten an answer.

Too make matter worse, and to explain Lily’s cryptic laughter killing comment, a couple months after my cancer scare I opened a fortune cookie during a family dinner expecting to goof and have a good laugh. I kind of wish I had kept that fortune, but we left the restaurant immediately that night. It was as if that slip of paper had a death sentence on it. It was mine, and it talked about cancer.

We really don’t believe in fortunes, and we look at them as fun. In any culture, is cancer fun? Why in the world would someone write a fortune cookie fortune about any possibility of cancer in someone’s future? Perhaps that one cookie should have been called a misfortune cookie.

Ever since that experience, opening fortune cookies is a little tense. Everyone waits to see what mine says. I had several bad ones in a row and that one was the worst. So, both kids and my husband wait on pins and needles every time to see what my fortune says.

You would think we’d just stop opening them, but it’s like a moth and the flame. I just can’t leave the thing lying on the table.

I suppose the real reason I can still bring myself to snap the cookie in half and slip the paper out is because I know no matter what that paper has to say, it changes nothing. How do I know?

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

God has already written my “fortune”. His thoughts are good. They include a future and hope. I have nothing to be afraid of inside of cookies!

And He said to me,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I am not called to be strong. (That seems so wrong to say.) I am called to rely upon God. He is strong. Sometimes I get so caught up in being “strong” for everyone that I forget that is not a calling placed on my life. I have been called to persevere, but not to be strong.

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! Psalm 139:14-17

I will praise my Maker who knew me before I was created. He numbered my days before I was fully formed. My life is full of purpose because I am here on purpose. God put me here on this earth on this day for His specific purpose. If that doesn’t put some ENERGY into your life, knowing that no matter how your physical birth came about God planned you, God chose you, God ordained you to be right where you are for such a time as this, then I don’t know what will.

Friend, this promise isn’t just for me. Not one of us is an accident. You were created by my God and Maker to be exactly who He created you to be!!! In this day and age, in this time and place, yes, even in what might seem to be the worst situation you can imagine.

Because when we are weak, He is strong!!! Because He didn’t plan the worst for us, He planned the best for us.

Sometimes my journey, my musings, take me through some dark, dark times. There are days, years even, I find myself saying, “I’m really trying to be positive here, but…”.

“For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt.” Mark 9:49

Everyone will be seasoned by fire. I’m not special in regards to my trials. Everyone will be seasoned.

Every sacrifice (living or dead) will be seasoned with salt. Salt was precious. To God, I am precious. Salt slows decay. That’s my job as a Christian. Salt adds flavor. As Christians, we should add flavor to our communities…and the flavor should taste good!

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16

If you lose your saltiness you won’t be worth much any more. So remember.

There is a light within you. It cannot be hidden. You can’t hide it. You must carry it out in front of you to light not only your path, but the path of those around you. They need to see what you are doing so they in turn can come to glorify your Father in heaven.

God’s promises don’t come wrapped in cookies written in short sentences on tiny slips of paper. They may be on an app on your phone or tablet, in a thick, leather book with broken binding, or off the tongue of an older relative you typically tune out. God’s promises are recorded in a book called the Holy Bible, and they are true and accurate all day, every day for every one of His children. It isn’t like a fortune, horoscope, or even the Mayan calendar. It’s a love story written just for you.

Today I’m reminded that I need to cling to His expressive and positive words, acts, and feelings and a whole lot less of those the world tries to entice me with.

I’ve already used way too many words today for having nothing to say, but I feel like I’m supposed to say this. So, if you’ve been waiting on a sign here it is. Find a Bible believing and preaching church and GO tomorrow morning. Regardless of the humans in attendance, GOD will meet you there!!!!