Archives for posts with tag: forgiveness

leaf in water

“Let go of the past, and the past will let go of you…”

Cool quote. Not sure who it’s by. But cool, powerful quote.

“Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
“Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:18-19

 

“I will do something new, Now it will spring forth…Will you not be aware of it?”

Tough to be aware of what’s ahead, what’s in front of us, when we’re looking in the past…in the rearview mirror of our lives, so to speak. When moving forward, it’s important not to be looking behind or accidents can happen. Yep, when moving forward, it’s important to be aware of what’s behind, but to be focused on where we’re going, not where we’ve been. Forward Steps. Not backward.

Gotta leave behind the old to get to the new. Leaves fall when trees let go. What makes them let go?  Gotta make room for the new, get rid of the old, before we can add more new.  Cool how the old,…the crunchy leaves soon turn to soft, and soon become a part of the soil. They soon become a part of the nutrients that feed the tree.

Yep, past is past, it’s there…it can remind us, feed us, fuel us with knowledge, wisdom, gratefulness and grace. But have you ever tried to keep, to hold onto a beautiful leaf?  It doesn’t stay beautiful…it fades and becomes dust. If we live in the past and try to  focus on and hold onto our little leaves of the past, we are left with a perspective that keeps us at bay and offers…dust. But if we let go, and let those leaves fall, yes, they become part of us, part of that soil that feeds in a good way.

I love how scripture speaks of the God who makes all things new. Redeems. Forgives. God grants hope that moves beyond the now to the what’s to come. A God that encourages us to remember, but not be held by former things. A God, who like moving waters of a river, calls us to move forward, to catch a ride with Him. Not stay in one place, for waters that do that quickly become stagnant. And stagnant is not good. It stinks. Literally and figuratively, it just stinks. Waters aren’t meant to be kept still. Not in streams, not in oceans, not in us. The heart that beats within us is constantly keeping our blood circulating, moving forward, and becoming full of life-giving oxygen with each beat.  The movement of that flow stops, then so do we…

But back to my little leaf metaphor 🙂 .  Leave behind the old, bring on the new. May the leaves be a reminder of the beauty of the past, but the letting go of it and the moving on toward the new. There’s a quote that I’ve seen a lot this fall and it’s beautiful. It says, “The trees are about to show us how beautiful it is to let things go.”  Yep. Definitely. In trees, and in me.

And like with trees, sometimes there’s a dormant season where you feel a little bare and don’t see the beauty of the new quite yet.  But it’s coming. Sometimes there’s just a little time to regroup, rest, and just be before the new comes swooping on in. And after winter of seeing gray and bare branches in the cold,  I know I sure appreciate the newness and beauty of Spring a lot more than if it had just marched on in right after the leaves left. Sometimes it’s good to get back to basics before the new comes….and then we appreciate and are ready for the new  so much more.

Just a few thoughts on leaves, the past, and the God who makes all things New.  Wonder what new things are in store? Wanna let go of the old to have open hands and heart to ‘be aware of ‘ that new thing. So here’s to Fall, and letting go, and believing that Spring is on it’s way.

DSCN4656

Blessings~

Heather

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11 

 

like water4.JPG

I wish that a gently falling rain

Could quietly wash away your pain

And leave a newness and relief

A renewal, deep sense of peace

Wish that as water rinses clean

You’d just be washed and yes, redeemed

Wish that a gently falling rain

Was merely all that it would take

But how this pain seeps deep within

And takes root, this hold, this sin

It lingers, grows, and goes beyond

The surface, and takes hold, a  hold so strong

So maybe more than gentle rain

We need a storm to unleash this pain

To loose the dirt settled deep within

to loose the chains held strong, this sin

So I attempt to not fear the storms

And the churning that may come

For to be washed and clean and whole

Is worth the trials to be endured

We dip our feet in, dip our toes

But we need immersion of our souls

So fear not, friend, immersion brings

A welling up of life, a spring

Within the soul, within the mind

Within the heart that longs to find

A peace so deep, a grace so real

A Presence of the God who draws near

For like water to the soul

Oh how God’s love will cleanse and know

the one who seeks to know His grace

The one who seeks the Lord’s face

For like water in wells so deep

The love of God is ours to keep

To wash our souls from head to toe

Like gentle rains or storms that blow

For like water to our souls

The love of Christ plants seeds

of Hope

For those with pain too deep to know,

May the love of Christ be

like water to their  souls.

