Friday, January 10, 2020

When the blush is off the rose.




Yesterday would have been my mother's 95th birthday. It's hard to believe that on the 13th of next month she will have been gone two years. It seems like yesterday that we were experiencing life together, sharing memories, taking meandering drives, and watching classic movies. Shopping trips were a challenge, but fun. 

While moving Mom to Ashley Manor, her last home, I found a rose pressed between the pages of her Bible. It was part of a bouquet she'd received on her 90th birthday. The blush was off the rose, only a shadow of its former beauty remained. I held it to my nose, and the fragrance still lingered. Memories of Mom's birthday and whispers of the past swept in like an ocean wave.

I wish I still had that rose. Yes, it was just a flower, but it stood for so much more. In her final days, Mom was like that rose ... the blush was definitely off, but she was still lovely - the essence of who she was seemed to grow more beautiful with each passing day. 

I look back through the years and as my mind flits through her life I am reminded of how she continued to bloom. She wasn't one of those loud, vibrant flowers, she was more subtle, quietly changing and maturing, the fragrance of her inner spirit growing sweeter with the passage of time.

When Mom was entering her 70's I remember her saying more than once, "I look in a mirror and wonder where that old woman came from." She'd chuckle, but I wondered what that would be like. Now I know. I am the one looking in a mirror and wondering where the old woman looking back at me came from. I admit that I don't like the image, but when I think of my mother and the rose pressed between the pages of her Bible I am reminded that a transformation is happening and yet, the essence of who I am is still vibrant and blooming.


It takes years to mature. Some people never have the privilege of experiencing a long life and so as I approach my 68th birthday I know I am blessed to see an old woman in my mirror. I pray the fragrance of who I am will be all about the Lord and His love for me. I am blooming still, only because of Him. 

As each day passes may I remain thankful. Even though my body grows old may my heart become more tender and my spirit more fragrant.

Thank you, Mom, for being a living example of graciousness and beauty.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie


Friday, December 20, 2019

Merciful God





In early June of this year an inner clock was set off in my head and in my heart, as it has been for the last two summers. In June of 2017 I got a call from my sister and she told me she had been diagnosed with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. She said, "Do not look it up online." But of course I did. The prognosis was bad, but I hoped for better.

And then the clock ticked on into November, as we approached the holiday season. I couldn't push aside the memories of my sister's battle - excruciating days for Myrn and all who loved her. 

And now as we approach December 22 the day is coming - the anniversary of my sister's death. And I can't help but think, If only she were still here.

I cry easily these days. She is close to me all the time, but not close enough ... for a chat, shared prayers, or a hug. Every night I tell her I love her, cry a little, and then I tell her goodnight.

So, why am I sharing this? It's been two years. I shouldn't be missing her so much, right? Who can say how long grief will linger. My father died when I was only 23 and I still miss him, and grieve the many years we didn't get to share.

It seems to me that mankind was not created for this kind of loss. God gave us a perfect and eternal life, and then we messed it up. In our selfish demanding way we accepted the lie of the enemy and rebelled against God. And now we pay the price.

But God is not without mercy. He sent a Redeemer, Jesus Christ. And as the day approaches to celebrate His birth, I am reminded that God made a way for us. I miss my loved ones who have already moved to heaven, but I am promised there will be a grand reunion one day. Praise God for His goodness. We don't deserve such mercy and love, but He offers it anyway.

The only catch is that we need to reach out and accept the gift. We have to set aside our own arrogant pride and determination to have things our way and say, "Yes. I believe. Father, please accept me into your family." Immediately God pulls us into His arms and holds us close. He will never let go.

What follows our decision will be unique for each of us. There will be trials as well as great and beautiful moments, even triumphant moments. It won't necessarily be easy to walk the path God chooses for us, but we are promised that He will join us on our journey and in the end welcome us home.

Today I mourn my sister's absence and so many others, but my heart is comforted because I know our farewell is not forever. I remember her rejoicing over all the precious moments we shared and I look forward to our joyful reunion.

I pray for all of you who grieve and whose grief is intensified during the holiday season. It's okay to weep. But in your sorrow reach out to The One who promises to one day wipe away every tear. He will comfort you.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

A New Christmas

In years past there were so many things about Christmas that I loved being a part of. I have many wonderful memories - Caroling with family and friends, trudging through mountain snow in search of the perfect tree, baking all sorts of goodies with my family, Christmas shopping, and of course decorating the tree.

