The Long Days of Summer

Here it is August and the summer is steadily drawing to a close. Where has it gone?  Now, don’t get me wrong…I am not a lover of hot weather.  I could be very happy with the 80’s all summer, so the cooler weather that comes with fall is something I look forward to.  But I DO love the long days of sunshine! Cool summer evenings taking a walk or sitting on the front porch chatting and sipping some lemonade. These rate way up there with things I love – and things I long for other times of the year.

The word I want to focus on is “long”, but not in terms of how many days summer spans or how long the sunlight last during these days. It is rather, that no matter how long the days are in terms of sunlight, they are never more than 24 hours. And…somehow, for me, those 24 hours are never long enough to get everything done that is there before me begging to be done.

Do you feel the same way? Busyness and chaotic schedules are nothing new.  Not to me; not to most people – and, I suspect, not to you. We listen to messages, read books and re-prioritize our schedules trying to make more room in them. These days the term is “margins”. We are encouraged to create extra space in and around each page of our life.

How are you doing with creating those spaces? I am a sad failure at it, and more than that, the pages of my book are actually running into the gutters. So, what should I do about it – and what great advice am I going to blog here for you? The answer to both of those questions is “I don’t know”.

It seems that much of my crazy life is simply the result of too many wonderful people, opportunities and obligations. Does that sound like I am not just living a crazy life, but that I have gone crazy? Let me explain: I am blessed to have a father who is nearly ninety-four, a sweet  ten-week old grandson…and many wonderful relatives between the two. And, of course, my husband of nearly forty-three years who is always at my side is part of the count. I also have great friends who are living life with me. All these people simply take time.  Time well spent…albeit it is still time. Then there are the opportunities that come my way everyday. At sixty-one my bucket list continues to grow. Not for the wild, outrageous, are and/or expensive things of life – but rather for the chance to help someone, somewhere every single day from the knowledge and experiences my life has…and will afford me. I find myself fairly bursting with things I still want to learn to do to grow my knowledge in hopes of offering help and hope. Finally, there are the wonderful obligations of life that crush in on me. Why are they wonderful? Because I am blessed with work that pays me decently and clients who treat me with dignity and fairness. Of course, many of life’s obligation do not seem wonderful…such as needy neighbors, mindless chores, and urgent responsibilities that can nearly suffocate me. But, put in the proper prospective even those obligations are wonderful because they mean I am alive and have the health to meet them.

So, it would seem that even though I don’t have the answer for myself, or you, on how to make these long summer days hold anything less in them…I have managed to get some insight that will help me face another crammed day with new vigor.   Perhaps it will you, also.

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A Poem: “HOPE”

imgresI found this poem in one of my newsletter I put out several years ago for women journeying through cancer and wanted to share it with you.
Hope is a candle in the night
Hope is a long respite
Hope is a feather…once lifted, it’ll only get higher
Hope is an oasis in a desert
Hope is a diamond in the dirt
                                Hope is everywhere yet hope is scarcely there
                                Hope is the dream of better days
                                Hope is the passion ablaze
                                Hope is beautiful
                                …and hope is tranquil
                                Hope is there for everyone
                                It is an asset that ALL has in abundance
                                       Copyrighted – Melvin T
The source of our HOPE is God and faith in Him.  May your week be filled with hope as you focus on the source of your hope.

I Haven’t Been Practicing What I Preach

Practice what you Preach

I have been struggling the last couple of months with the circle of life.

Within just 36 hours of my mother’s death we were overjoyed with the announcement that our first grandchild was on its way.  But somewhere
in the midst of the emotional roller coaster of life, during those days, I found myself dealing with feelings that I didn’t even know were there. Feelings of discouragement and disappointment and disenchantment.  Brutally honest rantings with God regarding MY choices for the end of my own life.  I want to leave this earth for my heavenly home while I am still a vital part of society and my family.  I don’t want to be a burden and overstay my welcome here below.  …sound familiar?

This week while struggling to pray, in this emotional state, the Holy Spirit whispered “you are thinking too much of the creation and not enough of the Creator”.  What a hard pill to swallow – not just because it was true…but because I have admonished and encouraged women I mentor and teach to not think more of themselves, as the created, than they do of their Creator!   …yet I was doing exactly that…and it somehow felt justified.  After all, with all that has transpired in my life these last several months; wasn’t what I was feeling just part of being human? Yes! But it really was nothing more than a “righteous” pity-party.  I say “righteous” because I really did desire to be “morally right” and focus on God and not on myself – but in the midst of real-life events and human emotions and feelings….I lost sight of my Creator.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that I am over all these feelings now and thinking only of God.  What I am saying is that I am choosing to place my focus in a different place than I have been.  I do not know what life will look like for me in the next moment, hours, days, month and years.  AND, even if I saw it all I wouldn’t understand or comprehend what my Creator was doing in, and through, my life.  That is what we grasp for.  But for all our grasping, we come away empty-handed with bleeding fingertips.  God says “the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep my heart and mind through Christ Jesus”. Phil 4:7   There is only one way to have that peace.  It is not focusing on me, myself and I!

If you have followed my blog much you know that I love the words to old hymns.  I found myself quietly singing the words to the last verse of “My Jesus I Love Thee” while lying in bed last night.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

The only way I will “love my Creator God in life and in death” is by thinking more of Him and less of myself.  This is my constant prayer and HOPE.

“What Cancer Cannot Do” – a poem

I want to share a poem with you that I have repeated many times over the last twenty years.  The author is unknown, but you can tell he/she deeply understood the subject matter.  Before sharing the poem with you, I want to share how I came to first read it.