 

Psalm 51

“…wash me and I will be whiter than snow…”

Photo taken at the Broad River Greenway, Boiling Springs, North Carolina

 

 

 

 

 

commonground

So, my son’s birthday was yesterday.  He had a few specific things that he wanted:  a red-tailed catfish for his aquarium, and possibly a Lowe’s gift card for some tools, wood, etc for his projects.  We decided to celebrate a day early because our youngest son was going out of town for a retreat and wanted to be there to celebrate his brother’s birthday.  So after work on Thursday, I rushed out to Lowe’s first to get the gift card.  That’s an easy present and was quick to check off the list.  So then, I was off to the pet store.

As I walked in the pet store, a woman about my age greeted me.  “Can I help you find anything?” she asked.  So of course, I say that I’m looking for a red-tailed catfish.  I was pretty relieved to not have to wander past all the aquariums in the huge space to find a little fish.  So, then the man behind the counter, who is about my age as well, says, “We just sold the last one.”

Pause.  What did he just say?  You mean the one thing that this son asks for is not here…and it was just sold.  Yikes.  But as the wheels in my head starting turning, I said, “Was it a tall man about my age who just bought the fish?”  Affirmative.  The man behind the counter said, “Yes, and he bought a gift card as well.”  Bingo. I laughed and said, I think that was probably my husband.  “Can you tell that we don’t communicate too well?”  The man and woman gave a knowing look and smiled.  The woman said, “You’re not the only ones.”  As I walked out the door I wondered if they were married as well.  My guess is: affirmative.

So I walked out of the store and called my husband…who turned out to be the tall man about my age who had just bought a red-tailed catfish and a gift card.  Turns out he had been to Lowe’s earlier in the day as well!  Oh, brother.  Nope, we are so not good communicators at all.  Never have been.  We are about as opposite as two people can be.  But do you know what we have in common?  Red-tailed catfish and Lowe’s gift cards.

When I called Buddy about the whole deal, we both laughed and I remembered a few things.  I remembered that we have a lot in common.  We love our kids, though often show it in much different ways.  He makes me so mad about some things and drives me crazy with big issues like money and little issues like the thermostat set on FREEZING.  He leaves a mess and laughs at things that I just don’t think are too funny.  But then again, he can make me laugh in a heartbeat because he has a great sense of humor. He’s made a lot of mistakes in his life and is a recovering alcoholic with a lot of regret.  But I see him trying to make up for lost time.  Perfectly?  No, not at all.  But the attempt is so there and so apparent.

As I drove home and thought about the red-tailed catfish, I was really thankful to be reminded to focus on the common ground in relationships rather than the differences.  Some differences are crucial.  For a single person, my advice would be so different as common ground on key issues such as faith and beliefs so matters. It so matters because the man or woman you marry will change and lead your world.  Be wise with choices. Take seriously to heart Paul’s words about being unequally yoked. But on this side of marriage?  I stood on sacred ground 25 years ago and said “I do.”  “I do” through ‘better or worse’, ‘richer or poorer’, ‘sickness and health’, ‘to love and to cherish till death do us part.’  I never in my wildest dreams (or nightmares) would’ve imagined some of the things we’ve gone through.  But there is still common ground.  There is still love.  There is still hope.  There are still red-tailed catfish to remind me that we care about so many of the same things.

I could write a book on the struggles in marriage.  And I have a feeling that I’m not alone on that one, for sure! But one of the long chapters in my little book would definitely be…common ground.  Be aware of the common ground and don’t lose sight of it in the midst of all of the struggles of daily life and the differences that can be so exaggerated with daily stressors.  So many marriages end because we forget.  We forget who our spouse is/was.  Sometimes we need to be the ones reminding them of who they are.  Or, we forget who we are…and then they can’t see us either.  My book would not be a “how to” for sure.  It would be a collection of stories of grace and hope and, here’s the key word…forgiveness.  Because in order to have common ground, there’s gotta be a willingness to stand on it and we all have things we need to forgive before we can stand together.

Anyway, the birthday celebration was a success.  The red-tailed catfish is doing just fine, and the son has gift cards to both Lowe’s and the pet store which are much more valuable had they been if his mother had been the one to buy them! I’m sure he’s glad that his Dad made it to the pet store before his mom!  He knows us both too, and given the values of the gift cards would know that the lesser one would’ve been from me and the more extravagant amount would’ve been from his Dad.  But in the end, he hopefully knows that we’d both run to the store and try to make his birthday more special.  Hopefully, all my kids know that we, these two incredibly different beings, love them with all our hearts.  And that is the common ground on which this family tries to stand.  The ground is so shaky at times, but bottom line, I hope they know we are for them. And when we struggle? May we have some red-tailed catfish scenarios to help us to remember and smile.