These days it's not quite the same. I'm older, much older, and some of the delights of the past are just too difficult for me to do now. But the memories are precious and I've discovered new beauty in this winter season of life. I still do a little baking, and this year I wore myself out by doing almost all of my shopping in local stores. It was worth it, though. I loved the displays, and being able to choose just the right gifts for my loved ones. But there were very few Christmas cards sent and I let my husband pick out our tree with our daughter's help. And sledding? No way. 

However, I've spent extra time with my family, some of that remotely since my son and his family live in France now, and I'll be watching several traditional movies. Christmas carols and hymns have filled my home with nostalgia and spiritual renewal. I am looking forward to Christmas Eve services with my church family. This year it will be the highlight of my season - a time to reflect and rejoice about the coming of our Savior, which is really what this season is all about.



Christmas holiday fun has changed through the years, but Christmas is still a precious time to remember loved ones, some who have graduated to heaven, and those who are still here to celebrate with me. It is a time to remember the most incredible birth ever on this planet. The birth of Christ, the son of God, our Redeemer in the flesh.

It's easy to get caught up in all the merrymaking and forget the reason for our rejoicing. I hope you will take time to reflect on Christ and how amazing it is to be included in God's family.

Merry Christmas.

Bonnie

Monday, December 02, 2019

Turning North





I am weeping as I write and I wept as I read this devotional this morning. These are not my words, but they are my heart. From the book, Embraced by Lysa TerKeurst.

Turning North

    We all have messes in our lives. Financial messes. Relationship messes. Health Messes. Kid messes. Home messes. Business messes. Messes that leave us feeling stuck. Like we may be stranded in this place of upheaval and unrest forever.
    I can't help but think about the people of Israel as they were wandering through the desert. We read in the book of Deuteronomy about how they were stuck in a mess with no end in sight. God had miraculously set them free from the oppression and bondage of slavery in Egypt. But their unwillingness to fully trust Him and their blatant refusal to take possession of the promised land landed them in quite a mess. A forty-year, desert-wandering mess.
    In Deuteronomy 2, Moses reminds them of a time when they had been stuck circling the same mountain for too long. God spoke into their wandering and let them know it was time to head in a new direction. 

The Lord said to me, "You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north."
Deuteronomy 2:2 - 3

    It was a pivotal moment for them to remember. One where they had faced a life-changing choice. They could stay stuck, endlessly circling the same old place, or they could choose hope and head in a new direction with the Lord.
    They could turn north.
    I think this is the perfect time to pause and ask God if there is anywhere we need to "turn north" in our own lives. Have we been circling the same messes for years and years with no end in sight? Are there areas we know we need to change but we feel like it will require too much sacrifice?
    Here's a question we can ask ourselves right in the midst of our messes ...
    Am I letting this mess define me or refine me?
    The answer to this question is crucial.
    If I am letting a mess define me, I will feel hopeless.
    If I am letting a mess refine me, I will be hopeful.
    If the Israelites had looked at their forty-year track record of aimless wandering and defined themselves as rebellious failures, they would have lost all hope and kept right on circling. But because they embraced the correction and redirection of the Lord, they were able to turn around and move toward His promises with hope firmly planted in their hearts.
    It's time for our messes to stop defining us.
    It's time to embrace the refining process and turn north.
    So how do we begin to turn north? We replace our old thoughts with empowering truths from God's Word. I call them "Go-To Scripts." In other words, these statements can become our new patterns of thought. And these new patterns of thought will empower us for a new way of living.
    Here are some of my favorite "Go-To Scripts" for turning north.

    1. I was made for more than to be stuck in a vicious cycle or defeat. Deuteronomy 2:3, "You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north."
    2.  When tempted, I either remove the temptation or remove myself from the situation. I Corinthians 10:13-14, "God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee.."
    3. I don't have to worry about letting God down, because I was never holding him up - God's grace is sufficient. 2 Corinthians 12:9-11. "He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness ... for when I am weak, then I am strong."

    May we hear the Father's voice, filled with grace and free from any hint of condemnation, declaring over us today, "It's time to turn north, beloved." And may we be found turning toward Him and moving forward with Him.

