Tea Cups

It has been a very long time since I posted anything. It would take up so much space to tell of all that has happened and that I’ve been through so I decided to leave it packed away.

I collect tea cups. You know, the pretty ones like you see the British drinking tea from. I love those. I even have one that I purchased new (the others from garage sales) that I drink from time to time. It has pink flowers all over it. I love having a saucer to put my cup in, somehow it makes me feel like such a lady. Silly, I know, but I guess it’s a throwback thing from my childhood. I had an aunt who was like that, an elegant lady. It’s very hard imagining that I now live in a world where she is not. That situation is slowly coming to an end the older I get because one day I will join her in heaven.

But I digress – I do that from time to time and if I remember when you get to be my age you are allowed. Back to our tea cups. (I’m glad I had it written down so I would remember what we were talking about! I guess as long as I remember to pay the rent I’m doing alright.) I bought that tea cup brand new many years ago at a little shop in Door County. I’m not sure if the place that is there now is run by the same people because it has totally been refurbished, but the people there are quite friendly and helpful. I remember bringing the cup home and even though it wasn’t one of the delicate type, I was still so careful with it and wouldn’t drink from it for a long, long time. I just love looking at it.

One day, however, I decided to have a cup of coffee from it – looking back it’s a shame the first cup was coffee and not tea. Of course I washed it first before drinking from it, you never know what’s on the inside that you can’t see and don’t want any part of, for goodness sake. And there lies the crux of this blog – the “inside.” No matter how pretty and perfect without one chip on the outside, if the inside is not clean, it is not good for use.

Do you get where I’m going here? People are like that. They can be very pretty on the outside but ugly and dirty on the inside. They can be perfect in every way on the outside (just like the Pharisees) but revolting on the inside. A person may not be the prettiest teacup on the shelf, yet desirable and looks useful, yet on the inside have a filthy mess all around the edges. Do you know people like that? I do, or have in this long lifetime God has given to me. You see, it doesn’t matter how beautiful, clean, or desirable a cup looks on the outside, it’s the inside that counts. We don’t drink from the outside. Their beauty attracts from the outside but the dirt is still on the inside.

The problem is, when that teacup draws us in to touch it, admire it’s beauty, and then purchase it, we have just purchased a dirty teacup and we are excited to drink from it. We take it home and and in our excited state, forget to wash it first. We forgot to check it out to make sure it hasn’t presented itself to be beautiful when it was not. We put the kettle on, get out the tea, and forget to look on the inside of our teacup! We are so excited and happy and know this is the teacup we’ll drink from forever. We pour the water in, wait for the tea to steep (things take time), and then drink our first sip. At first we don’t notice anything, we are busy enjoying and admiring our teacup and call to let our friends know we have a beautiful new teacup. We take another beautiful sip and another and another. Finally, when we get finished drinking our tea, and we look further on the inside, we begin to see bits on the sides of the cup that don’t seem beautiful and clean like we thought. What happened? We are drinking something somebody else left behind! There it is at the bottom, all of that dirt and sludge! And we were just drinking from that! Then we remember, we forgot to wash this teacup before using it. Yuck – our tongue tastes funny and our throat feels coated and nasty. Our heart is heavy – we were so happy just a bit ago.

What to do? We’re stuck. Friends encourage us to wash that teacup, make it clean, we’ll like it. So, of course, that’s what we do. We put our teacup in soapy water and wash and wash, but something is wrong. There’s a very dark spot in the very bottom that just won’t come out! We keep washing and washing, telling ourselves that horrible black spot will come out. But, to no avail, it does not. Here we are, stuck with a dirty teacup but a beautiful saucer. We should have looked more closely before we bought it.

What would have happened had we “thought” and checked the teacup first? What would have happened if we had waited a little while, gone home to see if it would have been pretty on the shelf with the other teacups? What would have happened if we had waited to find a cup that was clean inside and out – we could have.  We feel depressed for having a teacup that is dirty on the inside and pretty on the outside. We still like this teacup a lot, but it will never look like it did at first. It doesn’t look good with our other family of teacups so we can’t set it there. What shall we do with it? Should we try to take it back  or should we just keep it and hope nobody else notices that dark spot? Will we really be happy for the rest of our life with this teacup, just looking on the outside and only just noticing the inside dark spot now and again? Will somebody else, who does not mind dark spots, come along and buy this teacup?