Oh, and one last thing.  I went downstairs this morning to find a mess in the kitchen…and…scrambled eggs on a plate for me on the counter.  They were covered in saran wrap and cooked just perfectly.  Buddy had called and said, “I made you breakfast” before he had left for work.  So it is.  Should I focus on the mess or the scrambled eggs? I’m choosing to focus on the scrambled eggs.  They were delicious by the way.  And the mess?  The dishwasher is running, the counters are clear and the mess is gone.  But being thankful that my husband made me breakfast?  Thankfully, that will linger a lot longer than the mess.

Blessings to You and Yours~

Heather

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant  you to live in such harmony

with one another in accord with Jesus Christ.”

Romans 15:5

snowyhill

A Blanket of Grace

Thankful for the covering

White as Snow

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;

though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.

Isaiah 1:18

socks2

Pairing socks…Now that takes endurance at my house!

But seriously, isn’t it funny, how sometimes the little stuff of life like pairing socks can be the things we put off?  It’s not an overwhelming job when it’s kept in check, but oh brother, you should see what happens in my home when the laundry gets away from us. Pairing socks with one load of laundry is pretty simple and do-able.  But when the laundry  piles up and isn’t sorted right away, a simple job becomes overwhelming. With lots of people in our home wearing all sorts of styles and colors of socks, it can be a challenge for sure.  Mix and match these piles and piles of socks, and a simple job gets to be a huge task. Trust me, I know.  And when it gets away from me, it feels incredibly overwhelming. A simple task becomes a huge undertaking when a week’s worth of socks have added up to a huge pile which grows exponentially.

So here’s the thing. Keeping things in check is key in life. With socks.  With laundry.  With checkbooks.  With relationships.  Specifically with forgiveness.  Like dirty laundry that piles up in a short period of time, offensive acts can add up quickly, if not paired with forgiveness.  One act that’s forgiven quickly is like a pair of socks that is matched up and put in the drawer right away.  Done, Paired, Matched. Over.  Clean and ready for use. But if we don’t quickly pair offenses with forgiveness, the “sorting through” becomes a complicated venture of wading through a big mess. The more socks in a pile, the more difficult to find a pair.  So it is with forgiveness. The more offenses, the more difficult it is to deal with the hurts, because instead of seeing them one by one, they are in a broad mix of so many that all that is seen is the offense, and it’s difficult to just let it all go.

The Bible says it like this, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”  Ephesians 4:26.  Holding unforgiveness in our heart is like letting things pile up in our spirit that end up being a lot more complicated than they ever should have been. And a lot heavier.

Short accounts are a good thing.  With money, with relationships, and with socks.  Keep the socks paired friend.  And keep the offenses matched up with forgiveness.  Your load (forgive the pun) will be a lot lighter! Endurance in work and in relationships is a good thing, but suffering when things could be so much easier isn’t always necessary for sure.   Just a few thoughts that came to me as I paired socks (for a very long 2 hour session!) on my living room floor.  Yes.  My goal is definitely to pair things more quickly…with socks, and with offenses.

Blessings,
Heather

socks

texture

On Being Laid Bare

Unraveling…

Unveiling…

Peeling Back…

Exposing…

Laying Bare…

it’s fine for a birch tree…

but oh, so hard to see in

those we love.

But there’s a season for exposure

of the hidden things which eat from the inside out.

May we be people who embrace and love well

(which may involve covering, or may involve more painful exposure)

when those in our care are in the painful process

of dealing with things they need to let go.

 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Hebrews 4:13

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I John 1:9

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/texture/

Tanner and Bud

‘Repentance’ definitely isn’t a word for preschoolers. But most of these young little folks have ample opportunites to learn about the concept! This photo captures one of those opportunities – a teachable moment when the little guy learns about turning and being forgiven and starting fresh. No, he didn’t committ anything major, but learning to turn from wrongs done, and being forgiven is a crucial part of growing up…no matter the age.

His Dad is listening. He’s getting on his level and his body posture says that he loves him and is so in there with him, BUT what he did wasn’t okay and needs to not happen again. The little guy is listening and deciding the cost. Rest assured, those little wheels in his brain are turning and he’s thinking it all through. Free will is a two-edged sword, for sure. We are free to choose the things that are destructive to ourselves and those around us. Free to choose bondage, free to choose freedom, even when we’re three!

I remember as a young Christian, struggling with people’s view of God…that He’s some judge in the sky who looks down and condemns. But the God of the Bible, bends down. Like a loving Father who wants the best for His children and He loves well. He does not relax His standard, but He calls to repentance, to a life that is free from self-destructive sin that eats us from the inside out.

