Hopeless?

Whenever we feel that a situation in which we are stranded is hopeless, we’ve lost sight of how big our God is.

Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-8), Jonah (Jonah 4:38), Job (Job 6:8-9), Moses (Numbers 11:10-15) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 20:14-18) all looked at their respective situations and felt hopeless enough to request death. Have you ever felt that way? You’re in good company if you have.

But even more encouraging than having a common experience with those guys, is this: you have an amazingly present (Ps. 46:1), protective (Ps. 121), loving (1 John), near (Jeremiah 23:23-24), powerful (Ps. 46) God who works out all situations for the good of His children. Every single time. Even this time. Romans 8:28-29

No matter what it is we face, when we feel hopeless, that should alert us to something – we’re looking only at the situation. In our humanness, sometimes that’s all we can grasp. But that’s not all the reality of the situation. There’s more truth and action going on than we can see. God is at work. He is near you right now. He has a good plan. He can be trusted.

Don’t lose sight of your big God.* This situation will pass. Look to Him for strength to face it and to face it well without despair and hopelessness.

Remember: Whenever we feel that a situation in which we are stranded is hopeless, we’ve lost sight of how big our God is. Repent. Believe Him. Rest in His unfailing love for you and have a lovely day.

 

*Psalm 143:7-8 and Psalm 46 are wonderful passages on which to meditate if you feel overwhelmed now and have, perhaps, forgotten your  powerful God. Blessings.

 

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You Can’t Change Anyone

Is there someone in your life that needs to change? Someone who seriously needs to change–Now!? Someone who just wrecked your lovely day?

Maybe it’s THE big change, as in she needs to repent of her sin and follow Christ. Maybe it’s not THE big change, but something else that’s difficult and troubling. Maybe you see him heading down a path you know is going to bring him, and possibly you, searing pain. Maybe it’s a lifestyle sin or a habitual sin against his own body. Maybe he hurts you over and over and if his heart were right, you know it would stop. Maybe she is just annoying and you want her to be unannoying. Whatever their issues are, how ever big and shameless they are, there is hope and help – and dear one, it’s not found in you or me doing or saying or praying the right things.

This morning I read for the 10th time (really! but that’s a different post) the passage in 1 Kings 18 where Elijah defeats the prophets of Baal. Actually, GOD defeats the prophets but He uses Elijah to do it. And something jumped out at me: verse 37 says, “Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”

Did you catch that? God “turned their hearts back.” He did it. Elijah didn’t and they didn’t. It was God at work.

Not counseling.

Not self-help books.

Not discussions with a godly friend.

Not praying really hard.

Not themselves.

Just God. He worked mightily in the Israelites’ hearts and changed them. Just like ~snap~ that! That’s my God! That’s your God if you are a believer in Jesus Christ. That’s our God who is concerned about the hearts of men. He is here. He is active. He is interested in what you are interested in. His heart breaks when your heart breaks. But a difference in Him and us, is He has the power to do something about that person who needs changing, while we don’t!

We can do all the things on the list above. And there are some really great things listed there that we should be doing daily, and that God may use to help change another person, but we must never put our hope for other people to change in our efforts. We are simply too weak and foolish to first, know what is best, and second, to do anything about it.

But we know the One who can change hearts instantly, or slowly, as He sees fit. We must trust Him to turn wayward hearts to Him. We may beseech Him daily to do this, and we may counsel from the Word and we may pray diligently, but we must remember that when a heart and life is changed to love Him and follow Him, it is His work. (Eph. 1 and 2)

This can give us great confidence if we truly trust Him or it can make us feel a bit afraid if we don’t really trust Him fully. Let your heart rest in the Comforter’s arms. Know He’s got this covered. He has a good plan. A good plan for you, specifically. You can trust Him to do whatever is the very best and wisest for you, and puts His love and power on display the most. Sometimes those things may hurt for a while, as in Elijah’s case. But it won’t last forever. You have His word on that. (Rev. 21:4) And your loved one who needs changing, can change. Because the One with all power, who sees every intent of the heart and every despicable action and reason behind them all, is more than capable of turning a heart to Himself. It’s not your job to change anyone. Let it go. But let it go Biblically. Trust Someone else with this person. Someone strong, full of love and kindness, and power.

