Archive for the ‘Joy’ Category

Stones of Help, Stones of Fire

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Today is my 52nd Birthday.

Because 52 is such a cool number, and because there are 52 weeks in a year, I’m embarking on Project 52 — reflecting each week on one year of my life.

I’ve also been thinking very much about Healing today.

Ten years ago this summer was when I left Germany, utterly brokenhearted, and moved to Virginia.

Now I am settling in — and I feel Healed. And that’s a wonderful thing.

And I was thinking about I Samuel 7:12, where Samuel sets up a stone as a monument to God’s help. He names it “Ebenezer,” which means “Stone of Help,” and says, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped.”

Today I planned to go to Great Falls, which I did, and pick up a stone to remind me of God’s help. I have some other stones. This one (actually I picked up two) is going to represent Healing.

Here are the stones I chose along with some souvenir playing cards from places I loved. (I played some solitaire tonight using 52 cards at a time. It’s appropriate!)

BirthdayStones

But, rather more amazing — this morning I checked my doorstep (I’d forgotten to check last night), and there was a birthday package! It contained a gift from my generous friend Lauri Ann of beautiful opal earrings.

Opals are special to me because one of my favorite books as a kid was a book written by missionary Isobel Kuhn called Stones of Fire. In it, she compares a Lisu tribeswoman to a fire opal. She talks about how the colors of the opal come from pressure and brokenness.

I love that thought. As I’m thinking about Healing — I declare that my healed broken heart is part of what makes me beautiful.

So my Stones of Fire are also my Stones of Help. They speak to how far God has brought me — and that He has not only Healed me, He used those awful times to make me beautiful.

Three years ago when I went to Great Falls on my birthday, the many great blue herons I saw represented Great Blue Herons of Happiness.

This year, they were back!

GreatBlueFalls1

So the walk in great falls was about Healing and Happiness both.

GreatBlueFalls2

We got amazing views of many, many herons.

GreatBlueFalls3

And here I am modeling my Stones of Fire that represent Healing, with a Great Blue Heron of Happiness behind me.

Opal

Hitherto hath the Lord helped!

Blizzards and Contentment and Trust

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

BlizzardwithCardinal

We had a blizzard last week. I live in the DC area — you might have heard.

I find with a blizzard, people tend to either love it or hate it. I LOVED it!

We had plenty of warning — so my workplace at the library was closed on Friday just in time for me to get home just as the flakes were beginning to fall. Then they continued to fall — extremely thickly — for the next more than 30 hours.

The area isn’t prepared for such a rare event. With 30 hours of heavily falling snow and more than 2 feet of snow on the ground, this did break records. So besides the weekend, when I hadn’t been scheduled to work (but all activities were cancelled), I got Monday and Tuesday off work.

Snow days are gifts of time. Plans get cancelled, and you get to take time out of your routine. This time, for the first time in four years on a snow day, I had my son (newly graduated from college) home with me, so I wasn’t all alone.

After the blizzard ended, on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, I went for a walk through the snow. It was incredible! I love to walk around my lake on a sunny day, but this was a whole new adventure and each day was different.

BreakingTrail3

Mind you, each excursion was so much work, I’d then wipe out my afternoon by taking a nap to recover. There was a part of me that thought I should “use” the time. But it was so worth it.

And I’ve felt good! All my life, I’ve been plagued by headaches — until recently and “the change” — and I haven’t had a headache all month! Not even going out in the cold and snow! Not even with major weather fronts coming through! This all still feels miraculous and wonderful.

And I got time to work on my website and add cool math stuff, and I have a manuscript being considered by an editor, and I’m doing things at work (when we’re open) that make me happy, and life is just very good. And did I mention I got to walk in the snow this week?!!! (And it was so cool!!!)

Blizzard6

All this boils down to — I have been Happy lately. Very Happy and Content.

So I’ve been thinking about Contentment in the context of trust. And, yes, in the context of singleness.

One of those prayer requests I mentioned in my post last month? I’d like to find a new life partner.

But this past week, I’ve been happy and content in the here and now — and I think that helps me to trust.

In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul tells us present our requests to God with thanksgiving — and the result will be peace.

I’ve found this week that it helps me trust that God will bring me good in the future if I focus on how much good God has given me in the present.

I do realize there’s a balance. You want to be content — but you don’t want to be complacent. You want to be thankful for the present, but you don’t want to fail to grow as a person.

