Monday, August 1, 2016

Pain, Purpose and a Plan

As a person of faith, I should never be speechless when it comes to God’s ways and his timing, but the last few weeks have rendered me a little speechless, I must say. I keep thinking about a message I heard one Sunday morning, months ago, while visiting my parents.

On the way to church that morning, I prayed a simple prayer aloud in my car, “Lord, you knew I would be here today, and you know the heartache I’ve carried for so long. I need a word from you. What would you have me know?”

When the pastor announced the title of his message, I felt goosebumps everywhere, and I knew, beyond all doubt, that God had sent me to that church that morning. 

The title of his message was: “The Countenance of Faith,” and within a few sentences, God’s word for me was delivered to my front door: As much as you trust my ability to do something, you have to equally trust my timing in doing it.

Now I’ll admit, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear—heartache fosters impatience, after all—but it was exactly what I needed to know, and I clung to it for all I was worth.

In the weeks following, whenever my grief would overwhelm me, I would revisit the message, and hold tightly to what God had said: Trust my timing, Gayle. Not yours. Mine. It was the hardest thing I've ever done—trusting through my tears—but I did.

Fast forward to today, and although the fog of heartache hasn't lifted, I clearly see God's hand, rearranging the clouds, unfolding a beautiful rainbow in ways I could never have imagined or would have believed. A beautiful, unexpected, perfectly-timed rainbow just for me.

I shared that to say this: If you’re desperate to escape from your misery, your confusion, or your grief, remember that, sometimes distressing things have to happen in our lives in order for God's master plan to be accomplished. He doesn't necessarily send the crisis, but he allows it to happen, and he uses it as a means of placing us where we need to be when we need to be thereemotionally, mentally or even physically sometimes.

Remember Joseph? He could never have saved his people from starvation if he had not been in Egypt. Yes, he arrived there as a scared boy, sold into slavery by his own brothers, no less. But through it all, the Bible says that God was with Joseph. And in the end, Joseph fully understood that the pain he endured had purpose, because Almighty God had a plan. Joseph's words to his brothers, after years of separation were: "You thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good."

So, my friend, regardless of the situation you find yourself in today, don't despair. If your faith is secure in God, and your life is surrendered to his ways and his timing, all things will work together for your good. Hold tightly to his promise and believe. 

Linking up with Charlotte at:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Savoring the Moments ~ Arabella and Me

Friday afternoon, I was needing some of my grand niece's sugar, so I texted her mother and she said come on over. They were looking out the front door when I drove into the driveway, and seeing their smiles made my heart glad.

Arabella is growing so fast, and learning something new every day, I'm sure. I wish I could pause the moments of her life, but all I can do is savor the ones we share.

As I sat next to her on the couch, breathing in her innocence, I thought of the world in which we live, where evil runs rampant. It's a dark place in many ways, but thank God for kids, the song says. They give us reasons to keep loving, and hoping and praying for brighter tomorrows. ♦

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ties That Bind

It was a good 4th. Those who could, gathered among the pines with Mom and Dad at the old home place. Twin sister brought a roast with the trimmings, I brought potato salad, and Mother fixed a pot of pinto beans.

At one point, twin sister sat down at the piano and played patriotic tunes. Of course, harmonies soon followed, and prayers for our country were spoken aloud.

As the sun sank into the west, we retreated to the front porch for a picture. The trusty tripod captured this shot, while we battled the stifling humidity. Twin sister's hubby (my dear B-I-L) had a wounded toe. Thus, the one shoe.

In Daddy's usual fashion, we formed a circle in the living room and prayed before departing. As I squeezed the hands of those I love, I thanked God for the genuine joy in my soul and for ties that bind in a world that's unraveling. ♦

Linking to:

Monday, June 27, 2016

Holding Hands in the Backseat

A child is such a precious gift from above, and I love making memories with my grandniece, Arabella Marie. 

While riding to church Sunday morning with her grandparents, I laid my hand on her car seat and she immediately wrapped her little fingers around mine. It was a tiny taste of heaven, and I could've stayed like that all day long.

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
Matthew 19:14

I'm linking to:
Mosaic Monday

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Finding Peace

At work this week, a friend came to me, and I could tell by her face that she was troubled. Her life has taken some unexpected turns of late. Things that once seemed clear are no longer certain. Present circumstances aren’t at all what she envisioned for this stage of her life. Understandably, she has questions of why, how and when.