In January of 1995, just five months following my cancer diagnosis, my husband’s paternal grandparents sent this poem to me in a get-well card.  At the time they were in their late eighties.  Grandma lost both her mother and father to cancer when she was just thirteen!  They had watched their friends and family struggle with cancer over the years.  However, my battle seemed to hit them both very hard.  They had given money faithfully to a well-known cancer organization from the time they were married in 1920 in hope of seeing a cure for cancer.  Having their grandson’s wife diagnosed with cancer seventy-five years later was almost more than they could bear.  I believe the list of what cancer can’t do brought much hope to them and they wanted to share that hope with me.

Now, it is my turn to share that hope with each of you!

“What Cancer Cannot Do”
Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love,
It cannot shatter hope,
It cannot corrode faith,
It cannot destroy peace,
It cannot kill friendship,
It cannot suppress memories,
It cannot silence courage,
It cannot invade the soul,
It cannot steal eternal life,
It cannot conquer the Spirit.

If that doesn’t give you cause to shout for joy and cry tears of gladness – nothing will.

I am so thankful that ever one of these things is true – but, the one that I like more than all the rest is the fact that cancer CANNOT steal my eternal LIFE.  I have been cancer free for nearly 20 years now, but if I had died then…or, if I were to recur and still die of it eventually – my eternal life is not in jeopardy.

John 3:16 says it all.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everylasting life.” – NKJV

We are born and we die.  Those are the only two things we all experience!  If you are dealing with cancer right now, or have someone you love who is…share this poem with them.  I feel confident it will make the journey easier.  But if you need the confidence to know that you have a future in heaven spending eternity with God, I invite you to read the entire book of John.  You can also go to my website: http://www.bridges2beauty.net and fill out a contact form to chat with me and/or pray with me.

 

 

 

Encouragement and Enrichment from Hymns of Old – Part I

old hymnal …a series on words/phrases from old hymns to encourage and enrich.  
“Sweetest Name”

I have had a certain phrase rolling over in my mind these past few days from the old hymn “Sweetest Name”.  It has been such a blessing to me and I wanted to share it with you.  However, before I could get this post written, we had communion at church – and one of the songs the pianist played was “Wonderful Grace of Jesus”.  As I inwardly sang the words she played the melody to so beautifully, I realized that this hymn also had words that encourage and enrich.  …and so begins a short series.

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know; fills my every longing…keeps me singing as I go.”  This is the final phrase of the chorus of “Sweetest Name” – a hymn written by Luther Bridgers in 1910.

I want to focus on just the middle four words “fills my every longing” because I believe most of us have at least one longing – and probably more than one.

Longing is defined as a yearning desire.  And yearning is synonymous with craving, ache, burning, hunger, thirst. Each of those words create vivid word pictures…some similar – and some quite different from each other.  To yearn is often used when referring to emotions and relationships; a craving can be associated with addictions; and to ache – well, that is used to describe emotions and relationships, but it also brings up thoughts of chronic illness and pain.  To burn, connotes discomfort of some sort or an insatiable desire; while hunger and thirst both make one immediately physically or spiritually hungry or thirsty when they contemplate the word.

I believe it will take just a few seconds for you to identity at least one longing you currently have.  You probably have several.  Whether relational, spiritual, physical, emotional or a combination – this word L-O-N-G-I-N-G is such a perfect description of itself.  A longing is not easily or quickly satisfied…it is long in coming, and perhaps will not be satisfied in a way we thought it would or should.

Then how in the world can a songwriter be so bold as to write that Jesus can, and does, “fill my EVERY longing“?  Mr Bridgers was acquainted with longing.  He was a minister who lost his wife and children in a fire while he was away visiting aging parents in 1910. That same year he wrote this song.  He knew…and wanted others to know, (you and me) that his yearning desire, his constant craving, his aching heart, his burning wish, his hunger and his thirst to have his beloved family back – had been realized, filled, satiated and completed by Jesus!

Did that mean he just suddenly stopped grieving and/or never thought of his lost family again?  Oh, I can’t imagine that was the case. I DO know that it meant that he knew within the deepest parts of his being that His God and Savior understood, cared and had supplied the grace and hope that satisfied.

Remember when I wrote “A longing is not easily or quickly satisfied…it is long in coming, and perhaps will not be satisfied in a way we thought it would or should”?  As humans we reason, rationalize and try to fix things ourselves or make things happen. However, Jesus satisfies our longing(s) when we trust Him with them, knowing that our human way of looking at things is short-sighted, often irrational and imperfect at its very best.  His ways are never short-sighted, never irrational and always perfect!  Jesus satisfies our longings when we place our focus, whether consciously or sub-consciously, on Him and His ways.

I have often told others that when I write I am so blessed myself – and, this is one of those times when I am finding it nearly impossible to stay at the computer because my soul is bursting with joy and hope because of who Jesus is and what He has done, is doing and will do for myself and others during my lifetime.  I want to simultaneously jump up and down, run around, drop to my knees in adoration and utter words of gratitude and praise to my Lord and Savior – the God of Heaven and Earth!

Perhaps I digress, but think of the words to another song with me for a moment:
“Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew, Cover it with choc’late and a miracle or two
The Candy Man, oh the Candy Man can – The Candy Man can ’cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good.”
A dewy sunrise covered in chocolate and miracles – now that’s sweet!

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know; fills my every longing…keeps my singing as I go.”

How much sweeter to have my longings satisfied!  Jesus, your name truly is the sweetest name I know.