Life Under His Wings

by Mary Beth on June 5, 2018

I yearn for times of quiet reflection in nature.

It’s likely due to my early childhood memories in Pure Michigan;

of restful, lazy summer days at the lake and always adventure in the country.

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Yet the more I learn and understand our Creator God, the more I see His perfect revelation

in every promise, purpose, and plan He has gracious given us in life.

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My brothers and I have fond memories racing motor bikes;

 a stopwatch determined the winner of the race through the thick woods near our home.

While early morning hours faded into dusk,

I also enjoyed years of hunting excursions with my father,

especially for partridge or quail from our wooden canoe in the river.

Yet, our early morning ice fishing endeavors holds only a brief joy and worth of remembering!

I’m thankful for all sorts of enjoyment in nature,

for the ability to appreciate and rest in the quiet beauty of the outdoors.

Treasured stories laced our annual summer camping trips

in the wild Canadian country, and cherished memories in our quaint cottage on the lake.

Of course we also dreaded hot hours of simply pulling weeds,

or eating organic veggies from our gigantic home garden.

If only we had the ability to pull sinful weeds out of our family scruples,

to protect our families from unwanted weeds which spread over the entire garden.

 Is this not a noble desire to avoid,

choking out the harvest and many fruits of our labors?

In the garden of Eden,

God graciously provided abounding goodness, order, and rhythm.

Yet Eden introduced

weeds deeply tainting our stories throughout humanity.

We all hold unique memories from our childhood, and unusual memories of significant struggles within our upbringing.
Truly, there's a time for everything under the sun; a time to hold and a time to let go.

Each year on Father’s Day, many souls struggle

with a healthy tension between discerning how to honor our earthly fathers,

and at the same time we perhaps wrestle with a righteous indignation.

Possibly angst towards merely an image of strength from our fathers;

a bold void of godliness, integrity, or holiness.

Father’s Day holiday can be a reminder that we

don’t simply grieve on Father’s Day, but everyday.

We struggle and grieve with a mixed bag of memories, absence, and deep loss

weaved into the fabric of our being.

All true, however, we don’t grieve without hope.

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In a book that was meant to be prayed, most likely penned by a prophet named Jeremiah,

Lamentations invites us to worship and lament.

“But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they
are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lam. 3:21-23

 

By God’s grace I’ve learned not only to forgive my father for his endless weeds of narcissism,

but through Scripture, prayer and godly counsel,

I’ve learned to be gracious to him with the gospel and love of Christ.

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Although I etched this poem in my journal moons ago,

I was hesitant and lingered with it far too long, I confess.

In trusted sincerity and sanctification, my aim and motive is not one of resentment or bitterness

but a vulnerable and humble offer to others in suffering.

May you hear and come to know as I, God’s heart is tender and faithful to the fatherless.

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We cannot bear the weight of sin which so easily entangles our lives,

or the weight of suffering loss from a dearly loved father.

How grateful I am to our amazing, eternal Heavenly Father.

For God graciously invites, provides and sustains our relationship with Him.

God is with us in our scruples to see, hear and move on behalf of His children;

He specifically yearns and moves towards the fatherless.

This belief will change our struggle and how we grieve.

We don’t have to grieve without hope. 

We can turn and rest our hope in the ever-lasting arms of our Heavenly Father;

our faithful Creator of the heavens and the earth, and the stability of our times.

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Under His Wings

It is your absence

In the past we forgive.

Enormous losses

Surfaced and grieved.

 

Each resurrected day strength

Questions how you live.

Choosing love to withhold,

Once mercy has unfolded?

 

A lack of capacity; of skill?

Pride blinds and binds the free will.

Any heart alive leaps to give.

Is it not by conscience we live?

 

Life that you craved was

The treasures of Life He gave.

You fought the Old Cross;

Serious dilemma when you’re the boss.

 

Ironic passion saving ships at sea,

Responding with skills to hazardous pleas.

However, our silent confusion will not escape,

Why our claims lay drowning like red tape.

 

Performance cannot cover shame,

Neither satisfy loves jealous hunger.

To save the world and lose your own soul?