His power is uncontested. Even all those ways our loved ones need to change is not impossible with God. Luke 18:27 tells us that it is impossible for us to change people, but it is easy for God to change hearts. He has the power to bring the dead to life, after all! Is there a greater power than that? (Eph. 1:19-20)

Even while you imagine the most amazing ways your loved ones can change, God can do more! Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Eph 3:20-21

Elijah had a lovely day. The Israelites had a lovely day as they were changed. Pray for God to have mercy on that poor soul you want changed and then confidently be assured of His utter ability to bring it to pass. Look to God, be obedient and rest. Trusting in Him will bring a lovely day.

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Small Moments

This lovely day has consisted of:

pewter clouds scuttling across a pewter sky.

a delightful photography lesson with my has-an-eye-for-photography son and artsy daughter-in-law.

dust all over my computer.

a runny nose– probably from the dust.

all the laundry washed, dried, folded and put away.

pretty good Cajun leftovers for lunch.

a purple pen that writes perfectly.

wind rattling the screens on my office windows.

a challenging word game on my Ipad that I’m almost winning.

a 17-year-old laughing in my office.

pulling ruby beets and smelly onions out of the black soil.

a quick kiss from my husband.

lemon cookie dough in the mixing bowl.

time to meditate on God’s love for me.

Mostly trivial, small moments have made up the bulk of my day. I did nothing grand today or especially noteworthy, but isn’t that how most days are? Taking time to see those small incidents and things for the big blessings they are, can really turn my day into a special one of praise rather than boredom. Clouds bring life-giving rain from my Father to water my garden so all those fruits and veggies can feed us. (Ps. 147:15-18, 148:8) Diversity in interests and personality in the people in my life makes me appreciate God’s creativity in designing humans. (Is. 43:7, Ps. 100:3) My photography lesson reminds me God is here and active and creative and I can capture a little of His work through my lens. (Ps. 19:1) Completing my laundry tasks just feels good! And I can be thankful for my washer, detergent, dryer, electricity, my husband who pays the electric bill, the electric company who provides the electricity, my God who invented electricity and gives my husband a job so he can pay the bills, and for the clothes and sheets and towels and other sundry things boys leave in their pockets that get washed. I can also be thankful we’re all alive and energetic enough to get our clothes dirty. (Eph. 5:20) Kisses and cookies always brighten my day. They mean love is here and expressing itself beautifully. All these things are simple but they tell me I am blessed by God in so many ways. Too many to count. Sadly, too many that I miss… But He keeps on bestowing those blessings second after second and He always will. I don’t know why He would do that for me or you, but He does. Every day. Actually, I do know why – because He loves us. More than we can imagine. More than we are able to understand. (John 15:13) Because He’s God and that’s how he chooses to love. (1 John 4:9-10)

Even the not so wonderful things are blessings in disguise just waiting for us to look a little deeper and see the blessing hiding behind them. The dust, for example. Dust means my house is decaying and spewing itself on my computer. That’s a blessing because it reminds me that this life isn’t all there is. This planet and my house are passing away but there’s a better one coming! (Rev. 21:1) One where no decay or death or pain awaits. And no runny noses! I can really get excited about that and about Who I will get to see! What wonders await! Where blessing morphs into more blessing and sin is gone and we all love each other perfectly and laugh together and there are lots of lemon cookies. Wait. I just made up that last part but there will be a banquet in heaven and I’m hopeful there will be cookies there. Surely! (Rev. 19:7-9) And so I can rejoice in these thoughts because I wiped a little dust off my computer. Who knew dust and runny noses could be so wonderful?

Thanks be to God for small moments that make us worship Him!

What a lovely day God has given!

