Friday, January 13, 2017

The Miracle that Wasn't

Maybe it was the mother and father cradling the lifeless baby in their arms, hot tears streaming, as the words of the doctor echoed in their hearts "I'm sorry, there was nothing more we could do".
But why, they wondered. We prayed. We believed.  We had faith! Why?

Or maybe it was that night when the phone ringing clattered the silence of sleep, and cold dread filled the heart of the one who answered as the voice on the other end, said "I'm so sorry...", the news crippling the heart with pain and sorrow in a moment.

Or maybe it was a cold sterile examining room where the doctor's diagnosis with the "c" word filled the room with deafening heartache, and the words, "I'm sorry..." don't feel very sorry at all.

Or maybe it was the day the door slammed shut, and the one you loved left you for the arms of someone else, with your dreams and hopes for a perfect life dying a horrible death with the slamming of that door.

Or maybe it was the dream job you had that got eliminated in the company's restructuring... or maybe it was the home you loved and had precious memories in, that burned to the ground in a terrible moment of destruction.... or maybe it is the job that you feel stuck in, with no hope of change... or a child who has caused untold heartache and sorrow in the hearts of the parents...

or maybes.... this list could go on and on... this cold aching list of moments in life that will never be forgotten, burned deep into the memory of hearts that were forever changed by the moment of the 'miracle that wasn't'.

You may wonder where this post could be going, 
but I hope you'll continue reading, 

because I have a deep message of hope to share.

You see, the Lord began dealing with my heart a couple of months ago, and it happened in a simple enough fashion... I began reading in the book of Genesis towards the end of December, and as I've slowly read each story heralded there, each story seemed to have me asking the question "why"?

Why did Leah have to endure such heartache, through no fault of her own, given to a man whose heart was with her sister, and the heartache that came because of her father's choice to deceive Jacob in the marriage.  Why?

Hagar, faithful to her mistress Sarah, found only heartache and sorrow after being given as a concubine to Abraham, and upon bearing him a son, was despised by the women she had served faithfully for years, through no fault of her own.  Why?

And then all of my "why" questions lead me back to Eve, the mother of us all.  Why did she make the choice she did?  Couldn't the Lord have stepped in and helped her to see the trick of the enemy?  Why did He not?

As I pondered these deep questions, the answer to "why" became quite clear.

The Lord could have stepped in time and time again to answer the cries of those who called out.  He could have performed miracle after miracle, but He didn't.

He chose not to.  

Why? Because His plan extended much farther than just that moment in time.  His plan would take years to come about, but events had to fall into place, because of HIS PLAN.

I think this may be one of the hardest posts I've ever written.  It is because with our human frailty, it is hard to understand this:

 Pain and suffering come to us for a good purpose, and not bad.  

In that dark moment of pain, heartache and loss,
we cannot even begin to comprehend
how God could take our horrible situation,
and turn it into something greater.  

But this is the simple answer that God wants me to know.. 
and He wants you to know it too.

When we pray for that miracle, and God is silent, it hurts.  Really hurts.

If your prayers feel like they are hitting the roof, and that God seems uncaring, and unwilling to intervene in your situation... let me reassure you... He is not.  He may just have a PLAN that you can't see or understand right now.  And it may be, that miracle you are crying out for... may be one that will never be.

Despair may seem like your closest companion, the silence and the darkness may seem to be a deafening witness to hopelessness of your situation.

But hold on, dear friend.  May I offer you great hope?

It is in these dark hours of despair, that the presence of the Lord comes to us, enveloping us in His embrace, and there is a painful bittersweet joy in these times, like no other.  The joy of His presence cannot be known like this except in these times of suffering.  It's true.

We pray for the anointing, for the presence of the Lord, for peace, for joy, for happiness, for hope, for faith... for all these things.  And we want these things in the only way our human hearts know - without any negatives, without any sorrow attached to it.

But my friend, it is not to be so.

Take any bible story that is familiar to you.  We see the victory, the glory, the joy in the end, but did you read the story from beginning to end?  Did you see that the beginning of every.single.story contains the bittersweet companions of both joy and sorrow.

Think of Daniel and the lion's den. We love to hear how the Lord saved him from the mouth of the lions.  But remember what happened before the miracle? I'm sure Daniel felt sure he would die that night as he was thrown into the den with the lions.  Surely God should have answered Daniel's prayers and saved him from that imminent fate!  Why did He not? Because... He had a greater purpose in mind. A far greater miracle took place with Daniel being saved from the lions, than if God had simply averted the whole situation and stopped it from happening.