Life has hunted you as game.

  

I’ve known two fathers “saving:”

One born from natural earth, self-willed of wood and clay;

Another a suffering Servant from Eternity; The Truth, Life and Way.

Eternal willing to suffer; natural unwilling to obey.

  

Our free will of independence

Will counteract, “Who do you say I am?”

We’ll stand alone by this evidence,

Witnesses have since Abraham.

 

Your image of strength

Only shouts with fears.

Admit your human,

It’s loud and clear.

  

Contempt, a small matter

Compared to our soul, a great loss.

Such disdain paid for

Through the powerful cross.

 

Yet silence continues to be your path.

It’s blunt to observe the aftermath.

Such vast wounds of absence, yet-

Hovering over is our Abba Almighty, who’s more immense.

 

He is our Hope, everlasting Father and Refuge.

Tenderly holds our entire deluge.

By His mercy chosen to experience,

Life under His wings; His defense. ~mba

 

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us,
that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
1 John 3:1

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If you find yourself struggling with a sense of belonging

from an absent earthly Father,

remember our great Heavenly Father is not like man.

He will never leave or forsake us. Heb. 13:5

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Still Waiting

by Mary Beth on May 22, 2018

 

In review of

Ann Swindell’s book:

 Still Waiting

Hope for when God doesn’t give you what you want.

 

Ann writes to offer encouragement and hope during times of waiting,

specifically through the story in Scripture of a woman acquainted with bleeding.

After many years of suffering with silent questions due to her ongoing wrestle with bleeding and perhaps pleading for help,

we learn the woman pursues Jesus for a miracle and for hope.

At some point as we grow towards maturity in life and in our faith,

we also learn patience and waiting in a lingering season of struggles and long-suffering.

 

We yearn for change towards healing and restoration.

 As we leave room for the grace of God to sanctify us, long suffering not only challenges our adherence to persevere,

but over time we learn His gentle mercies truly comfort and refine our unique and ordinary lives through the process.

The grace of God is a deeper refinement of the heart,

with purpose to bear fruit in the direction of loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

It’s also the love of God working in us for His good pleasure,

through a clear conscience forming godly character,

to press on and stand strong in the faith and love of God-

while living in a culture of instant comfort, rugged individualism, and accepted narcissism.

 

As believers in Christ we live in the already and not yet,

through Christ we’re apart of the kingdom of God yet waiting for Christ to return for His own.

We give glory to God as His image bearers especially in a season of waiting, just as

creation waits and even the angels wait for the sons of God to be revealed.

 

Three points I’ve continued to ponder and relish from Ann’s creative writing:

 

First, when waiting makes you broken, weak, and aims to claim your identity,

this season holds potential to lead us to God and His character of goodness, strength, and sufficiency.

For in our waywardness and weakness, He is strong and ever present with us.

While we wait we’re tempted to believe there’s no action or activity,

but this is where the grace of God carries our faith and very life.

Yes, but how do we learn to wait well? Who wants to linger longer in waiting?

Swindell tells her story of trusting God while she wrestled through years of personal struggles,

with vulnerability, wisdom, and personal cost.

She stands upon Christ and His divine power for everything in life.

 

Second, our desire to be “normal” circles back to a search for identity. We are each uniquely and wonderfully made,

for love, value, acceptance, and approval in Christ. However our minds understand this fact,

our hearts easily yearn to falsely gain what is already made secure as image bearers and children of God.

If God is with us in our everyday struggles in being human, let us rest in His compassion and everlasting love.

Finally, the lingering whys surface during long suffering.

Why does God not answer our prayers as we hoped, either to heal us or remove the painful circumstances?

Ann offers through her journey, clarifying questions to probe deeper into our hearts during unanswered prayers:

What road will we take, one of offense or obedience?

Will we allow ourselves the freedom from shame and the freedom to accept pain?

Ann writes, “Yes, I got hurt and frustrated and angry about what He wouldn’t do for me.

And yet I always came back to this: God is God, and he loves me and cares for me.

Why wouldn’t He heal me, I didn’t pretend to know. But where else would I go (John 6:68)?