The smart thing would be just to pack it up and take it back, because no matter how many times we tell ourselves we will be happy with it, we know deep down inside we will not really be happy. But then we ask ourselves, do we really need to be that happy? Is anybody really that happy? We just can’t take our eyes off that outside beauty and selfishly feel we just cannot live without that cup and saucer, no matter what. Of course we can, we just feel that way. Wasn’t it feelings that got us to this place anyway? So, what do we do? Are we what we appear to be just on the outside, or are we true to our heart on the inside – one that is clean and ready for use?

You tell me.

God sees what’s on the inside.  Psalm 44:21 – God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart

 

Changes

I think most people don’t like change.  Even though they don’t want to stay in a rut, they enjoy a small change now and again – like painting the house, different flowers in the garden, new carpet.  I just wanted it clear that is not the kind of change I’m talking about.

Most of us fight tooth and nail to try to prevent it.  (That is unless we won the lottery.  I think we might like the change that comes with that, or at least a part of it.)  I’m talking about bigger changes, I think everyone knows what I’m talking about.  I also believe that everyone has some kind of “big” change come to their life that that didn’t want and was not pleasant.

I was like that. Fighting tooth and nail to hold onto something that actually wasn’t there. Like trying to hold onto what you imagined it would be like – you can think about it but you cannot touch it or embrace it.  So then comes despair as you struggle with what your mind knows and what your heart wants.  You find yourselves crying constantly, praying, screaming, locking yourself away, and, sadly, even thinking of suicide.

However, one day just a little something happens, or you see something, or hear something, and everything then changes.  You are able to let go of whatever you “imagined” and do so rejoicing and finding yourself happier than ever. The sun is brighter, the bird sings sweeter, everything around you seems so much better.  And then to your surprise, God hands to us the biggest blessing that causes us now to cry tears of joy.  We want to tell everyone! For me, it was close to a “crossing the Red Sea” type blessing. This blessing touched every area of my life. Financially, physically, emotionally. I still am so amazed when I think of it.

Back to that change. I now am looking forward to that change that I fought and dreaded for months.  I am excited and happy, looking forward to what God is going to do next! Whatever it is, I know it will be good because He always knows what is best for us.  Sometimes we get away from Him but when we realize we have made a huge mistake, we turn around and there is God, standing right where we left Him.  He never moved – we did.  I look back and just wonder what blessings He had in store for me that I missed.  I like to say “we’ll see which way the cat jumps” but it’s just a fun remark I heard on one of my favorite movies.  It’s really see which way God is going to direct us.

Sometimes He wants us to just sit and rest and wait for Him to get things lined up for us.  Sometimes I think He stands back smiling, watching while we receive blessing, after blessing, after blessing that he pours out to us. (Those are the most fun but we have to remember, crops don’t grow so well on the mountaintop.) Sometimes He metes out little blessings, one at a time, waiting as we realize how much he works in our lives each and every day.

I guess I went off on a little rabbit hole there, but if you’ve read any of my blogs you will realize I mostly just write what’s on my heart and how it comes to my brain. Things I want to say and “conversate” with someone.  So, if we didn’t use computers and such, I would say I just write it down with pen and paper as it comes to me.

I have been going through a huge change and the above remarks are many I have felt. But God, Abba Father, has brought me out of the darkness to the wonderful light again.  I was in the dark, really black, place where it seemed like I couldn’t and wouldn’t ever get out.  I guess that was the furtherest down that black hole I have ever been. People would tell me it would get better but when you’re like that you can’t see it.  That’s where faith comes in. Little by little I began to trust Abba to work this all out one way or another.  And he did and what’s more, He actually used me to do it! Well, the catalyst was someone else who doesn’t know it.  After the dust cleared, I found myself happier than I have been in years!

So you see, even though change seems horrible and we fight as we are thrown into that horrible pit, in the end if we just trust God, He will bring us out and show us the change was needed, good, and He has so much more for us.  I believe in miracles again!

Yea, change, what do you think? Do you think something good comes out of every change? Do you think some people never accept change and that’s maybe why they seem so bitter and are not pleasant to be around? Do you think their expectations were way to high and when things didn’t work out their way they just became downright mean and if you get in their way run over you? I’d say yes to all of those and there are probably many more reasons. However, when we come across a change, the best thing might just to be embrace it, look for the good, and ride it out. And, as far as other people, they are what they are, the do what they do, it is what it is, and just let them go and forget them. The ones who come along beside you, appreciate and relish them because those are few and far between.

Yep, I believe change is good most of the time if we just allow it to be.  Don’t look back, don’t think about what could have been, think about what is going to be – all the blessings and wonderful things just waiting for you tomorrow!

Who is the Strongest?

Did you ever argue with someone on the playground, or in the neighborhood, and say, “My Dad is stronger than your Dad!” or “My Dad is smarter than your Dad!” or anything similar?  I’m sure I must have.  My dad had so much common sense and could do a variety of things.  He was a very logical thinking man.  Why, he could pack a trunk full of suitcases and other stuff and get the lid down and it would take most people a small truck to get all that stuff in.  I would marvel as a child watching him arrange and re-arrange things when we traveled.  He never just jumped in and started throwing things in there, no sir.  He always stood back and surveyed the situation before he started packing.  (Consequently, I learned from him how to pack for traveling.)

My Granddaddy was a man you could learn volumes from about living.  You know, in all the days my Grandaddy lived, I never, ever heard him say anything negative or bad about anyone. Really!  Oh, he could have, too.  He had family that caused him to lose his farm and then he had to work on a dairy farm milking cows, barely making enough to get by and raise 6 girls.  (And you know God had to help him raise those 6 girls or he would have surely lost his mind!)  But, no, never anything negative.  If my Grandmother would start in about someone and he heard, he would say, “Now Frankie, it’s all right.” He not only didn’t say anything, he didn’t want to hear anything negative about someone, either.  Do you think society today could learn something from my Grandaddy?  I sure do.  I heard, “If you can’t say something good don’t say anything at all!” but not from Grandaddy.  No, he ‘lived’ it out as an example for us.  He didn’t even complain about all the arthritis pain he suffered. He would just say, “Oh me.” when he stood up from sitting or lying down and that’s as close as I ever heard him complain – something I wish I had really ‘learned’ and not just agreed with.

We learn from our parents don’t we?  Whether we intend to or not, there are just some things we learn from them – or whoever it is that raised us.  For most of us we could trust our parents for not only providing for us but for guiding us as well, giving us good advice, teaching us how to respect others, teaching us to be a good person.  Stuff like that.

Well, I am so very grateful to say that I have an Abba, Father God, who does even a better job than anyone in my family.  He was my Grandaddy’s Teacher, by the way.  Why, He even left us volumes of instruction in His Book, the Bible.  It’s like love letters from God.  Sometimes it seems like it’s hard to find the right path, but if we just step back, survey, look to God, and trust Him, He will show us the way.  And when we take the wrong path, He doesn’t forsake us, He just stands where ‘we’ left Him (He never leaves us), and waits for us to come back, sometimes nudging us, so we can get on the right path He has for us.  Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:24 – “Your laws please me; they give me wise advice.”  And specifically if you need advice, James 1:5 – “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.” James 4:7-8 “….Resist the devil, and He will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you……purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”   (New Living Translation).

Even though my father and grandfather are no longer here to help me and guide me, I am so very thankful for my Abba who is always with me and will always show me the way.  And, by the way, Abba is always standing beside you, stronger than the one who is against you, so you don’t have to worry about arguing about that, He always wins, whether it seems like it or not.

Slipping Off…….

Have you ever slipped?  When I think of slipping I think of things like slipping on ice, slipping off a slope, slipping away from a moor, slipping down steps, etc.

What is the first thing we do when we start slipping?  I don’t know about you but I try to grab for something so I don’t completely fall.  I don’t like heights so slipping down a tall embankment or cliff is highly unlikely for me but if I were to do so I would hope there would be someone that could and would grab hold of my hand to keep me from falling completely.  I’m thinking just about the first things he would say would be “I’ve gotcha, don’t look down. Keep your eyes on me.”  So looking down instead of keeping my eyes on my rescuer could be quite dangerous and even life-threatening.  I think as I would look into the eyes of my hero I would immediately feel a great attachment (no pun intended) to this one who has my life in his hands.

So, what am I getting at here?  Follow with me as I take us down a path most of us have at least started down.  As children of God, sometimes we slip.  Sometimes the slip is not so steep and other times it is dangerously steep.  Sometimes God allows us to slip to test us and see how much we depend on him and how we will obey Him in the trenches.

Abba, (Father God) always tells us to keep our eyes on Him.  It’s when we take our eyes off Him, when see something we want to check out further or something we want, that we get into trouble and start to slip.  There are always those around us calling us out to come see what they have to offer.  At first our looking at the alluring goods being offered might cause just a stumble but we keep going along, checking out the fascinating things being offered.  It really couldn’t hurt. We can walk on rocks for goodness sake. Then the further we go, the rockier it gets until next thing we know we are slipping down.  We might try to grab the sides of this hill or embankment, but it won’t hold us. It’s slippery and full of falling rocks.  We try everything in our sight that we were looking at before to grab onto but to no avail. None of those calling to us will help, either.  They are standing there laughing at us and calling us a fool.  And they are right, we are fools.

Only when we look up and see Abba Father standing at the top with His outstretched hands and loving eyes that we realize He is the only one that can keep us from continuing to fall further and further.  We realize we went much further than we planned to go.  When we finally look into His eyes and grab His hand, He tells us to keep looking at Him and not to look back.  He is the Way, the Only Way, we can keep from continuing to be tricked by the evil ones and totally fall into the chasm of emptiness and nothingness where there is only blackness and misery.  If we look back, just for a peek, our hand starts to slip so we must keep our eyes on Him to get off this steep hill we are falling down.

When He finally pulls us to the top we realize we are cut and bruised.  Abba tells us not to think about it anymore because now He doesn’t see any cuts and bruises.  Our stumble is forgiven and forgotten.  He continues to tell us to keep our eyes on Him as we walk along and He will keep us from slipping.  As we walk along, He not only keeps us from falling but He also give us encouragement, peace, grace, love, joy, and so much more.  He shows us we are surrounded by beauty and teaches us how to be content with all He has provided for us.  Then one beautiful day as we are walking along with Him, He takes us by the hand and leads us to His home – the most beautiful place we could never even imagine and escorts us into our very own beautiful mansion, built just for us where we can live for all eternity in perfect peace; where we can praise Him day and night for all He has done for us; and where there are no tears.

You see, when we start to fall, if we don’t look up and grab the hand of Abba and leave everything else behind we thought we wanted, the evil ones will take us farther than we want to go, keep us longer than we want to stay, and cost us more than we want to pay.  I don’t know about you, but to my way of thinking the best route is to keep my eyes on Abba Father and walk with Him on down the path He leads me as I close my eyes and ears to the alluring and tempting things. Oh, they will continue to call and entice me but I love the idea of grabbing His hand when I don’t know what to do and letting Him hold onto me as we walk along.

Trust

I read a quote that said something like one lie puts doubt on anything else said.  I agree. Lying to someone, especially someone you love, or are supposed to love, is just so very hurtful.  I know. It has happened to me.  It hurts – some days or nights more than others.  But, in all of this tragedy I have found a new hope.  I have come back to God and realized He never lies, He always loves me no matter what I do, He protects me – He is my all in all Savior.  Why would I ever wander away from something so special and loving and just plain wonderful as a close relationship with God?

Well, I think the answer lies in the words “focus”  and “lies.” When we focus on something then that thing is what we want more and more each time we look at it, whether physically look such as yearning for something or emotionally such as when we focus on another person.  I know about that first hand as well,  I did that.  Focused on someone when I should have been focusing on the Lord.  I thought I was focusing on the Lord as well.  Funny how Satan worms his way through our lives and mixes things all up, twists and turns things, and the next thing you know, you are convincing yourself that up is down and down is up, that wrong is right and right is wrong!  Yea, been there and done that, as well.  So then come the lies.  First there are the lies to yourself about what you are doing and that it is okay.  Then, there are the lies to the one you are hurting as well as others all around you.  Everything is great.  You’re happy, happier than you’ve been in years and years.  So what is so wrong with that?  Why can’t we grab a little happiness in this life?  After all, we work hard, read our Bible, we deserve a little happiness.  Yea, been there and done that, too.

What’s wrong is that anything that goes against the Word of God is flat out wrong – no questions, no arguing, it’s wrong.  And He will let us go along as we get further and further away from him.  Oh there is the occasional Bible reading or reading a devotional book for a couple of days but not like it used to be.  We are getting farther and farther away until the next thing we know nearly everything we do is just not according to God’s plan for us.  Finally, after awhile when we don’t “straighten up” He gives us a nudge.  Now sometimes the nudges are light touches, like when something like “You need to be reading your Bible” just pops in our brain out of nowhere.  No, not out of nowhere, that’s God’s nudge.  And when those light touches don’t work then it seems like He really goes to work and everything we had fallen into doing and enjoying starts to fall apart.  Relationships fall apart.  Our emotions fall apart, even to the point of severe depression and thoughts of suicide.  We keep struggling to get back what we lost but we are struggling to get back the wrong thing.  We struggle to get back that which started this whole downhill spiral that so saddened God.  We try and plan and struggle and do all we can to get it back.  Alas, sometimes it can’t be gotten back, like when Camelot fell – there was no getting it back like it was. And even if you are able to patch things and make them look like they were, I’m sadly to say that you can ever go back. You can look back and learn from your mistakes.  You can even start anew but what was is gone never to be again.   And that all started with a lie.

What God wanted us to start focusing on was Himself and His Word.  That was the point of it all.  Some of us are just slower than others and I think I’m one of those slower ones.  But I finally got it.  I finally realized you can’t go back and you can’t patch it.  You just have to leave that behind and start anew and see what God has for you in the future, but all the while focusing on Him and HIs Word.  As I started with my morning devotions again – whenever I finally realized I needed to clean my glasses and focus on God – more and more God spoke to me.  I read the Bible more.  I love studying it again. It’s all coming back now, the way it was when God and I were so close.  I realized how much I have missed him. But it wasn’t him that stepped away, it was me.  God is always there right where He says He will be.  It is us that walk away, sometimes just tiptoeing along, picking daisies and not ever realizing we are getting further and further away from God as Satan calls us along to pick more daisies. I’m sad to say, however, those daisies are beautiful for awhile but they do wilt and die.  I know – been there done that.

All of the pain started with a lie. Just one little lie. And that lie grew bigger and bigger.  Then another lie similar that crushes the heart.  If you really think hard, what started all of this treacherous behavior in the first place?  Where did we learn to lie so good?  If we will go back to the beginning, Genesis, we read where Satan lied to Eve and deceived her.  Then she blamed Adam then Adam blamed the serpent and around and around we go, lying to ourselves, being deceived again as Satan keeps it going.  When we finally stand up to Satan and stop all of this foolishness, our hearts break for all we have lost.  For the years we could have been drawing closer to God and serving Him are lost.  The people we might have introduced to Christ, opportunities are gone.  All that happiness we thought we had all of a sudden isn’t so happy.  We have to pay the piper, so to speak.  We have consequences to all we do, good or bad, and in this case it’s the bad.  Most often those consequences are very hurtful and hard to go through.  But, when we finally break through to walk with God again, that’s when we find true joy and happiness.  The world cannot give us lasting happiness.  Using lies cannot bring us happiness.  Only God can bring us happiness.

Remembering Something We’ve Already Heard

Thankfulness.  Gratefulness.  I think most of us think about it at least more this time of year, November, than any other time of year.  But, I wonder what would happen if we thought about it this much all year long.  Now, I know people have said that many times before me, for sure.  I also know many people have started “thankfulness jars” or named it many other things.  How many things would we would have in there this year had we started it last year?  I would hope that it would be full with 365 pieces of paper in there where we have been thankful for something every day of the year.  Maybe we would be thankful for the same thing some days.  I think it would be interesting to check that jar or box in a year and see not only how many papers are in there but read them and see what is in there.  We don’t have to have a big family, we don’t have to have kids, we just have to have ourselves, individually.  We can have the jar beside our bed to remind us each night to think about what we’re thankful for.  You know, sometimes I’m not just thankful for something tangible but sometimes I’m thankful for the intangible.  Things like the ability to forgive someone who hurt me, a big laugh, a big cry to let something out, the ability to smile even when things go wrong.  I guess as long as we can move and/or think, we really do have so much to be thankful for.

If we forget about it because we get busy, which we can be thankful for, we can start this jar or even re-start it any time of the year.  Maybe putting a date on each piece of paper we put in the jar would be fun so we can look back and remember that time of year when we were thankful for that particular thing.

I know that after being hurt so bad as I have been I have to really force myself to be thankful for anything.  I just want my life back.  But, maybe God has something much better than that life.  Maybe someone who will treat me more tenderly.  Maybe a ministry of some kind.  Or, maybe just to be – for if others can see how I am looking to God for my happiness instead of anything or anyone else they will see that God is enough.  I told God that back in 1999.  I remember it exactly.  I told God while in the shower as I was crying about my situation, I finally broke and said, “You are enough, God, you are enough.”  Then I think I said something like no matter where I am You are enough.  I can look back and see how I got complacent and forgot that promise.  I can look back and see so many mistakes.  I can look back and look back and look back.  But when you are looking back you can’t go forward – with anything.

I do have to say here that every since I was a little girl I have liked romance movies of all kinds and I thought that in real life you can have “movie” romance.  I see now that it is just in the movies and is wonderful to watch but if there is anyone out there that is like me, be careful.  You can make a lot of mistakes by believing real life is anything like the movies.  I really don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble here.  There may be rare occasions when life can be or is a fairytale.  For you, congratulations and don’t ever take it for granted or let it get old.

I just had to put that paragraph in there.  Maybe it wasn’t exactly at the right spot but it was something I felt I needed to say – if for nothing else but for myself.   But, now that I hopefully have that all straightened out in my head and am trying very hard to listen to God, my life is going to turn around, start going forward straight to God, and count for something!

Wilted Lilies

I was out dead-heading my lilies today (picking off the dead, wilted blooms) and just decided to stop a minute and really take a look at that particular flower.

Our lilies are quite beautiful.  I am fortunate enough that I have several different colors and sizes.  Mind you, I’m no horticulturist by any stretch of the imagination and we’re lucky I even know these are lilies but I took one of the withered, damp blooms in hand and began to look at it.  The petals were all twisted around itself.  When I turned it over I noticed that it looked hollow inside, right where the stem was attached.  Of course, that in and of itself got me to thinking about how sometimes, for various and sundry reasons, we as humans feel kind of empty inside.  I know I do from time to time.

I began to slowly and carefully peel back the petals to see what they would show me.  Believe me when I say it was like peeling back damp vellum but I finally managed to see the stamen, all droopy looking and, of course, without pollen.  I continued peeling back the petals more and more, revealing more stamen.  The petals were really wrapped around each other so I had to be careful not to tear them.  By now, my interest had really peaked as I was thinking how the other side of this droopy petal was empty and hollow.  As I got each petal separated, I found one part of the stamen that was almost wet.  Was that from last night’s rain or the dew this morning?

I realize I could not, of course, bring this bloom back to its original beauty but, as I often do, I began to think about life and do some comparing.  (I do realize this is a bit of a stretch but it is the path my ever meandering mind was taking me.)  I wonder how many times we feel empty and hollow when if we would just look up and take hold of whatever it is we need to fill back up with and keep going.  Fortunately we can do that and not stay wilted.  Funny thing is, I was out there dead-heading because I was empty, hollow, and weary, finding it hard to put one foot in front of the other.  Another lesson learned.