Do you see the pattern here?  Please, stop a moment, and think of any glorious bible story you know of, while thinking of the great and miraculous, do you remember the haunting, horrible, terrible moments of pain beforehand... before there were the miracles that weren't, but because God had a greater plan, a greater miracle takes place later, and never on our time schedule!

I am writing this simply because it is what the Lord has been speaking to my heart as I've read through the book of Genesis this past couple of months.  And I can attest, that in my life too,  there have been times when I prayed for the Lord to intervene, and He hasn't.  In some circumstances, He still hasn't.  I'm still praying.  I don't understand or claim to know His plan.

But this one thing I know... just because God says no, or your "answer" doesn't come when you think it should, this doesn't mean He doesn't care.  It could just be the "miracle that wasn't", because He has a far greater one in store for you.  My simple human eyes can't see it or comprehend it, but His do.  His eyes are eternal.  He sees the end from the beginning at once, and His scope of time knows no limitations, while mine does.  And too, our earthly body may never see the miracle He has planned.

Leah, in the midst of her heartache, may never have known that through her son Judah would come the lineage of Christ.  She lived a life of heartache and sorrow, and perhaps in her earthly body, she never got to see just what the Lord had planned through her heartache and sorrow.

I've really said nothing new, or that you probably haven't heard before.  But maybe you just needed to hear it again.  I know I did.  I don't know what the Lord has planned for my life ~ I can't see it spread out before me as He does.  But one thing I do know... is that HE KNOWS.  And if there is a 'miracle that wasn't' in my life, I'm confident that His plan is the best for me.  And I content myself in that.

I have the whole of the Bible before me to say "I told you so", and I look forward, past today, to the place that the Lord has for me, for you, for all of us.  And I will praise Him now for the Miracle that Will Be.... whatever it is.

Praise for the Lord will fill my heart and soul because of WHO He is, and because I know He has our best interests in mind, and that contents me.

Is there a situation in your life that you have prayed and prayed for, only to come up empty, sorrowful, and without any hope?  I encourage you today to place that need in the "Miracle that Wasn't" box, and instead begin to look to the Lord with hope that whatever the "Miracle that Will Be" is, that you will be content, and will praise Him.  It is the answer to my question of "why" that is found answered all throughout scripture.  And if it worked in times past for the saints of old, it will work for you and me too.

And even as it seems Leah never found the happiness she deserved, when Judah came along, she made a decision to praise, and THAT child was the lineage through which Jesus came.  You see, when she stopped trying to get what she thought she deserved, and began to praise... THAT is when her answer came, the answer she had been seeking.  And that is the secret to all of this seeking and searching.

Some things we may never, ever understand in our humanity. But when we praise HIM in spite of it, that is when the answer will come.  The Word is true.  The answer is in our attitude and our praise. The Miracle that Will Be comes when we praise, and let Him work as He will.

It's a hard lesson to learn, yes it is.  But I've tried it, and I've found it to be true.  When your heartache is filling a deep fathom of hurt and darkness, try to do what Leah did, and see if your well will not spill over with the blessing of the Lord, in places where you least expect it, it will come.

Because He is the God that has chosen pain and suffering as the avenue to bless us with, and when we understand that, there will come a joy, peace, and contentment to your heart such as you have never known before.

Praise Him now, for the Miracle that Wasn't, and for the Miracle that Will Be!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Bright Winter Days

The kind and wonderful comments and emails from each one of you who have prayed and left comforting words for us with the passing of my dear husband's father are so appreciated.  His mother is doing really well, considering. They both had been in a nursing home, mostly because he was so ill that she couldn't keep up the care for him at home, and she didn't want to leave him alone, so she and him shared a room there.  She has had some health scares recently as well, and she is still weak from an episode she had back in December.  However, she is planning to go back home, even though the family is worried about how she will manage.  She is a strong and determined woman, and she tells me that she has been making laps around the nursing home, trying to get strong enough to leave.  We are praying that the Lord will work out all the details for her in this transition period of her life, with so many hard decisions, and moments to walk through.  Thanks to all again who prayed for our family during this time, it really meant so much!

Here in North Idaho, we are full into the dead of winter, yet even with all the snow we have gotten, there is a glorious beauty about it all that does not feel "dead" at all to me, in fact, everything is bright, beautiful and glorious.

Mornings are always a special joy, to see the sun laboriously make its climb into the horizon, and this particular morning, the show was grand.

My sleeping garden under the thick carpet of snow...

The purple and orange-hued clouds danced with their brilliance, the show just lasting a minute or two.