He is the Word of Life.”

Enjoy Still Waiting

as Ann inspires us to consider the love of God, to love one another in biblical community,

and to apply the wisdom and hope in Christ during our secret battles and sufferings.

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In Your Midst

by Mary Beth on May 1, 2018

Mighty Right Hand

is dedicated to my cherished mother,

Shirley Marie.

Although Shirley Marie lived an ordinary life,

 she shined an authentic, godly witness

to the sincere love, compassion and mercy of Jesus.

She loved justice and mercy, while walking humbly with God.

A persevering saint,

with a strong faith in our Prophet, Priest, and King.

Shirley Marie was a novice writer,

eager to grow and wrestle in the gift of creativity writing.

It is in this very remembrance,

I delight to honor her and to some degree,

continue to affirm our mutual calling and bond as writers.

Through many trials she endured to the glory of God,

running her race as a faithful servant and steadfast prayer warrior,

who echoed a rare and fond intimacy with our great God.

Often I knew God was in her midst.

The word midst, means in the middle.

God is right in the midst or middle of our ordinary, daily lives.

 

Gifted author, Henri Nouwen,

affirms her experience:

“Prayer is not a pious decoration of life,

but the breadth of human existence.”

 

 I cherished any opportunity for hot tea with her,

especially quieter hours of the late evening.

All alone, we would giggle and discuss our answered prayers,

the reality of heaven, or our love of Scripture and books;

and of course our family affairs.

It’s no surpass to those who knew Shirley Marie,

she was born on Valentines Day.

How fitting for a woman of such depth,

tender love, wise insight, and godly passions.

Yet, at the age of only forty-nine,

the world was not worthy of her anymore.

She is with Christ, truly savoring His presence;

awaiting the right time for our reunion.

I miss her deeply,

and long for the glorious day when

we’ll reunite in pure joy, peace and celebration.

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I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,

it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.    

Jn. 12:24

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As a poet and writer,

I penned this poem in remembrance;

a healing balm on a cold and long winter morning.

And of course, a hot cup of lady grey tea was a must.

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Mother of Pearl

Many years past

Life welcomed you into heaven.

 A raging tremor to us;

Full of questions, struggles and shock then.

Yet life this side of glory

Is dry thirsty land.

Filled with longing, often waiting, seeking-

The touch of Abba’s hand.

A walk of faith in

His tender embrace:

Faithful, true, and abounding in steadfast love.

Yet you dear sister, see face to face.

With tender eyes I now understand

Trials you suffered with pain.

You know fully and are fully known,

All glory to Jesus name.

Your pure heart and presence I miss immensely:

In our home, with tea or daily disciplines.

Yet, somehow I feel you with me,

As one who cannot explain the wind.

Countless and faithful years it was evident

You prayed as a warrior.

In weakness and frailty, yet confident

In the strength of our Savior.

Among the “great cloud of witnesses”

I trust you see and celebrate

Each tear, thought and desire perceived.

His will of love so great.

Yet deep calls to deep, why Lazarus?

Abba’s love for you echoes and rings.

Trust and courage may cover our voyage,

Together we’re under His merciful wings.

All joy at the grand wedding.

Anticipating a dance with you,

In the fragrance of Christ.

We’ll sip tea together again,

Covered as morning dew.  ~mba

The Bible was written in tears, and to tears it yields its best treasures. A.W. Tozer

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,

let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin

that so easily entangles,

and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.   Heb. 12: 1,2, Ps. 15.

 

“We are compassed about by a great cloud of witnesses, whose hearts throb in sympathy with every effort and struggle, and who thrill with the joy at every success. How should this thought check and rebuke every worldly feeling and unworthy purpose, and enshrine us, in the midst of a forgetful and nonspiritual world, with an atmosphere of heavenly peace! They have overcome-have risen-are crowned, glorified; but still they remain to us, our assistants, our comforters, and in every hour of darkness their voice speaks to us: “So we grieved, so we struggled, so we fainted, so we doubted; but we have overcome, we have obtained, we have seen, we have found, -and in our victory behold the certainty of thy own.” H.B. Stowe

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