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In Whatever I Trust…in that I Expect Happiness

Remember, O my soul, when the day seems less than lovely…it is my duty and privilege to rejoice in God; He requires it of me (Phil. 4:4). Rejoice then in the Giver and His goodness. Be happy in Him, O my heart! And be happy in nothing but God, for…

in whatever a man trusts, from that he expects happiness.

How true the above thought is in my heart. I read this idea in Valley of Vision this morning and thought how often I trust that things, feelings, security, acceptance, love, approval, and more! from people in my life will bring happiness. I trust. I expect. And when I trust and expect and someone doesn’t deliver, I am not happy. The day gets seriously “unlovely.”

This is a shocking thought for me in two ways.

1. I have never considered myself dependent on others for much of anything. I’m a first-born, independent, strong-willed, 40-something year old woman who can be organized and self-sufficient when I want to be. I have often thought it doesn’t matter what others do to me or say about me – I can handle it. (ha!) Then, of course, God in His merciful kindness escorts me through a painful circumstance, to show me I’m not so independent and above what others do and think. Sometimes what they say and do hurts. A lot. I keep asking myself, “Why does this hurt so much?” I think one answer is: because I expect. I expect others to return my deep affection and genuine concern and selfless kindness, but the hard black truth is: sometimes they don’t. Yes, that’s sad and worth some tears flowing down my cheeks, but it shouldn’t be so painful as to cause me to stop functioning or loving or having joy. Or worse yet, become angry, withdrawn and depressed. I’ve done all that. But God, in His loving, gentle, cleansing of my heart, shows me when I find my joy and identity in my trust and expectations, especially of others, I am disappointed and lonely and hurt. A lot. But when I find my joy and identity in Christ alone, He NEVER disappoints or leaves me lonely or sad. He never forsakes (Heb. 13:5) me or ignores me and, oh glorious thought, He never wants to!! I am my Beloved’s and He is mine! (Song 2:16) Always and forever. Nothing and nobody can take Him away from me. More tears flowing, but this time they are joyful ones. I love Jesus! And I am so happy He loves me. I don’t know why He does, but I’ll take His love any and every day. I can trust His love for me, expect it and thus, find my happiness there. *deep sigh of joy*

2. Some of my expectations are as follows: I expect to be loved because I love, I expect to be appreciated by other people because I work hard for them, I trust my friends to be kind to me, I expect everyone to tell the truth, I expect to have a happy,  peaceful life, I expect everyone to like me. And the list goes on. I didn’t know I expected these things until I stopped getting them. Now I can see why I had become unhappy. My expectations were either focused on other people or myself. I wanted everything I wanted, to be fulfilled by others and they simply weren’t doing it. They didn’t measure up to my standards. How dare they! Just kidding, but in my heart, sometimes, I really felt that way. I have a feeling I still will on occasion!  So, God has, once again, revealed a bit more of my heart to me and the best part is He has not just left me there pondering what it means. He has provided a way of escape. (1 Cor. 10:13) He has shown me there is no legitimate expectation I can have of Him that will ever be disappointed. He is worthy to be trusted in every situation. He has also shown me I had put my hope for a lovely day in other people and I needed to stop doing that immediately and trust Him if I really wanted to be happy.

Remember, O my soul, when the day seems less than lovely…it is my duty and privilege to rejoice in God; He requires it of me (Phil. 4:4). Rejoice then in the Giver and His goodness. Be happy in Him, O my heart! And be happy in nothing but God, for…

in whatever a man trusts, from that he expects happiness.

What a lovely day!

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The Good Life

Paul David Tripp said, “God is unwilling to be your means to what you call the ‘good life.’ No, relationship with him must be your definition of the ‘good life.'”

This is another thing I must remember when I have an unlovely Saturday! And when I think “things” will make me happy, happy, happy.

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My Unlovely Day

I knew this would happen.

As soon as I felt led to begin a blog about all the lovely things in a day, I knew would have a day that didn’t look or feel very lovely. Enter Saturday.