Long enough for me to run back inside to get my camera, and get a few quick pictures.  When the skies put on this display, you don't dilly-dally... but I wouldn't be dilly-dallying outside anyway... the temps when I took this picture were -8 below.... brr!

In fact I didn't know if my camera was up to the cold either, but it didn't let me down!

My early morning chores include rousing the chickens from the roost.  With the temps so very bitterly cold, they are not too eager to get moving either.  I don't blame them a bit.  Even with the heat lamp in the coop, the temps were still very cold in there for them.

Watchful Momma Deer and her crew skim the perimeter of the yard, they are quite knowledgeable of the dogs' territory, and stay a good distance beyond it.

I've been throwing corn out for the deer and the turkeys, and I think they appreciate my efforts.

A peek of our house, with the driveway plowed again.  We got close to another foot of snow over the weekend.

Winter in all its glory, this is the part of winter I love the best ~ cold, clear, brisk, and glorious.

The sky couldn't make up its mind today whether to be overcast or sunny... happily for me, the sunshine won out for most of the day.

Each post with its own unique snow topper.

Snow topper views...

A lovely picturesque winter scene... notice how the fence is quite buried in the snow...

We've been having regular visitors to the chicken coop that have become a problem.  The turkeys are desperate for food, and seem to think I should be feeding them too.  The hens will have none of it.  They chase off this turkey again and again.

Finally I call in Annie, and she comes running, and the turkey makes her departure.

Quite pleased with her efforts, wouldn't you say!

Won't you have a seat in such a lovely cool spot!

The varying warm (20s) and cold (below 0) temps we are having are causing huge icicles to form along the roofs.

Annie and Roger stay quite busy dealing with the turkey population we have gathered round us. I feed the turkeys beyond the reach of the dogs, but that doesn't stop the turkeys from trying to hang out around the bird feeders whenever they can.

I feel like I'm walking through a snow cave as I leave the house to walk to the chicken coop, with all the snow piled high from the driveway being plowed.

A pensive Annie... as she watches our Watchful Momma Deer from a distance.  She and Annie know each other quite well... lol!

We have had such beautiful days of snow-shine around here, that it is hard to stay inside, and Annie and I have gone on long walks together, to get outside and enjoy the beauty around us.  There is something so invigorating with the cold crisp air, and the bright sunlight bouncing off the snow that lifts the spirit and heart.  I've grieved the passing of my dear father-in-law, especially since I was not able to attend his funeral, but the glorious days of snow-shine have done their part to heal the sadness we feel with his passing, and for that I am grateful.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Beginning This Year with a Loss

We traveled to a warmer climate for the Christmas holidays, and spent the days with family and friends.  The temps were warmer than usual while we were there, and I don't think we even once wore a coat or jacket while we were there!  A special time was had with all those who we visited with. In fact, we had no idea just how special those times would be to us, now just a few days later.

Returning home was a bit of a temperature shock as we arrived late in the evening at the airport, and found quite a bit of snow on our vehicle awaiting us and below zero temperatures.  We had received close to 2 feet of snow while we were gone!  After coming from 80 degree weather, yes, it was a bit of a temperature shock! But we were mentally prepared for it, and I really couldn't wait to see all the snow that we had received.

Thankfully our vehicle was easily cleaned off, and we made it home safely.

When we arrived home, we were not able to get in our driveway and had to park in a neighbor's yard for the night.  We were aware of the amount of snow we had received, and our friend who was to plow our driveway had his vehicle break down, so we knew that the problem existed before we got home. As you can see, the next morning, as we got up, the sun was shining, and it was the most beautiful sight to see.

My garden, now completely covered in a thick white blanket of snow.

Just a little idea of how much snow we had gotten, piled up on the lid of my winterized compost pile a.k.a. a trash can.

A dear neighbor came over and offered to plow our driveway for us.  We were working on getting the tractor started, and this lessened that load as this was one less thing that needed done.  The roofs needed shoveling due to the weight of the snow that had been received while we were gone.

 Shoveling off the roof of our storage trailer.

... and the roof of my new greenhouse...  We use a long snow rake to remove the snow.

My little greenhouse, now almost completely bundled in snow.

Cleaning off the roof of the chicken coop...

Swoosh!  Such fun!

Our wonderful and amazing neighbor showed up to plow our driveway for us.  What a blessing that was!

A tree stump decorated with a topping of snow.

Annie-girl, quite happy to be walking in the path we had carved out in the snow, lol!