For example, I had a wonderful time in the snow. I have a garage and only one car, and I live in a condo which hires a company to clear snow — so I didn’t have to do any shoveling. I was happy about that, maybe too happy — I didn’t help my neighbors much. (In my defense, I’m not really supposed to carry heavy loads since my vertebral artery dissection and stroke four years ago. But that wasn’t really my motivation.)

In the example of looking for a new life partner, it’s good to be content — but how much should I be putting myself out there, looking online or going to meetups? If I happily become a hermit, is my trust in God expecting Him to do a miracle and bring someone into my shell? I do think there’s a balance.

I’ve had a small personal breakthrough in the past few years. I feel like I’ve come a long way in forgiving my ex-husband, and I have friends again who are men — from a variety of settings. I admit, I had generalized some of my anger and was leaning toward the “Men are skunks” view. (It was interesting recently. Something came up that had me shaking my head about “men” — and I was able to trace it back to a specific incident where I was still angry with my ex-husband. Once I took that out and looked at it and did some forgiveness work — it also took out the generalized anger.) And it’s so nice to get past that, and men add something to my life. (Mind you, my girlfriends have ALWAYS been there for me and are the ones who helped me even survive my divorce. But there was a gap in my life.)

There’s a balance in that, too. All these men I’m friends with are either married or for some other reason not an appropriate life partner for me. And it’s easy, in a low moment, to get discouraged by that fact. To jump to the conclusion that it will be impossible to find a nice single Christian man appropriate for me and even God can’t pull it off and start feeling sorry for myself.

But choosing contentment — I can see how those friendships enrich my life and even add male companionship (in a friendly way), which I was missing and does me good. And instead of stressing about the fact that these men aren’t ever going to marry me, I can find a whole lot of joy in what they do bring to my life.

Just yesterday, my sister posted an amazing poem that reaffirmed this idea for me.

We may always love, but we may not always serve.

This also applies to my ex-husband. I had to come to the place where I can love him — yet release him and go on with my life, not wanting to be married to him again. To remember the good, but accept that this is past. If I’ve truly forgiven him, I can still love him and wish him well. But I have had to accept that there is no longer any way I can serve him. (In the past, when I would try to do something nice for him, he definitely didn’t take it in the spirit it was offered.)

I had to see that wanting to serve someone has a selfish side. Can I be happy that so many of my men friends have beautiful relationships with their wives — exactly the sort of relationship I’d like to have with someone?

Well, the answer is that — when I’m content, I can.

And when I’m content, it’s easier to trust that God is going to take care of the future.

And when I’m content, it’s even easier to brush up that online profile and do a little looking. But also not be too horribly disappointed when that man with the interesting profile never answers my message.

It’s all a dance.

I was talking with my son today about being a rule-follower (which I am). He says he likes it when there are clear processes. (Looking for a job after college is not a clear process!)

I think the path of trust is also like that. Not a clear process. A place that needs balance. You want to be content but not complacent.

And then, every now and then, you get a wonderful gift of a Blizzard!

Blizzard4

BreakingTrail5

Reading to Children

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

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Yesterday I posted about reading Fox in Socks for our library’s Seussathon. (I also read The Sneetches and Other Stories, Horton Hatches an Egg, Green Eggs and Ham, and Mr. Brown Can Moo… Can You?)

Reflecting about my long history with Fox in Socks also reminded me how completely part of who I am is a delight in reading to children.

My Mom taught us to read before we were in Kindergarten. But the fact is, with the younger kids, we older ones had a lot to do with that. I learned at a young age that the process of watching a small child learn to read is next to miraculous. And I wanted in on it.

So as a kid, I learned both that being read to is cozy and warm and loving and wonderful, and that doing the reading to a younger child is the same.

Then, of course, I read to my own sons. I married a man who had a wonderful reading aloud voice, and read to the boys as much as I did. (Did I love that about him? Did I actually fall for him when we were reading Winnie-the-Pooh out loud in a group in college? Um, yes I did.)

Now my boys are grown, so there’s no one at home to hold in my lap and read to.

So how lucky am I that I get to do this on my job?!?

Mind you, I’m an introvert. Too frequent programs burn me out fairly quickly. However, the perfect thing about it is that as a manager, I don’t do many programs myself — just enough that I still love it.

Bottom line, I get to read books to children. And I get paid for it. I am a lucky woman!

Delight

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Happy New Year!