Even my little guy on the fence post knew in his heart that something had gone awry. And it wasn’t just the getting caught. Repentance isn’t the saying, it’s the doing. It’s the owning up and turning around and making things right if at all possible. Yes, repentance is a big word for little guys. But it’s such a crucial part of the whole concept of forgiveness. Learning, turning, and owning up helps us to move on.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about ‘Cheap Grace’ in “The Cost of Discipleship”. This is what he says: “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

Repentance isn’t cheap. Neither is Grace. They both cost something. My little guy sure didn’t like sitting on the fence. But after he owned up and got a hug from his Dad, he was probably way happier and free than he had been. He owned up and moved on, and he knew that his Dad knew his secrets and loved him just the same. But his Dad also loved him enough to not let him think that his behavior was okay…he wanted more for him and helped him move on to find it. God bends down like a father who calls His children to a better way. Not an easy way, but a better way which includes, not license, but true freedom.

“Or do you take lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/prompt-forgive/

Rear View

I’ve sat in the passenger seat and helped teach 5 teenagers how to drive. (FIVE!)It’s good training for having nerves of steel, it really is! But I always love how when kids have just gone through Driver’s Ed, they know the techniques. One son in particular was really good about using techniques initially. He had the hands at 10 and 2, and adjusted the mirrors. When he backed up, he always looked over his right shoulder, put his right arm back over the seat, and was really good at backing up in a straight line. I think it was because he would look over his shoulder and have a center line to gage from. He wouldn’t drift to the left or right, but stayed focused on the destination by looking back.

When I was learning to drive, I was terrible at backing up. I could do just about anything else, even parallel park. But when it came to backing up, I would drift and get off course in the drop of a hat. Later in life I still struggled with backing up in a straight line. It was probably most apparent the weekend I borrowed my friends trailer. Driving forward was no problem. But backing up with a trailer on the back, it was just too much. It could have been a comedy sketch watching me try and try and try again to back up a trailer in our curved driveway, but was a definite test of my patience at the time. I would avoid needing to back up with the trailer at all costs, but sometimes it was just inevitable. There was no way of getting around it.

It’s been one of those seasons for me of ‘backing up’…looking back and looking inward. Some things we were dealing with in my family made me really examine things in my own life and it’s been no fun. I needed to deal with some things. It was inevitable. I’m not talking about getting down on myself or the “paralysis of analysis”. I am talking about acknowledging mistakes and making room for growth in learning from them. There again, the goal is to learn from mistakes so as not to make the same ones over and over again. Years ago, our pastor would say “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll be what you’ve always been.” (Dave Shores) I sure don’t like the painful process of dealing with regrets. But sometimes, we need to visit those places in order to ensure that we don’t want to go back to the same old ways. Backing up in a car effectively takes using strategies. So does looking back into our lives. If we don’t have a center point, its so easy to get off course.

In that painstaking process of self-analysis, it’s so easy to drift one way or another. There can either be a deviation from standards and a watering down of expectations, or on the other extreme, there can be an overdose of shame and condemnation. Just as losing that focal point when backing up a car leads to drifting off course, losing perspective when looking back at past failures and issues without having a center point can make us drift far from where we need to be. As a mom of those in their teens and early twenties, I’m looking back a lot more now, and sometimes it just plain hurts to think of the “should haves” or “would haves”. But I want the looking back to be a motivator to do better as I move forward, and that requires keeping things in perspective.

So here’s the thing. As a believer in Christ, that center point, that standard of both acceptance and expectation, is found in the Truths of Scripture. If I am to stay on course, I need to fix my eyes on the One who can has been with me at the beginning of this journey, and will be there at the end. Bottom line, He’s been the One planning the itinerary. I love how Hebrews 12:1,2 talks about “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith”. He is the Author, the originator of our journey, and He is the One who will help us perfect it in the end.

So, as I’m backing up and owning up to things in my life, I am so thankful for a Redemptive God. He sees and guides and redeems. I want to be like my son who uses that focal point so that he can stay on course. I want to fix my eyes on Jesus and lay aside the weights that cling to me so that I can move forward. Yes, acknowledging the weights is key to letting them go, and that’s a part of the process of looking back. But the goal is to let those weights go and move on. I’m still here. This journey is so not done, so I want to make the most of it as I can….with those that I love…and enjoy the process. Yes, “forgetting what lies behind, I press on.” (Phil 3:13)…and pressing on is what it’s all about…

“so let us know, let us press on to know the Lord
His going forth is as certain as the dawn
and He will come, He will come to us like the rain
like the Spring rain watering the earth.”
Hosea 6:3

%d bloggers like this: