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Blessings – Keep Your Eyes Open and Palms Up!

April 1, 2017

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Unfortunately, we live in a broken world, and grief is something we must endure at times.  God understands sorrow.  The beautiful irony of our sorrow and sufferings is that God, who is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, longs to comfort us. Are you hurting?  Has sorrow seemed to move in and

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blessings in disguise

That dreaded text message arrived from my dearest friend, Jodi, last Monday. “Daddy passed on at 6:20.  It was peaceful and easy…”  Blessings.

This precious daughter and her siblings had just endured one of the most difficult journeys a child has to face – letting go of their only remaining parent.  Yet she was able to do so with her palms up, receiving every single blessing the Father had for her along the way, and recognizing that they came from Him.

She shared stories with me of things her daddy said to the family during those last weeks.  Some were hilarious, others very profound and moving.  Her daddy accepted Jesus in those last weeks.  No other blessings outshine that!

Even in the midst of her pain, Jodi saw the blessings and grabbed them, giving thanks to God for each and every one!

road trippin’

I headed south just after noon that Friday to be with Jodi.  There’s something particularly weird about my road trips that I can’t escape.  Seems like no matter how I plug in a trip to Maps, I end up taking the long, scenic route.  Every.  Single.  Time.  This trip would be no exception.  God had taken me down the exact road I needed to be on, and He met me there!

Some of my best times with God are spent in the car!  With Pandora blasting out Hillsong United and NeedtoBreathe through my speakers, I can truly get my worship on.  This is a really good thing since I spend almost two hours out of every single workday in my car, not to mention other travels.

So, as I belted out “Holy Spirit, you are welcome here. Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere,” He did!  Not only was Holy Spirit present with me in that car, the whole earth sang of God’s glory for as far as my eye could see!

bluebonnets

Springtime is one of the most glorious times in Texas because that’s when the bluebonnets paint the roadside.  If you don’t believe we love our bluebonnets, you just drive down a Texas highway this time of year.  City slickers and country folk alike will come to screeching halts on the shoulder of the busiest highways for a photo opp amidst a cluster of these glorious blue wildflowers.

People who practically bathe their children in hand sanitizer in any other situation will plop those same precious littles down in the middle of a patch of bluebonnets for the quintessential bluebonnet picture.  It’s a real thing with us, and we don’t care how many stickers (translation: “grass burs,” “goat heads,” “cockle burs,” etc.), fire ant beds, or rattlesnake dens we have to cross to get to those bluebonnets!  We Texans are dedicated!

Now, to the horticulturists who prefer a more structured garden, bluebonnets and other wildflowers are just weeds.  I really don’t understand those people, but to each his own.

hill country

Friend, if you’ve never been to the Texas Hill Country in late March to mid-April, then you truly have not seen God’s handiwork.  I’m just saying…  As beautiful as the bluebonnets and other wildflowers are near home, they pale in comparison to those in the Texas Hill Country.  The ditches and fields for as far as the eye can see are spattered with hues of blue, pink, yellow, red, white, and even purple.  It’s like driving through a living Monet, Texas-style.

The Hill Country is…well, quite hilly.  (We are also very creative when labeling our geographical regions.)  Some of my favorite features of this area include the trees, stock tanks (ponds if you ain’t from around here), and how incredibly green everything is.  Not to mention the wildflowers.  It just seems so ALIVE!

As I drove down that winding FM road, the sheer glory of God’s presence engulfed me!  Cows plodded through the fields – some with bulging bellies, ready to calf; others stood and grazed as their new calves suckled.  Trees unlocked their arms to reveal the rolling, green pastures speckled with multicolored blooms.  Ducks glided lazily on the ponds, dipping their heads occasionally as a snack swam by.  It was like a dream!

Then, it began to rain.  Just a light shower, but enough to keep me in the car.  (Hey!  I’m a romantic, but I can’t stand cold water to sprinkle on me.)  And then the rainbow appeared!  “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” (Genesis 9:13). Can you imagine how breathtaking that very first rainbow must’ve been for Noah and his family?

recognizing the blessings

I’m so thankful I drove down that road that day with my eyes wide open (literally and figuratively.  I tend to worship with my eyes closed).  Had I been distracted, I might have missed all that beauty around me.  On road trips with the mailman, I’m often looking at the screen of my phone, completely oblivious to what’s going on around me.  Heck!  It seems like that’s what we, as a society, do on a daily basis – stare at our phones while life happens all around us.  Just think of all the blessings we miss because of those tiny screens!

My precious friend greeted me with a big embrace that evening.  As she shared the bittersweet memories surrounding her daddy’s final days on this earth, she counted all the beautiful blessings the Father poured upon her and her family.  You see, Jodi traveled that road with her eyes wide open, searching for God in the midst of that sorrow…and He showed up!

On Saturday, we enjoyed a drive deeper into the Hill Country to Round Top and Warrenton to do a little wandering.  A few treasures were found, but mostly we just enjoyed our time together.  There are miles and miles of “one man’s trash” to be seen in the fields during Antique Week, and many blessings hidden within.

junky-blessings

We took a little time to wander over to Round Top and Warrenton.

comfort is not just a tiny Texas town

I love Isaiah 61:1-3! “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all those who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that he may be glorified.” (ESV, emphasis mine).

Unfortunately, we live in a broken world, and grief is something we must endure at times.  God understands sorrow.  The beautiful irony of our sorrow and sufferings is that God, who is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, longs to comfort us.  And THEN, we are able to comfort others during their affliction with the same mercy and love God showed us!  (see 2 Cor. 1:3-4).

come to the altar

Are you hurting?  Has sorrow seemed to move in and make itself at home in your heart?  There is a Comforter who desires to heal your broken heart. Are you willing to let Him in?

I’ve been guilty of saying things like, “I can’t come to the altar.  I’ve been living so far outside God’s will.  It would be wrong to only come to Him when I’m a mess.”  Have you ever felt like that?  (Gee!  When I read those words on my screen, the starkness of the lie overcomes me!)  Jesus loves us even when ESPECIALLY when we’re a red, hot mess!  He came to save the lost!  He came to comfort.  He longs to bless us.

Beloved, Jesus is waiting for you! Will you surrender your sorrow to Him?  Will you open the eyes of your heart and take in the sights of His glory?

Music is the language of my soul.  Certain songs just seem to have a way of drawing me closer to the heart of God.  Elevation Worship’s Come to the Altar is a song that has really just spoken to my spirit lately, and I’d like to share it with you here.  Allow the lyrics to penetrate your brokenness and begin a healing in your spirit.

 palms up

As I pulled away from Jodi’s house on Sunday morning, she stood waving good-bye and blowing kisses my way.  I wish I could say her grief is behind her and there will be no more sorrow, but that is simply not true.  She will have good days and bad.  She will probably even have days when her heart feels so broken she doesn’t know if she can stand it.  But I know Jodi.  And Jodi is very much in love with the One who can give her peace.  Jodi sees wildflowers instead of weeds.  She travels through life, eyes wide open and palms up, receiving the blessings of the Father.

 

 

 

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