I’m thinking about a Theme for 2015 and verses for 2015, and I’m coming up with “Delight.”

I want to especially remember to Delight in the Lord this year. But also remember that He’s said He delights in me.

How amazing is that?

My verses for 2015 were going to be Psalm 37:3-4 —

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the Lord
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

But after looking through all the verses I can find that use the word “Delight” (See below.), I think I will add Zephaniah 3:17 —

The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.

Using my handy-dandy Strong’s Concordance, I want to look at some other verses that use the word “delight.”

I Samuel 15:22 —

But Samuel replied:
“Does the Lord delight in burn offerings and sacrifices
as much as obeying the voice of the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Psalm 1:1-3 —

Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight ins in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

Psalm 16:5-6 —

Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Psalm 18:19 —

He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Psalm 35:9 —

Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord
and delight in his salvation.

Psalm 35:27 —

May those who delight in my vindication
shout for joy and gladness;
may they always say, “The Lord be exalted,
who delights in the well-being of his servant.”

Psalm 37:23-24 —

If the Lord delights in a man’s way,
he makes his steps firm;
though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

Psalm 43:3-4 —

Send forth your light and your truth,
let them guide me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.
Then will I go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.

Psalm 51:16-17 —

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 112:1 —

Praise the Lord.
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
who finds great delight in his commands.

Psalm 119:16 —

I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.

Psalm 119:24 —

Your statutes are my delight;
they are my counselors.

Psalm 119:35 —

Direct me in the path of your commands,
for there I find delight.

Psalm 119:47 —

for I delight in your commands
because I love them.

Psalm 119:77 —

Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.

Psalm 119:92 —

If your law had not been my delight,
I would have perished in my affliction.

Psalm 119:143 —

Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands are my delight.

Psalm 119:174 —

I long for your salvation, O Lord,
and your law is my delight.

Psalm 147:10-11 —

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of a man;
the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Proverbs 11:20 —

The Lord detests men of perverse heart
but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

Proverbs 12:22 —

The Lord detests lying lips,
but he delights in men who are truthful.

Isaiah 61:10-11 —

I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations.

Isaiah 62:4 —

No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
and your land Beulah;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 —

This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches,
but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 15:16 —

When your words came, I ate them;
they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
O Lord God Almighty.

Micah 7:18-19 —

Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Malachi 3:12 —

“Then all the nations will call you blessed,
for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

I Corinthians 13:6 —

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

What will I delight in this year?

And I hope to remember, through thick and thin, that the Lord delights in me.

What will my Father sing over me this year?

Sunday Songs – “Psalm 23” – Peter Furler

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Today I just want to post a song that feels joyful. So here one is:

Our pastor’s been preaching in Malachi. The passage about divorce reminds me what a horrible, rough place I was in just a few years ago. But God promises to be a Witness for a woman who’s left by the husband of her youth. And God has been so faithful. On top of that, a year ago this week, I had a stroke, and it’s been a rough year, healthwise. But for that, too, God has been faithful.

One of the pastor’s main points was that an antidote for discouragement is to remember who you are: Someone loved by God. And that God is with you.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me!

So it’s been an incredibly difficult several years. But right now? All kinds of possibilities are opening up. I’m soon going to be interviewing for not one but two versions of my dream job — Youth Services Manager at a regional library, in two different counties.

I’ve been praying for months about direction. When I came to Virginia, I moved to be near my lifelong friends, figuring I’d stay a couple years while I licked my wounds. Then my son got into the Number One high school in the nation. I got a job as a Librarian as soon as I finished my MLS degree.

Now that my son has graduated, I wondered if I should stay in Virginia. I thought about moving back overseas to another base library, this time on my own steam. I thought about moving to the Pacific northwest, where I have lots of family, and my older son as well. But my church here has become like family.

Then, not one but two Youth Services Manager positions have come open. Both have great things about them. Mind you, I don’t know if I’ll be offered either one, but I’m super excited about the possibilities.

And it makes me think of my favorite verse from Malachi, which I read in church today during the sermon on Malachi:

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.

— Malachi 4:2

What I love about that verse is from my experience living in Leithoefe, Germany. Here’s a picture of the place we lived (front and center). This picture was taken in the summer, and the cows were one pasture further up the hill, but you get the idea: There were cows directly outside our back windows.

The cows in the picture look staid and boring, and that’s the way they almost always looked. If they moved, it was slowly and leisurely.

But that’s not the complete story. During the winter, the cows are kept in the farmer’s barn down the hill. In mid-Spring, once the pasture won’t be a sea of mud, the farmer puts the cows back into the pasture. One year, we were looking out the window when the cows returned.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. The cows frolicked. They leaped! They danced around that field! Not just the calves, either, but the old, calm, staid mama cows, too. I still wonder if I imagined it, but the sight burned itself on my eyeballs. Those cows were joyful. They were so glad, glad, glad to be out of that barn!

So, I was happy to be reminded of that Malachi verse right now. I’m hoping for a Springtime season in my life for a time.

And I intend to be joyful.

An Opportunity To See What God Will Do

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Today’s sermon resonated with me on several levels.  Our pastor spoke about giving and generosity and money — a very timely topic, since I expect to lose my job in a few months and don’t know what I will do.  I also have filed for divorce and don’t know how the settlement will turn out.  So lots of reasons to worry about money, right?

Pastor Ed spoke from I Timothy 6:6-19 to point out two big lies we believe about money, that hinder our generosity.

Lie #1: We think our provision depends on what we do.

If we depend on ourselves, we’re proud.  Even when we worry because we think we haven’t done enough, we’re showing pride, thinking it’s all up to us.

We shouldn’t be like antique collectors, but like a well-appointed distribution center, accepting gifts from God and passing them on to others.

Lie #2:  We believe that we would be happier if we had more resources.

We put our hope in wealth.  We think we aren’t doing so, but our actions say otherwise.  And that’s foolishness.  Wealth is so uncertain.

Here he talked about putting our hope in our own plans.  He talked about how God gave our church a wonderful piece of property, and we planned to pay for a building by selling two outparcels.  But then the real estate market tanked.  However much we were disappointed is however much we were putting our hope in our plans and not in God.  And then we forget to thank Him for His abundant provision — the gift of the land in the first place.

God’s will often is dynamic.  He often doesn’t show us the whole picture right at the start.  We need to walk with Him step by step.

That part of the message resonated beautifully with what God’s been telling me about my divorce.  As I said in my last post, I felt it was time to file for divorce.  But I still worried if I was lacking in faith, not trusting God enough.  Didn’t God tell me, and confirm and reconfirm, that He was making my husband a leader and a witness, and one day our marriage would be restored?  I prayed about it.  I thought this was the right step, but how could filing for divorce be following God’s leading?  Was I just lacking in faith?

Then one day, when I was reading in Hebrews 11, a phrase jumped out at me from the part talking about Abraham sacrificing Isaac.  He did that even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”

If Abraham had been thinking like me, he could have said, “I’m really sure that God told me I’m going to have many descendants through Isaac, so I must be hearing Him wrong about this sacrificing Isaac.  How could that work?”

Hebrews 11 says that Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead.  Abraham had to give up his own plan about how it should happen.

As Pastor Ed emphasized today, my hope should be in God, not in my own plan.  Surely God can resurrect my marriage, but if so it will be through His power, not because of any plans of mine, or any stubborn holding onto my marriage even though my husband has left.

As for my job search, all the rest of the sermon related to that.  I did not get the Assistant Branch Manager position I had applied for at my last posting.  I now have four applications out there for four very different positions.  I don’t know what my chances are for any of those positions.

But as I think about the future, I will not be afraid.  My last three jobs have been complete gifts from God.  (No, pretty much every job I’ve ever had has been that.)  It’s not like God’s going to abandon me now.

I’m bolstered up by two Truths Pastor Ed pointed out from the Timothy passage.

Truth #1:  Our provision comes from God, and that’s where we should place our hope.

Truth #2:  God richly provides for our enjoyment.

Don’t get so caught up in my own plans that I forget to enjoy and thank Him for the many gifts He’s already given!

And that kind of attitude enables me to be generous with what God has provided.  God asks us to be generous, because that’s who we truly are, that’s how we will live “the life that is truly life.”

So, it was a beautifully encouraging morning.  Instead of seeing my probable job loss as a tough trial I’m going through, the sermon reminded me to see it as a wonderful opportunity to see how God is going to provide.

Journeying On

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

I had a lot of uncertainty at the end of 2009.  It started with headaches that lasted for weeks.  Then came news that I would probably lose my job.  My husband was to retire from the military soon, and I didn’t know what that would mean for him paying child support.  My Dad had a heart attack.

Well, life goes on.  And we get through!  And God is faithful.

First, my Dad is up and around and recovering.  I got to see him over Christmas, because he bought my son and me a plane ticket to California.  What a treat to see my family!

I had a neurology follow-up appointment on Friday and got to report that I haven’t had one headache to speak of in the month of January!  It’s amazing how much freedom from pain helps my outlook!  I went back on a preventative that I used for about a year three years ago — and it’s working beautifully.  I am so pleased.

As for my marriage, I was right.  My husband’s retirement does mean he’s planning to cut child support.  And it turns out I can’t get half the marital portion of his retirement unless there is a court order, which I can only get in a divorce.

So — I’ve decided to file for divorce.  It was a hard decision to come to, but I feel better and better about it, that the time is right.

Part of what made it difficult is that I truly believe that God has told me that my marriage with my husband will be restored some day.  That I am not supposed to look for a replacement man.  It’s a matter of obedience, for my specific situation, from the specific guidance God gave me.

However, I also believe that God has told me that I need to let my husband go.  That when he comes back to God it will be because of God’s work in his heart, and not anything I have done.

I also have to let go of my fantasy that he will come back because of his loving, forgiving wife who puts up with anything.  There are many laws protecting women in my situation — but only if I invoke them by filing for divorce.  If I just put up with getting along with what my husband sees fit to give me, it doesn’t increase his respect for me.  He concludes that he is right, that that is all I deserve.  It is time to respect myself enough to say that’s enough, that our 23 years of marriage deserve some respect.

Though I admit I wish it hadn’t come to this.

That leaves the job situation.  And this week, I applied for a promotion, for a Librarian III position.  I hadn’t thought I’d be eligible, since I am only a Librarian I, but my boss encouraged me to apply, and when I looked into it, sure enough, I do qualify.  And Librarian III’s are not going to be cut if the proposed budget cuts go through, so that would mean I’d keep my job, get to stay in the public library, and get a pay raise.

I brushed up my resume on Wednesday to get my application in before it closed on Friday.  In the process of doing that, I convinced myself I can do the job, which is the first step!  Although I only have two years experience as a full-fledged librarian, I maintain that my eight years at Sembach gave me a wonderful variety of experience that would apply.  And my ten years teaching math, while not exactly supervising, is still that same type of experience.  So we will see if I can convince them!

But either way, the experience interviewing will be a great thing.  It was also wonderfully therapeutic to focus on my good points and my abilities!  Gave me something to think about that was not the divorce!

It also reminded me how many times God has brought my way the perfect job at the perfect time.  I have been very blessed.  I do not need to be afraid of what the future will hold.

Christmas Letter

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Life is FULL of reasons for Joy!

That’s the motto I’ve adopted for my life as a single Mom and a career woman.  Indeed, 2009 was full of lots of joyful moments:

 ManassasWe moved last Spring!  (Be sure to note our new address.)  Our new place is a rental townhome, and it’s much cozier and more homelike than our old apartment, but much less expensive, so a winner all around.  I have a longer commute to work, but I’m discovering the joy of audiobooks, so I don’t mind.

 TimOnIceRiver

We’ve discovered Virginia is beautiful.  Tim and I had some good times hiking this year at places like Shenandoah National Park, Manassas Battlefield Park, the creek right by our home, and even on a frozen solid creek at the start of the year.

Shenandoah

I’m still thoroughly enjoying my job as Youth Services Manager at Herndon Fortnightly Library.  There’s lots of variety, and I particularly enjoy connecting kids with great books.  With budget cuts, I may be forced to look for a new job next year, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the time I’ve had at this job.

 Tim is a Sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, ranked the number one high school in the nation for the third year in a row by US News and World Report.  He’s not terribly talkative (He’s a teenager!), but I’m pretty sure he likes going there!  He admitted to particularly liking his Computer Science class last year, so this year he’s taking AP Computer Science.  We’ll see if that ends up being the area he specializes in.  (Seniors have to do a research project.)

 Josh is living at my parents’ house in Los Angeles, working for my brothers’ company, writing software that makes graphing calculators easier to use.  He’s proud of his work on Zoom Algebra 300 and Zoom Chemistry.  Now the calculators can do Algebra 2 problems, and show the steps, as well as balance chemical equations.  Check it out at www.zoommath.com.  On the side, he’s still writing screenplays.