__________


It is not customary for me to share an entire devotional from a book I'm reading, but today it seemed right. I hope this has blessed you. Take it with you and feel the love and grace of God, and live your life with hope.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie
    
    

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Not About Thanksgiving






I'm part of the "baby-boomer" generation and feel blessed to have been born when I was. Childhood came with the usual and even not so usual challenges, but for the most part it was full of fun and adventure.

As children, my sister and I could spend hours playing, together, with our Barbie dolls. We came up with all sorts of dramas. And of course Ken was part of the tale. I think the Ken doll belonged to me. Back then, Barbie was controversial.

My brothers and sisters and the kids in the neighborhood spent a lot of time playing together. If it was raining, which it often was in Kent, Washington, we'd play board games or games like "Hide the Thimble", or my sisters and I would spend an afternoon creating colorful outfits for our paper dolls. How many of you remember paper dolls? 

When the bad weather moved on we'd head outdoors where we challenged each other in baseball, tug of war, or hide and seek. There was also bike-riding, swimming, horse back riding, tag and games of Red Light - Green Light or Mother May I.

It was good healthy fun. We spent a lot of time with other youngsters, learning to live in a sometimes rough and tumble world. I remember a night time game of hide and seek where a neighbor boy sprinted across the field and then disappeared right in front of me when he fell into a deep pit (future basement of a house under construction). I nearly followed him in, but managed to leap across the corner of the pit at the last second. 

In the midst of the game-playing we learned about fairness, conflict resolution, competition and acceptance of defeat. It was fun and it was good for us.

So much has changed. These days, the young generation walks around with some sort of device in their hands, or they sit in a room alone communicating with someone via text, or playing a game where the opponent is a computer. It breaks my heart to think about all this generation and the upcoming generation is missing. They are being robbed of a real childhood by money-making tech companies and moms and dads who allow technology to babysit their kids.

This new technology was first presented as a helpful tool and at first that's all it was. But we have a wily enemy who knows how to use the tool as a weapon, a way to separate people and keep them alone. And he uses technology to expose our youngsters to things they shouldn't know about and absolutely should never see. We welcomed this weapon into our homes. And even now, I am engaging in the technology to share this message.

Is it all bad? No. Of course not. There are parts of this new technological world that I enjoy and appreciate, but if I had the power to step back and keep it from infiltrating our world I would. Yikes! Yep, it's true. Please don't hate me. :-) 

There are safeguards, if only parents will use them. And parents, one of your roles, is to protect your little ones. The Lord placed you in that position. You can do it. Many of you are (Way to go). If you're having trouble saying "no" to your kids, dig down and find the courage. They will thank you later.  

And then, get them outdoors, engaging with other kids in our big, beautiful world. There is so much for them to discover. Jump in with them.

The next time you look around the room and see that the people in your life are all staring at their phones, help them make another choice, at least for an hour or two. Put those devices away and do something else. 

Have some real fun. 

And may you all have a  blessed and happy Thanksgiving. I'm going to pull out some old fashioned board games. 

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Best Things in Life






Some of the best parts of our life are the simple things. Sometimes I get to thinking that if only I could do something spectacular, like make a trip to Paris or be part of the crowd in Times Square on New Years Eve that life would be better. But that's not true. Of course those things would be fun, but life is made up mostly of the simple things. We just need to remember how much they mean to us.



A few weeks ago I heard about a musical production that a friend of mine, Kristen Johnson, was part of. It sounded like fun. However, in order to attend it meant that my husband and I would have to travel four hours north to Vancouver, Washington. I'm the kind of person who likes to plan events way in advance so this would mean I'd have to be spontaneous. But, since my husband and I had recently decided that we needed to do more fun spontaneous events this seemed a perfect way to jump off into a less structured lifestyle.

So, a week later we loaded up our travel trailer and hit the road. 




Once we arrived in Vancouver we stayed in a rather non-spectacular RV park, but it had the basic necessities. After a short rest we dressed for the show and headed to a place called Beacock Music. It was the most spectacular music store I've ever seen. On the upper floor they had a small theater for musical productions.


We settled into our seats, not sure what to expect, but glad we had come. The program was heart-warming and impressive! There was a small band, Kristen Johnson, who played the part of Patsy Cline and Laurie Campbell-Leslie who stepped into the role of Patsy Cline's friend. She was perfect - talented and so funny.

