Trust Isn’t Just About Me

Nothing is accomplished when I worry about my life. It never added a cubit to my stature and, as Corrie Ten Boom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” Whenever I begin imagining the worst, I remind myself – grace isn’t going anywhere. The Lord’s character won’t change in time for tomorrow’s storm. He’s steadfast and sufficient for whatever path or valley.

I know worrying about myself is a fruitless pastime. Here’s the problem. Sometimes it feels more helpful to worry on the behalf of others. Perhaps because I feel even more powerless when it comes to my family and friends. Maybe because at times I feel concern for someone younger in the faith, or more vulnerable physically, or a child in my line of responsibility.

Trust isn’t always just about me and the Lord. Souls of others are often involved. But isn’t it inconsistent to trust God for my own future, but stress about someone else’s?

I’m writing this down because the irony of these words makes me thank God for His tremendous landscape of care for each person I care about.

Think of it this way. Someone I love is near the overseas war-zone, but I forget he is tucked in God’s solid sovereign plan? A friend is saved by lavish grace, but I’m anxious about her weighty decisions she must make? My brother-in-Christ is a co-heir with the Prince of Peace, and I wonder if God will provide for his next season? My family member is loved enough that the Lamb died for her, but will the great I Am see her through a new medical diagnosis?

The glorious reality is this: God is completing a good work in each of us and will be faithful to complete it. Will I “believe all things, hope all things, endure all things” as I wait and watch for God’s work in their lives?

There are many ways we can encourage, admonish, teach, and minister to our fellow believers in their sanctification journey, but anxiety isn’t an effective practice. God’s dear children have rich promises to claim whether they fully realize them or not! This old hymn re-sung by Selah draws this out:

“Some through the water, some through the flood

Some through the fire, but all through the blood

And some through great sorrow, but God gives the song

In the night season and all the day long

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright

Sometimes in the valley, in darkest of night

Though sorrows befall us and Satan oppose

Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes

God leads His dear children along.”

Even if He designs a harder season for someone we love, it’s such a comfort to entrust them to the Chief Shepherd. We can count on His faithfulness to His Bride, to each member of His church He is building.

As you pray for and encourage your parent/sibling/friend to listen to the Holy Spirit, you can trust that He will direct them as He is acknowledged (Prov. 3:6).

“You have dealt well with Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word.” 

Psalm 119:65

We need not worry or stress for the future of God’s servants. When the opportunity to trust on others’ behalf arises, remember He deals well with His servants (maybe not always according to us, but always according to His Word!). His grace is sufficient for each, and what a wonderful opportunity to anchor our trust deeper in a worthy God.

When Praying feels like Watering Dead Roses

Only a hopeless optimist — who is also an amateur gardener — would water a rose bush for as long as I have. I believe it was dead even before I pulled it from its terracotta pot and planted it, much too late. Still, I persist in watering the wilted blooms alongside the snapdragons, in a flailing aspiration that the muted green will revive into pink blossoms again.

I don’t recommend this kind of false gardening hope, but as I stared at the faded remains of roses, I thought of the unfaded faith I desire to apply to my prayers. Sometimes my pleas to God feel too cliché to reach beyond our ceiling. They feel like tired words, as I request a glorious outcome from the same old verbiage. They feel like I’m watering a rose that can never come back to life.

But God. He is mercy. He hears our weakly worded prayers, and His spirit utters groanings too deep for words on our behalf.

When my prayers feel about as useful as watering dead roses, He is listening, inviting mustard-seed faith. Speak to Him in confidence and trust, for nothing is harder for God than something else. NOTHING. There are no levels of impossibility for Him. He can make dry bones come alive.

A few pages ago in my prayer notebook, Roe V. Wade stood at the top of my list for prayers for our country. Completely surprised at God answering like He did, now I wish I would have pushed into deeper prayer for the fight for life in the womb. Why didn’t I ask with greater expectancy, knowing God could indeed choose to work in this way against the odds? My praise and excitement would be more personal now if I had labored more in prayer with hope and trust. The prayers never felt like frontline work, but prayer is always battling where it matters most.

