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A Mighty Fortress

I don’t see many fortresses these days.  My neighborhood doesn’t look like a neighborhood of fortresses.  I have been to Fort Sumter, and a couple of other historic sites, so I can conjure the image of a fortress.  The purpose of a fortress is to keep people out, and also to keep people in.

Reading Psalm 48 today taught me about fortresses.  I guess back in the time David was writing this psalm, having, and being in, a fortress was a big deal. Of course David was talking about Jerusalem when he said “Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God!…the joy of all the earth…her citadels….a fortress.”  Are you getting the image of a college in Charleston?  🙂

the-citadel

 

He goes on to say in a very poetic manner that some kings came together and saw the fortress and, basically, flipped out.  It says they trembled like the “anguish of a woman in labor.” If you watch Call the Midwife, you get it.

So a fortress back then was a big deal.  It was touchable.  It was seeable.  You could walk around in it.  Very tactile.  David goes on to say that “As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God, which God will establish forever.  This is where we come in.

Today’s fortress, protected by God, is in our mind.  We must hear God’s word through the Bible.  We must see with the eyes of our heart that God gave his Son as the ultimate blood sacrifice so that we could “Walk around Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels.”  God is saying that not only will he stay with us forever, he will protect us from the enemy.  As long as we are in, the enemy is out.

Remember this the next time your circumstances get in the way of your peace.  When your son or daughter’s actions hurt your heart, when your pet is ill, when a friend wounds you, when your spouse wounds you, when you cannot control something you want to control, please remember, you are in God’s fortress.  Imagine it in your mind.  Inside. Safe. Protected.  With your good and awesome friend, Jesus.  Pray for yourself and your attitudes to be changed, inside the fortress with our God.

 

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Inheritance of Hope

I have a hope chest.  I got it right after college. It is made of wood, it’s about 2 1/2 by 5 feet and it smells like cedar when I open it.

I looked in my hope chest recently, probably for the first time in 18 years.  In it I found a couple of homemade university blankets.  My memory is hazy about who made them.  I wonder now why I didn’t use them.  If I use them now, I would smell like I was wrapped in a cedar tree.  Then came the handmade napkins with a lobster pattern.  Once again, why not used?  Why not stored in a linen drawer?  They would have been a great accessory for our crawfish parties.

Next comes my wedding stuff, including pictures, the register, invitations, planning book and a “bride file” with all the names of the guests and the stuff they gave us.  Now that we’re divorced, should I send it back?  Or is there a statute of limitations, say, if you were together for at least 10 years, go ahead and keep the gifts.

The last items I placed into my hope chest were things related to my daughters.  Birth announcements, a calendar of baby’s first year, the christening dress, and various artwork made by little hands.  Growing up goes by so fast.

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I haven’t looked in that chest since placing the last items for my youngest daughter, now 17.  But now, in my new house, with the ink still wet on my divorce papers, God has nudged me to look.  Hope. Chest.

He is asking me, where does my hope lie?

In my education? Looking back on it, I sure had a blast in college, and got good grades, too.  It prepared me (or it was more like a stepping stone) for my accounting career.  Here in reality today, though, I have to say that although I like accounting and I think it’s fun (yes, I’m an accounting nerd), my hope doesn’t lie there.  If God blesses me with financial provision, I won’t have to work.  If God wants me to be working, there I will be.  To me, it is just a matter of where will I meet people to be in relationship with – to witness to.  It’s going to be one place or another.

Does my hope lie in lobster napkins?  Those parties at that time in my life involved a lot of drinking.  Alcohol, not water.  The blur of good times was just that, a blur of shallow and insubstantial relationships.

Now we’re up to the wedding, the marriage.  I tried for a long time to be half of another, yet independent at the same time.  I hoped it would work.  In my heart of hearts, I hoped.  I even prayed.  It just didn’t work out.  No hope there.  In fact, for a few years there, my hope was sucked out of me with the force of tornadoes.   Wow, I don’t seem to be batting a thousand on the hope chest.

Then along comes my girls.  My precious babies.  I was so a mama, and I like to think I still am.  I love them and I love taking care of them.  And that’s exactly the problem with making my children my hope.  When they do or become something I never envisioned for them, a little piece of my heart hurts.  All I can do is move on and keep supporting and encouraging them.  I can’t make them my hope, that’s too much of a stretch.

So I can’t place my hope in my education, my career, shallow relationships, marriage, my ex husband or my children, no matter how much I have in my hope chest.

You know, I think the hope chest is misnamed.  It should be called a memory chest.  One day my children will inherit my hope chest, with all those memories.  I realize, though, that is not what I want their inheritance to be.  I want them to have an inheritance of hope.

I have experienced hopelessness, so I understand the lack of hope, living in the dark.  The Bible says those who lack hope are despairing, are choosing their own mad course, are dead, are miserable, have shame and sorrow, and are spiritually dull and indifferent.  I do not want to be those things, I want to have hope!

Hope is not a “looking back” action.  You don’t hope that yesterday you didn’t run out of gas.  You don’t hope that last week you were peaceful.  Hope is a continuous, forward looking action.

Hope throughout the Bible is described as these things:

– Courage

– Protected

– Resting in safety

– Salvation

– The LORD alone

– Help

– The Word

– For the living

– Deliverance

– Seeking

– A future

-Plans for good

– God listening

– Boldness

-Confident assurance

– Finding God

– End of captivity

– Restoration of fortunes

– Unfailing love

– Merices

– God’s faithfulness

– Freedom

– Waiting patiently and confidently

– Happy

– Peace

– Daring

– Belonging to Jesus

– Honoring Christ

This is why and how I hope.  This is what I want my daughters to inherit.

Stars

I gave my problems to Jesus today,
And in his fanciful merciful way
He took my hands, curved them just so
Helping hold those problems I would not let go.

He and me, we blew breath on that living dish,
And like a dandelion wish,
Those problems swirled to ash
Bringing my heart peace in a dash.

To my amazement the ashes they flew,
To what end I hadn’t a clue.
Up to the heavens new stars they made
Light from the darkness the Master bade.

images

Faces

Satan comes to steal and destroy
He has so many faces
What today will be his ploy
And where will be his places?

 Will he look like a friend,
   a sister or brother
Will he be your spouse
Or will he be another?

The face he takes you may not know
But the good news is
No matter how below
    you’ve sunk in regression
Jesus has taken all your transgression.

So do not fear
For you are beloved
Let Jesus steer
And daily accept the dove.

 

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Going to Sleep

Waiting for sleep

In the cricket song night

Frog voices rise

Praising the Lord

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Mother’s Day

Mom and me at IHOP

Mom and me at IHOP

Mom and me went to church today.  I was so glad to have mom join me because no other members of my family went with me today.  Teenagers and husbands, what can you do with them?

So mom and I, we recreated our many many experiences of going to Arsenal Hill Presbyterian Church as I was growing up.   From the times I remember riding the rocking horse in the nursery to the time I was confirmed to when I left for college, my mom was there by my side.  Through all those boring sermons. (They only became non-boring when I was an adult with my own children.)  I suppose mom got more out of those sermons than I did, although they were soaking into my soul and creating a love for Jesus Christ and the other Trinity members.

Yes, as I sung with the Youth Choir my mom was there every time.  I had a favorite aunt who would come pick me up for Youth Group as I entered my teen years, and she attended Camp Longridge as a chaperone each summer.  Good, good memories.  Camp Longridge was where I accepted Christ, the date memorialized in my Living Bible, July 18, 1975 at 10:30 pm.  In this same Bible I wrote quotations and even had a few people sign it, like a yearbook.  I note one today – “Is what I’m living for worth Christ’s dying for?”

Mom and me, I wonder how many times we said the Lord’s Prayer together, the Apostle’s Creed, or sung the Doxology?  We both had terrible voices, we were so timid singing it came out a whisper.  But we were there, and we were doing it together.

My mom wrote in my Bible, “I try to live each day so that if I die, someone will miss me.”  And I do miss her.   She entered Heaven on January 4th of this year.  But as surely as I went to church yesterday, on Mother’s Day, she was sitting beside me signing the Doxology, so low I could barely hear her.

Mom and Sam

Mom and Sam

Nature’s Music

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In summer
Cricket song
Rises and falls
   heat rises
  bird song falls
  to our ears
 
The music of nature
Never ceases to be
 
Even the quiet 
  tells a story
of hunger
of fear
of waiting, and watching,
a story of rest
of trying to best
  others
 
Like nature, humanity is
  struggling
  succeeding and failing
  living in joy and pain
 
And through all our Master watches
In quiet
From His dwelling place.
 
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