The production was extremely well done and the actors and musicians were extraordinary. Kristen sang twenty-one of Patsy Cline's songs. What a lovely and powerful voice she has. I had no idea she was so gifted.

We laughed and cheered and even cried. By the time the play concluded my face hurt from smiling so much.

We had the best time and it didn't require taking a plane to Paris or standing among crowds in Times Square. We only needed to look around at the fun and talent in our own part of the world, and then be willing to get out and enjoy.

Life can be wearisome if we get stuck in a rut of "do-nothingness". As we age, it takes more effort to explore and taste life. But it's not as hard as it may seem. There is a lot to enjoy in our own back yards. 

Greg and I were gone only a couple of nights, but we were left with memories that will last a life time.

Thank you Kristen and all those who took part in the production, which was a fund raiser for local music programs. I know it required many hours of rehearsal and lots of hard work, but what a blessing for all those who attended, like Greg and me. 





I only got to spend a few minutes with my friend, Kristen, but we did manage to get in a hug and a photo. God bless you for warming my heart.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie



Monday, November 04, 2019

Christians and Politics?






From time to time I post political news or commentary on my Facebook page. I did just that a few days ago. The heated and ongoing discussion sparked this blog. 

As I read through the comments I felt sorrow, disappointment, anger, and pride. There were mean comments written to intentionally hurt an opponent, lies intentionally written to malign someone's character, plus well stated arguments on both sides, and sadly all kinds of evil statements cast about to create destruction.

We people are divided, angry and determined to have our way. We have forgotten that we don't have to agree to be agreeable. We've forgotten that it's okay to disagree. And we've forgotten that we are stronger when we stand together, if not in ideology then at least in purpose. 

I'm a passionate thinking person. And I believe in speaking up about ideas and beliefs I hold dear, and that includes politics. It's not a thing I take lightly. When I post something on my page, especially when I know it might stir up controversy I try to present thoughts with clarity and accuracy It's not always easy to accomplish and I often fall short of my goal. There is so much misinformation "out there" that it's easy to be deceived. And yet, I am compelled to step into the fray from time to time.

When any of us does this, we are sticking out our necks. It's an emotional risk. We can almost count on getting piled on. It can get so bad that we vow - never again. But then there is that tug of the Holy Spirit saying, "speak up, but remember you represent The Father." 

I don't want to become what I detest - a reckless and malicious finger-pointer. May God forgive me when I allow weakness to draw me into such a despicable state.

I sometimes wonder what God thinks when he watches our wobbly efforts to share truth. He sees the larger picture, of course, and I'm sure many times he shakes his head and wishes we wouldn't get so riled up. Certainly, he is sometimes disappointed in us. But that does not mean he wants us to be apathetic or too fearful to stand up for truth and for one another.

There are those who believe we should never get involved in political discussions or causes. I don't agree. Believers have a duty to stand for what is good and right. God's Word gives us cause and permission to do so. I'm not trying to guilt anyone into doing something they do not believe they are called to do. We each must choose for ourselves. But I know there are many who remain silent, some who are gifted and who care enough to take their place in the political field or to become part of the press. We need more voices. 

At the very least we all need to pray, especially for our leaders. If we are praying for someone, it will be more difficult to hate them. First Timothy 2:1-4 says, I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests plead for God's mercy upon them, and give thanks. Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, for he wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.

These are powerful words. How different the world would be if we committed to pray for one another and our leaders every day, and pleaded for God's mercy to be upon them.There is such earnestness in the word plead. 

The Lord hears our prayers. He wants us to live in peace and godliness. 

When we pray we are better able to speak with dignity and fairness, with strength and clarity, remaining respectful. When I am in the midst of a passionate exchange I must intentionally slow down and ask God what I should or should not say. Still, I sometimes fail miserably, but I won't give up.  

We need to be a positive influence in our world. And as difficult as it is to do, we are to place ourselves under the authority of those God has chosen to lead. 

But we are first to obey God. A clear example is in  Acts 4:18-19. So they called the apostles back in and told them never again to speak or teach about Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard."  

I love the statement, We cannot stop. I want to have that kind of heart.

We are able to remain steady in the midst of political storms. We are in the midst of one now. Daniel 2:21 says, He determines the course of world events; removes kings and sets others on the throne. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.

God has a plan.

May we encourage and pray for one another. God knows the beginning and the end of all things. We do not need to fear. 

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

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