“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18

When all around appears wilted, and you have only the strength to utter a few overfamiliar sentences to God, remember WHO you’re sending them to. He moves mountains for His children. His graciousness is always on display. His Sovereignty holding all things as we:

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Romans 12:12

Seeds are to Plant

I am not much of a gardener, but I hope to become one, a good one, eventually. First, I must cut through the fog of intimidation at trying something new.

Talk of soil, zones, timing, and types of plants can cause overwhelm for the ones who haven’t pursued a green thumb. Questions prick like thorns.

Have I missed the window for planting my favorite flower? How much money should I invest in annuals and where should I place the perennials? Will the mint take over? What if I change my mind about landscaping? Is it worth all the weeding?

Overhearing garden talk everywhere, I’ve begun to realize nothing can go too terribly wrong if I just plant a seed. Seeds are to plant. I can’t design their sprout, but I can put a little earth on top and pour water on it.

We poked little holes in our soil boxes, and I wasn’t sure how many to put in each hole, or if the sun would be too harsh, or if I’d be faithful to follow up. But I had to try. Humbled at my lack of knowledge, I appreciated the fact I had no control as to whether this tinsey seed would germinate where I attempted to place it. It all seemed like a shot in the dark, but a profound one. Then it occurred to me how biblical the planting process is.

God requires a similar faith in obedience of missional seed planting. I Corinthians 3:5-9–

“What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

As I sprinkle water on the tiny creations I’m caring for, I hope I’ll remember the real seed-planting partnership I’m called to. The Lord graciously gives opportunities to obey and speak the gospel in season and out of season, planting and watering seeds like Paul and Apollos. But God alone will determine the future of each one’s growth. We each will receive our own reward, and it won’t depend on the outcome of the seed’s growth, but on our obedient response in faith.

We may not ever see the results. In Barbara Cooney’s picture book Miss Rumphius, she tells the story of the “Lupine Lady” who cast seeds throughout her town in order to make it a more beautiful place. From her seeds, lupines delighted generations after she was gone. She simply scattered seeds along her pathway.

This summer let’s pray for chances to drop seeds in the gaping holes of emptiness we come across on our own pathways. To have His Word ready on our tongues, to labor in the heat of the desert, to plant where it seems barren. Work with our fellow forgiven workers, understanding the significant insignificance of our actions in the light of God’s sovereignty.

Everywhere we look is the field. At the park, at the thrift store, at the neighborhood bbq, at our front door. As the Lord’s servants, let us not freeze up in overwhelm that it may be too early or too late for planting. Let us not fear if we don’t know the right amount of seeds or the science of the soil. Let us not doubt the seed may be too microscopic to even produce a blossom.

Because God owns the field. We are fellow gardeners with Him, and what a privilege. The time is now to share about His goodness and the need to be saved from sin. There is a peace (and a reward!) in obedience, knowing we plant and water, but God controls the weather, the soil, and the fruit.

May in Words

re-reading old favorites

a bouquet fit for a bride in my vase

running low on bookshelf space

a game of pool

catching the coffee bus

preparing for a sweet bride with lace and all manner of white and shininess

celebrating graduates, mothers, birthdays and new friendships

feeding snacks to a carseat-bound baby

meeting new cousins

Cliff Dwellings

Painted Bear … a shop full of wood and mountain art pieces

learning about deep family history from Grandma

a blanket of Colorado snow

puzzle race and banana splits

sick baby cuddles

our little family together again at last

planting seeds

hosting a birthday tea for a Proverbs 31 woman (my mom)

rainy day play

gratefulness for freedom

learning about the book of Malachi

siblings who will play your favorite games (because I only own my favorites anyway)

new cleaning supplies

staring up at flowery explosions in hanging pots

remembering simple truths like,

We lose joy in service to God when we lose the heart of worship.

Young America, a wooden doll, and The Loveliest Place

Book review time!

I read only one of these following books (my thrifted copy of Hitty) in tangible form. Because I sure love my audiobooks. Since I can’t be Belle — in a castle with a giant library and dishes that wash themselves — at least I can wash the dishes while someone reads aloud to me. Still a princess-like luxury, if you think about it.

Here are some brief notes on each of these books. I’d love to know your thoughts if you’ve read any of them, or if you plan to give them a try.