I woke up late. And it was work day. And I had a bazillion and one big things to accomplish. But instead of tackling all those things, I started cleaning out the pantry. I am blessed with a big pantry so it took a while. When I finished, I moved to the closet in the laundry room. 3 trash bags full of medicine and vitamins were chunked in the trash. I had stuff from 13 years ago sitting in that closet! That wouldn’t still be good, would it? I hate throwing things away. But I digress.

So, I began doing helpful, organizing things, but they weren’t on THE LIST. I was masterfully avoiding that list! As in a couple of hours have passed and I’ve managed to do nothing on it. By now I’ve realized I really hate THE LIST and am doing everything I can to avoid it, but I’m not sure why. But I press on doing laundry, cooking for our delightful fellowship meal at church tomorrow and going outside on occasion to pull a few weeds out of the garden. That’s always on THE LIST, but I like that one. None of that other stuff was though. Anyway, my side starts hurting. Like constantly. Not enough to make me call 911 but enough that I am uncomfortable – all day. After standing on my concrete kitchen floor cooking this Mexican chicken thing I just made up with the ingredients I had on hand and deciding to bake some triple chocolate cookies for church, I realized I was on my feet for a couple of hours doing that, not to mention all that time cleaning out the closets. Didn’t help the pain! Then I was bending over pulling weeds. Then I was hauling laundry outside to hang it on the line. That involved standing and reaching up over my head repeatedly. None of which helped my pain.

After doing all that, I then modified a shirt so it is modest so I have something to wear tomorrow. Then I’m sure I did other stuff that I’ve forgotten by now, but my side was really hurting at this point. I took some Tylenol. It kept hurting. And I was tired. Really tired. Then I realized I hadn’t made anything for supper and there just isn’t anything in our freezer that doesn’t require preparation.  Tons of frozen chickens, but nothing to just pop in the microwave. So I cooked supper. Tamale Pie. I don’t know why. I just had those ingredients in the pantry and refrigerator and that’s how they all fell together. (I’m starting to see a pattern in my cooking.)

I realize I’m tired, I hurt and I didn’t get one single thing done on the list today. (But whose fault is that last one?? Hmm?)Bummed! And I forgot to mention a really big thing that happened this morning. It is so stupid and clued me in to the fact that maybe I live by my feelings rather than by reason or the Word of God!!, but it happened and had an impact on me, so here it is: I had the most awesome dream the night before. Almost everything I LOVE was in the dream – a beautiful country house, leisure time outdoors near a lovely river, cool weather, a blonde baby boy on my hip, extreme happiness, a screened in porch, my husband, good friends,  laughter and more. Life was so beautiful and lovely and of course, impossible, but it was near perfection. And then, horror of horrors, I woke up to Saturday morning. Where that awful LIST was waiting with work to do. There wasn’t a list in my dream and there wasn’t any laundry to do or closets to clean out. The dream was just peace and love and joy and did I say peace already? Nothing to do but enjoy and relax and relish the day. I desperately LOVED this dream — too much apparently. It was one of those highly emotional, poignant ones that you never forget. And the feelings that came with it were so strong. Like I felt like I was there. And wanted to stay there! So, my Saturday started with a lovely dream, but soon reality crashed my party and, confession time, I didn’t like it. In fact, I was perturbed. I wanted my dream back. Like really badly! So badly that I was pouty and grumpy because I couldn’t have it. All I thought I could have was THE LIST. And that didn’t make me feel all warm and happy inside. I rebelled against THE LIST because I wanted my dream to be real and it wasn’t, but rebel that I am, I wasn’t doing that stupid LIST because it would just remind me that life isn’t perfect and stuff has to be cleaned and mowed and I just wanted to do what I wanted to do. So there. I showed that LIST. Hmph.

Then I remembered I was trying to see all the lovely in each day. Well, I wasn’t trying very hard that day, but I knew I should be because a good God made that day. He loved me that day even though I was not a very lovable person. He forgave me that day even though I didn’t really feel like asking for forgiveness. He ordered my day to get some things done that needed doing even though THE LIST is still sitting right here on my desk staring at me. He was gracious and kind to me. He didn’t forsake our relationship because I, in my spoiled little mind, wanted another life instead of the one He gave me. He didn’t get mad and punish me for my temper tantrum day. My pain wasn’t punishment. It was just pain for some good reason, even though I don’t know what.

