As a teacher, one of the tools I use is a lesson plan book to help order the day. After thirty-five years of teaching, I retire at the end of this school year. How will I spend my days now? No matter where I am in life, I have lessons to learn. And, to truly live well, I must depend on God to write the lessons in my plan book.
Absolutely. Positively. Definitely. 100% sure.
I used to think I knew without doubt how to be a wife. A mother. A woman of God. But the older I get the less I know.
Well, not really. But what I was absolutely, positively, definitely sure of in my twenties and thirties, even my forties and fifties, no longer seems quite so crystal clear in my sixties.
I struggle with that a little. Sometimes a lot. Crystal clear seems easier than murky and unsure. I feel comfortable when I can see where I want to go and the best way to get there.
Oops. I feel comfortable when I can see where I want to go and what I think is the best way to get there.
Those words-I want and I think is the best way-define a way of thinking that puts me in the driver’s seat. My plan. My way. Left to my own devices, I make a bee-line to my own goal like a kid doing a cannonball in a pool of people. I only see myself and my own agenda. Anyone-their plans, feelings, and needs-get lost when I close my eyes and jump without thinking.
God tries to teach me over and over again I need His plan and His way. And that means trusting Him even when that plan isn’t crystal clear to me.
I Am Absolutely, Positively, 100% Sure of God’s Plan
I can say with confidence God’s plan is
- for good (Romans 8:28)
- for my welfare and to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11)
- wonderful (Isaiah 28:29)
The only thing I need to be sure of is who holds me in the shelter of His wings. Who knows me better than I know myself. Loves me unconditionally. All. The. Time.
I know exactly where I’m going and how I’ll get there. Through the love and grace of God. That is crystal clear.
Time for #fiveminutefriday with Kate Motaung
I carry a burden. One of my own making. A distance in a relationship I treasure. Instead of holding my tongue, I said rude, unnecessary words, causing hurt. I’ve done it more than once.
And while I asked for and received forgiveness, the wound remains. “I need a break,” I hear. Guilt and remorse flood my heart and mind, threatening my peace and joy. I keep returning to what I could have, should have, done.
What can I, should I do now? I worry about it, fretting, certain nothing will ever be the same. I drive myself crazy.
In my current Bible study, Broken and Redeemed, I find the answer in Psalm 55:22, Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you.
Cast My Burden
To cast my burden means to
- throw away
- get rid of
And isn’t that exactly what I want to do?
My burden is heavy. It tires me. Makes me bone-weary. Irritated. Worried. My entire countenance shows that I carry a burden. I want to throw it away, get rid of it forever. I want to separate it from me as far as the east is from the west.
But no matter what I do, the burden returns. Even when I try to put it out of my mind with a trip to the beach, losing myself in a book, or buying new shoes, it follows, robbing me of the peace and joy I seek.
Since I can’t rid myself of my burden, I long for someone to help me. Relieve the stress, fear, restless spirit my burden causes me.
Who can I share this burden with? Where can I go for help?
The Lord. He willingly takes my burden, but I must be willing to give it to Him. Cast it not just anywhere, but to Him.
But He does more than remove my burden.
He Sustains Me
Sustain means He
- gives strength to
- buoys up
The burden causes sorrow, regret, fear, confusion. God understands my feelings, and He comforts me. I can bring my burden to Him with tears and remorse, and God offers patience, love, and mercy. He reminds me of His faithfulness and goodness in past troubles and promises He continues to work for my good.
When I don’t know what to do next, God helps me. He gives the words to say to the one I hurt. If I don’t know how or when to apologize, He provides the humility, the words, even the right tone of voice. And once I’ve done my part, He gives me patience to wait.
I may wonder how I can possibly go back into a difficult situation, and He encourages me by reminding I am a daughter of the King, beloved, forgiven. Free. The strength I need to take the first step and the next one comes from God.
At times, I feel the waves may crash over me, keeping me under the water until I drown. Self-incrimination. Self-doubt. God buoys me up, keeping me safe. He carries me back to the shore and restores me, first to Himself, and then to others.
While I wait on God to work in my heart and the heart of the one I hurt, He buoys me up, heartens me with His promises. His love. His care.
Let Him sustain you. Cast your burden on the Lord. He will sustain you.
On Friday, February 17, my mom passed away. She had been sick for almost two years. Today, Mom rejoices in heaven. All of her pain, gone. She sees her Savior face to face and casts her crown at His feet. The best parts of me are because of the lessons I learned from Mom. I will miss her all the rest of my days, but the things Mom taught me are a legacy of her unconditional love.
All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned from my mom. Wisdom was not found in school, but in the day-to-day examples set by Mom at home.
Lessons I Learned from Mom
Be faithful to God
Every day, Mom took the Methodist daily devotional, the Upper Room, and her Bible and spent time alone with God. But she didn’t leave the Word in between the pages, she lived the lessons she read there. She prayed for her family and friends. Mom was faithful to go to church her whole life, but she didn’t just sit in the pew. She served however she could: making soup, filling communion cups, being on committees. And she encouraged her sisters, Sandy and Bev to go to church with her.