Addy: An American Girl by Connie Porter
I just listened to all 5 of the books in the Addy series (takes about 5 hours). I remember loving them as a young teen, and I still think they are a treasure. I appreciate the glimpse into Civil War era history, the exciting plot and characters, and the emphasis on kindness and forgiveness.
She was always my favorite American girl (but sadly, I never had the Addy doll).

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
The first time I read Jane Eyre I didn’t really care for it, and I didn’t like Mr. Rochester even to the end. I still don’t. But this time through, I better understood the thread of redemption and enjoyed the deep emotion and drama of the storyline. Still not my favorite, but I have a feeling I’ll like it even a little bit better next time I read it.

These Happy Golden Years
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
I enjoyed the relaxing listen to this book, and it was fun seeing Laura as a young woman. It makes sense — her independence streak! It’s also interesting to see Pa and Ma parent a grown-up daughter. This book renewed my interest in the Ingalls family and inspired me to research their journeys. I used to live on that same prairie, after all!

Persuasion by Jane Austen
I had forgotten about the plot twists in this story and also enjoyed watching the movie after. The ending is just so satisfying! Gotta love Captain Wentworth.

Laddie: A True Blue Story by Gene Stratton-Porter
I reaffirmed Laddie as one of my top favorite books (find the one narrated by Laurie Klein). In this book, “Little Sister” commentates all of her large family’s affairs, through her shrewd and wholesome lens of childhood. She sweetly carries her older siblings’ burdens personally, but gets into plenty of mischief of her own. She is a little problem solver and isn’t afraid to tell the truth, even though she hasn’t learned when it’s best to keep quiet and when it’s helpful to speak up. This book is sweet, humorous, romantic, with very lovable characters. I always loved stories about the dynamics of big families and even wished for more details about more of the siblings. But Laddie truly does deserve the center stage and the title, as he’s the best older brother “Little Sister” could ask for.
Bonus observation of the family’s worldview: They are pious and moral people, who work hard, and put a huge emphasis on physical appearance. Both in their affirmation of good looks, and how circumstances will appear to their neighbors. I love the parents’ heart for the least and the lowly; their generosity and care for the outcast is indeed admirable. However, their motivation seems to be a “good work mentality,” trying to earn their salvation.
One of the children, referring to their mother’s constant hospitality, asks:
“‘Mother, have you ever figured out how many hundred sheets you’ve washed?”
Mother said: ‘No, but I just hope it will make a stack high enough for me to climb from into Heaven.” Laddie, Gene Stratton-Porter
This quote illustrates that the outward show of good deeds that Laddie’s family tries to achieve, misses the true heart of God’s grace and gospel. We’re saved for good works, not by them (Titus 3:5).
That being said, I do highly recommend this true, blue early American story as a great family read aloud.

Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
Sometimes children’s books are too simple, no matter their nostalgia, to hold my interest. I often shelf them for later, to read aloud to my future kids someday.
But this one — is truly a timeless delight. Betsy and Tacy, friends from age five, have endearing imaginations, reminiscent of me and my sisters.
Lovelace wrote off her own early 1900s childhood, weaving history and beauty and humor with each chapter.
In fact, I’m savoring my way through the entire series, and I’ll likely write more on these soon. In the meantime, find a copy of Betsy-Tacy to read to your little girl! Or for your own delightful amusement (if you love beautiful, true-to-life, historical, darling fictional adventures!)

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field
Hitty is a doll fashioned from mountain-ash wood for a little girl in early America, the state of Maine. Through many daring adventures, Hitty maintains her dignity and charm as she is passed frown owner to owner through uncanny events, seeing the country and century pass by. It’s such a charming and witty story, with a rich vocabulary. I think children and adults alike can enjoy the world travels of a doll who becomes an antique, with a memoir of gold to prove it.

The Loveliest Place by Dustin Benge
We all need a refresher on who the church is and why she exists.
We often forget that the church is the Bride of Christ, and she is beautiful and precious. I love how this author dives to the heart of Scripture to draw out the aspects of the Body of Christ. This book helped renew my appreciation for the church and look forward to the day when we’ll forever be with the King. He always keeps His promises to us, and every word He uses to describe His bride will reign true.