So, we were just settling into being back home and getting things unpacked, while dealing with such things as replacing the mailbox that the snowplow had taken out, my van that had suddenly decided it didn't want to start, as well as the tractor not wanting to start (due to the extreme cold we have had this week down to 15 below zero for several nights) -  when I received a call from my precious mother-in-love telling us that "Daddy" (my husband's father) wasn't doing well at all.  His condition has been deteriorating for the last several months, but none of us expected that it would be this sudden.  An hour later, he had passed, quietly, peacefully, with my dear mother-in-law by his side, holding his hand.  We had spent a wonderful Christmas with them both, having no idea that his passing would happen so soon. Precious memories of our time with them comforted our hearts as we praised the Lord that we had the special time with them this year, not even knowing that it would be our last moments spent with him, and so we grieve for the loss of his passing, and the hole that his presence leaves in the family.

Due to the expense of the flight, and having just been there, it was decided that only my husband would be there for the funeral.  The funeral will be Saturday.  Our hearts are grieving his loss, and wishing we could be there to share this time of sorrow with the family and my dear mother-in-law who, for the last 56 years of her married life has loved and cared for him, and is deeply missing the loss of his presence in her life.

We are reminded as this New Year begins so eventfully, that life is so short, and that each memory and time spent with loved ones, is precious, and very special.  I remember taking some videos of our time with my husband's parents, not even realizing just how soon that time would be when those videos would be precious memories there for us to remember him by.

So today, hug your loved ones, love each one deeply and cherish the moments spent with them.  Life passes so quickly, just like the short dash between the date of our birth and death.  While this New Year for us has come bringing with it sorrow and grieving, yet I know that the Lord's hand is with us all, and we are comforted in His care.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Silent Joy of the Days Before

The days before the day when families gather to celebrate the birth of the Lord, are busy days for most. So many preparation taking place that involve food, gifts, gatherings and traditions.

It is always good to take some time away from the busy moments, to stop, reflect, and give thanks.

These two know nothing about the season of hustle and bustle.  Their world is much simpler.

Life is quite simple for my hens too, for these days there is not much to do.  I coax them out of the coop with some straw, and some of them venture out.

But it is not long before they are back in the run, preferring to scratch dirt rather than snow.  Cold feet are not fun!

Beautiful winter sunsets abound....

Snow covered roads make travel more exciting.

Orange flecked golden glows from the sun lightens up the pines.

Rosy sunsets over still waters, and an empty park bench.

Snow's cold embrace beckons me to look for signs of uninterrupted beauty.

So still, so quiet, so tranquil.

Bright red berries set against the backdrop of the white snow are stunning.

In the minus temperatures, our turkey friends huddle.

Frigid air mixing with less frigid air... creating billowy fog drifts along the river.

Native grasses shrouded in hoary frost wave in the stiff polar breeze.

The breath of polar arctic cold takes on a new dimensions along the river.

The frozen pond, silent today.  The remaining geese in our area have no doubt found open water to glide in.

As I ponder the stillness, the quiet, and the beauty around me, I think of all the busyness of this season and how it pulls you away from the calm joy found here.

I hope you will make time to pause, stop and let the beauty of the season wash your soul with its gentle peace, joy and love that it was meant to be.  The greatest gift the Lord has wrought for us began in in a simple cold place.  As I visit my chickens, I cannot imagine how Mary felt, birthing the Lord in such a place, no doubt in the cold, with the smell of the animals, and in her heart, the heartache too - the uncertainty of what all this must mean.

And yet, somehow in that cold difficult night when Jesus was born, hope came to the world, joy resounded from the lips of the angels, and Mary cuddled little Jesus tighter, holding onto his warmth, and wondering.

Today, I still wonder... such tender love, and the miracle of it all.  God, who created me, born in a cold lonely manger... to show how much He loved me, and how He was willing to do all this for all of mankind.

Stop and ponder it today, feel the hope, the peace, and the joy that was brought into this world because of the love our Lord Jesus has for you.  My prayer for you is much like the Apostle Paul's prayer below, that the blessings of the Lord would be rich in your life, that His presence would be powerful beyond measure, and that you would grow in the increase and knowledge of who HE is in this coming year.

Ephesians 1:15-22 
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, 
and love unto all the saints, 
Cease not to give thanks for you, 
making mention of you in my prayers; 
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, 
may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 
The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; 
that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, 
and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, 
according to the working of his mighty power, 
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, 
and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 
Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, 
and every name that is named, 
not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 
And hath put all things under his feet, 
and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.


Dear friends, I am taking a bit of a blogging break, and will see you here, the Lord willing, in January 2017.  Merry Christmas, and a Blessed New Year!