Give others the gift of yourself
Mom gave love, kindness, and caring in so many ways. She helped others even if she had something else to do. If someone couldn’t drive, she picked them up and drove them to church or to the market. She baked Christmas cookies and fudge and gave them away. She called people who were alone.
Put your family first
Mom would go without so we kids had whatever we needed. She made sure that there were treats like a candy bar on Sunday afternoon when we stopped at Joe’s Italian Store to get the weekly pasta. Mom opened her home for Christmas, Easter, birthdays, and holidays so the whole family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins—could be together. She and Daddy took my daughters, Kim and Erin, on vacations to Yosemite and Sequoia. When Erin lived in Hemet, she brought Zach and Katie to Mom’s every week to use the washing machine and take the kids swimming.
Let your children be who they are
Mom encouraged each of her three children. She went to every tap dance recital, Girl Scout badge ceremony, mother-daughter tea, and basketball game. To keep me supplied with the books I craved, she drove me to the library every week. But she didn’t freak out when she realized I went into the bathroom every night after dinner to read and then hid the book in the hamper. She made me stop reading until after the dishes were done though!
Never stop learning and growing as a person
Take risks and venture outside your comfort zone. She traveled with Daddy to the Orient and Europe. When she first moved to Sun Lakes, she took swimming lessons. For twenty years, Mom loved doing aerobics with her friends. At seventy-five, she got a computer and a tablet and kept up with friends and family on Facebook.
Make life-long friends
Mom and her friend, Marilynn, met in elementary school. In their fifties, they started weekend adventures several times a year. When I was in elementary school, Mom and her friend Alice met for coffee every morning after the housework was done. Alice moved to New York fifty years ago, but last month, Mom and Alice chatted by phone. Mom looked forward to her Breakfast Club every Friday, and every year on her birthday showed me all the cards she received, “And not one is a duplicate,” she said with amazement. She loved her newest friend, Laura, deeply. Mom was delighted when she got Laura to eat broccoli and fresh cranberries and watch Call the Midwife. And Mom’s life was enriched by Laura’s care.
Never give up on yourself or others, keep trying
Even in pain, Mom made her bed every morning. She tried chair aerobics when she couldn’t do her regular aerobics any more. She liked reading the paper with a cup of coffee while she enjoyed the beautiful view out her kitchen window. “God is always good,” Mom said constantly. “He’s given me a great life.”
My life is better because of Mom and the lessons she taught me. She never said I needed to know these things; this was how she lived.
Her example and her love will always be with me. They are the best parts of me. The lessons I learned from Mom are gifts I will treasure and use forever.
Thank you, Mom. I love you.
Get home! I raced down the hall toward the parking lot. My heels clattered down the quiet walkway. No middle schoolers flooded the hall; school ended an hour ago. I stayed for a meeting, but I needed to be home for an appointment and to get dinner for Van before he left for BSF. My brain said, hurry! Get home!
Keys in hand, I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful blue sky, dotted with fluffy, white clouds. An unusually rainy winter for southern California meant a soggy, gray day, but now a stiff breeze moved the clouds across the sky.
I opened the car door, took one more grateful look, and stopped. Froze really. In the hedge just a few inches from the hood of my car rested a bird. His feathers ruffled in the light wind, but except for turning his head, the bird didn’t move.
Holding my breath, I held onto the car door, reached into my purse, and groped until my fingers closed on my phone. Please, don’t move, I begged.
Amazingly, he didn’t. I zoomed in. Click.
He still didn’t move. In fact, he seemed content to stay perched on the hedge, watching the world go by. Thank You, God, I whispered.
I stood there several minutes. Enraptured. Flooded with gratitude that this lovely gift stayed. Another bird joined him for a brief second, but even after the second bird took off, he continued to take in his surroundings, content to stay in his spot.
I don’t know what made that bird feel safe enough to stay on the hedge. Why didn’t he take flight when I came racing to my car? No matter the reason, I still feel joy deep in my heart when I look at my pictures (and I’m especially thankful for the “live” feature on my phone so I can see the wind ruffling his feathers, his head slowly moving as he observed his world).
But I know what makes me feel safe. Safe enough to stay and observe my world.
No matter what ruffles my feathers. Whether I’m alone or have others near. In blue skies and storms. I am always safe because of Jesus. Like my bird friend, I can watch the world, decide when to go and when to stay. Enjoy the gentle breeze. Because I am never alone, but always in the Presence of my Savior and my King.
It’s been a long time since I participated in a Five Minute Friday hosted by Kate Montaung. Every Friday, she offers a prompt and invites writers to take 5 minutes to write whatever comes to mind. Click on the link and be inspired by what others have to say about this week’s word: SAFE