I focused all day on my selfish desires and what I didn’t want to be doing. I wanted to make my dream come true. Even just a little part of it. But it wasn’t to be. Ever do that? Even on something as trivial as I focused on? Please tell me I’m not alone in being stupid and spoiled and selfish. I focused on me, myself and I and pretty much had a miserable day for it. I know that happens, but in the middle of it, I feel sort of powerless to stop being so involved with myself. Plus I felt miserable with pain and let that issue lead me to think wrongly about “poor me” – in pain and in real life with real work to do instead of living a sweet little dream where I have no responsibility except to enjoy stuff. I’m sorry to spring my self-centeredness on you so soon on the blog, but it might be something you should be aware of, unfortunately. 😦

Now, what to do? I didn’t think I had a lovely day at all. So how could I write about a lovely day if mine was foul?

I had to remember.

Not my dream, but a more real, real life. Something better than the dream. My life with Christ Jesus. My life where everything, yes, EVERYTHING, works out for my good. I have God’s promise on that in Romans 8:28-29. So, I can remember that my life right now is exactly how it should be for  my good. Even my Saturday. That is a lovely thing, friends. Better than a dream.

I can remember that God loves me. I’m not talking about a meaningless platitude where we say it, as if just saying it will solve anything and everything, but the one where the real God says He loved the real me before I loved Him. 1 John 4:10 When I was His enemy. Romans 5:10 When nothing good was in me. Romans 7:18 When I was unrighteous, worthless, deceitful, unfearing of God. Romans 3:10-18. That’s when God loved me. There wasn’t anything worth loving in me and He chose to do so anyway. Just because that’s how He is. And He chose to love me on Saturday when I was soaking in self-pity and just wanted to go live an impossible life that no one lives. Live a life that wasn’t best for me. Because if my dream world was the absolute best thing for me, I would have it! God would see to it!! because He only does and gives His children what is best for them. So, I should have been thinking about that on my hideous day.

But my unlovely Saturday was really anything but unlovely. It was truly a day designed with love just for me. Why? Probably so I could be miserable with my self-love and turn to Christ to receive His forgiveness, love and be happy in that. Which I really can do. In Christ.

So, here I sit musing over my ridiculous weekend day where I let a lovely day pass without really seeing it. Instead all I saw was what I wanted, didn’t have or needed to do. I let the real Beauty pass by. Sad to realize. But. There’s hope for me yet! I repent of my self-focus, my longing for what wasn’t best for me, my dissatisfaction with God’s plan and I ask for help never to do that again. To be filled with His Spirit to lead and to guide me in my lovely days and I move on – loved by God. To a lovely day.

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Where did the title of this blog come from?

Or to be proper: From where did the title of this blog come? Say it with a British accent. Lovely, my dear! OK. Really. Why “This Lovely Day” as a title? Because every day has something lovely in it, namely, God at work in the lives and hearts of His children. But I often don’t see it. I don’t look for it unless a spectacular dusky sky resplendent with deep reds and purples and oranges captures my eye or unless a particularly moving display of love from a family member surfaces and brings me to tears or, maybe, when God’s Word simply meets me at my desk with life-giving, life-changing, life-shocking truth that peels back a nasty layer of my life I didn’t know existed. Those things make me sit up and rejoice and praise God and even, but don’t tell anyone, sometimes, make me want to shout for joy!

But most of the time, I don’t live there. And I think it’s high time I do – every day! So, this blog is an effort, albeit a really fun one, to mostly direct my thoughts to God in every situation all day. And to see the lovely He is performing. Even if I have a rotten day, I know there’s lovely in it because God is love and lovely, and He is mine and, wonder of all wonders – I am His!!. So join me in seeking and finding Him all around us every day. It’s a trip worth taking and we don’t even have to leave our living rooms! It’s a lovely day, friend!

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