We talk often, and she knows about the personal burden I’ve carried for over a year. She wanted to know how I keep on going, seemingly with grace and ease. How do I keep on keeping on, despite the dark clouds looming over each step I take?

She’s a person of faith, and, of course, I told her that I still have meltdown moments, when the tears just won’t stop falling—I had one the other night. But what keeps me going, during times of heart-wrenching grief, is the Spirit of Christ living within and my unshakable faith in God's Word and his unending love for me.

I might not know why, how or when, but I do know who. And when I place myself in his hands, and when I put my trust in his Word, and I keep my mind on him—the one who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all I can ask or think; the one who promised that all things "work together" for my good—peace beyond understanding envelops my soul, and I can keep on going for another day. No, it isn't easy—total trust in God—but it is the only route to finding peace.

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee."
Isaiah 26:3

I'm linking with:
Grace at Home
Spiritual Sundays

Thursday, May 26, 2016

May in Review

I don't know if it's because my job is deadline driven or what, but this year has been one big blur for me, zipping by at the speed of sound. I simply can't believe May is almost over.

The first of the month found me surrounded by paint cans, drop cloths, ladders, rollers and brushes. Living alone makes it easy to do stuff like that—nobody bugging me about getting the table cleared and fixing supper. Wink.

I had been wanting to paint my living room the same color as my dining room for a while. I used Behr's Marquee paint (guaranteed one-coat coverage) and the color is "Nurture." It's a very soft, calming color, and I'm totally pleased. For some reason, the new color required different decor on the mantel, and although I've not got things exactly like I want them, I'm getting there. I scattered my copper pieces around the room and also purchased a few new ones.

I also had the brilliant idea of replacing my existing coffee table with my DIY project from my granddaughter's room—this oneThe only catch was: I had to get it downstairs, and it weighs more than an 18-wheeler with a load of steel. 

Now, trust me, I do stupid things all the time, playing Sampson, but that was about the stupidest thing ever! I wrestled with that coffee table in the stairwell for longer than you would believe, trying to figure out how on earth I was going to get it down without it (or me) falling to the bottom of the stairs and banging into a thousand pieces. I actually had a "come to Jesus meeting" on the stairs, hanging on to the table for dear life, asking for forgiveness for my sin. If I had captured the descent on video, it would go viral. 

But, as they say, all is well that ends well, and the coffee table is safe and sound in the living room, looking quite lovely beneath my books and what-nots. 

Mother's Day was bittersweet. I still have no answers as to why my only child suddenly banished me and my family from her life without warning or explanation a year ago this week. Needless to say, I miss her and my grandchild every single day, but I do my best not to let my grief rob me of the good things that were and the good things that remain. Thus, Big Sister and I spent Mother's Day with our dear mom. She is loved by all who know her, and I wish she could live forever.

Daddy turned 89 on the 14th. God has blessed him with long life and good health, and we celebrated with a partial family gathering at a catfish place near their home.

In my mind's eye, Daddy remains the most handsome and strongest man I know. He drives me a little crazy sometimes, but I'm glad he's still sitting at the head of our table.

Of course, May never goes by without me remembering my fairy tale wedding in 1982. I believe marriage should last forever, but too often these days, it doesn't. The 15th would've been our 34th wedding anniversary. I still mourn my broken family circle. 

On the 19th, I hosted a dinner at my house, celebrating my niece's upcoming birthday. Shelaine holds a special place in my heart, and I'm proud of the woman she's become.

Yesterday, I left work and drove straight to Miss Arabella, my adorable grand niece. She makes the shadows disappear for a while, and I couldn't love her more. Although she usually does a double-take between me and her Memaw (my identical twin), I think she fully understands now that the two aren't one. ☺ I'm so glad she's in the neighborhood, and I know we'll be seeing lots of each other as time goes by.

And that brings us to now. Outside my window, rain falls in loud splashes onto the sidewalk. I had considered a little getaway during the long weekend, but if the weather doesn't take a turn, I'll probably stay home and hang out in my pjs.

If anybody is still reading, I hope your May has been beautiful. Life is so very fragile, and can change drastically with a phone call, or even an email. Unwrap each moment with care, and hug tightly those you love. ♦