 I’m still writing my website of book reviews, www.sonderbooks.com, and still enjoying blogging and connecting with old friends on Facebook.  This Fall, I had several book-related joyful moments: I got to meet my favorite author at the National Book Festival, got to attend a Kidlit Bloggers’ Conference, and got to take an online class on the Newbery Medal.

nbf1 

2010 has lots of uncertainty, but I am certain that God will still be looking after us and continuing to provide an abundance of joyful moments.

 Wishing you much Joy this Christmas,

 Sondy Eklund

Shining Like Stars

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

God did a beautiful thing for me today.

I was feeling down, shaken at the core of my being, who I am.  Let’s just say that some hurtful words in a letter, coming from someone I love, essentially accused me of being a bad mother and a bad person.  No matter how much my mind knows that’s not true, my heart was wounded, and I needed reassurance.  I was also tempted to answer the letter, but knew I probably shouldn’t.  Still, I asked God about it…

Anyway, Saturday night I was choosing clothes to wear to church.  I wanted to wear something pretty — I feel like God’s telling me He’s giving me beauty for ashes, and the truth is that He’s making me more beautiful during this trial, and I wanted to wear something to symbolize that.

My eye fell on a v-neck t-shirt with little stars embroidered across it, and I thought of the verse in Philippians 2, “… you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…”  I thought I’d wear that shirt as a symbol of shining like a star through God’s light.  To go with the symbolism, I chose underwear with stars all over them, too!  🙂

As I put the clothes aside, I thought how neat it would be if God had that verse come up in the sermon in the morning.  I prayed and asked for it.  I knew that would be symbol from God that He is indeed making me shine like a star in the universe, by His grace. 

I had trouble getting to sleep that night, so I thought about the phrase, “you shine like stars in the universe…”

Well, the verse did not come up in the sermon.  It was a good sermon, about living your Christianity in your job.  I got to thinking, well, it was a silly little whim.  God certainly didn’t have to do that.  What are the chances that that particular verse would come up anyway?

Then they did the closing song:

We are the peple of God
The sons and daughters of love
Forgiven, restored and redeemed
Living our lives to the praise of our King
We are the ones who will shine
His light in the darkness of night
The hopeless, the broken, the poor
They will be hopeless and broken no more

You are the light
The light of the world
And we shine You, Lord
You are the light
The light of the world
And we shine You, Lord

Okay, that specific verse wasn’t there.  But I was getting the idea…

Then came the third verse:

We shine like stars in the universe
Proclaiming the hope of our God
And to the sons and daughters in all the earth
We shine You, Lord

Now there was no doubt — “shine like stars in the universe” is exactly quoting the verse.  By this time, my eyes were streaming with tears!

By doing that little thing for me, I felt that God was telling me He loves me.  He cares about the little things of my life.  He cares about my emotional pain.  And He is indeed making me shine like a star.

Wow!

Then came the punchline.  When I got home, I looked up the verse.  I had forgotten how the sentence begins, in the previous verse, Philippians 2:14 —

Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life. . .

I had asked God if I should defend myself and answer the letter that hurt me?  Well, in His loving and wonderful way (with His sense of humor), He gently led me to the answer:  “Do everything without. . . arguing”!  And, in fact, my answer is my life, in which God is making me shine like a star.

Praise Him.

Here’s a link to a site that plays the song:  http://www.imeem.com/mattxiong/music/FB9viSRq/steve-fee-you-are-the-light/

Moving

Monday, April 27th, 2009

I haven’t written on this blog for awhile.  I needed to find a cheaper place to live.  I did find one, and I think it’s much nicer than the old place — a townhome instead of an apartment in a big complex, for starters.

But all the busywork of moving has gotten me behind with my blogs.  I hope to get going again soon.

In so many ways, this move feels symbolic.

I moved into the old apartment as a temporary place to lick my wounds after my husband abandoned me.  I was pretty demoralized when I moved in, and much of my furniture was even broken by the movers.  I had the accumulated stuff of a five-bedroom house to try to pare down to fit into a three-bedroom apartment.

But now I am choosing northern Virginia as my home.  My son goes to the best high school in the nation.  (Even US News and World Report says it’s the best!)  I have a fantastic and fulfilling dream job.  Some lifetime friends live nearby, and the people of Gateway Community Church are now like family to me.

Northern Virginia is beautiful, and I now live close to several beautiful parks.  This townhome is not too big and not too little for the two of us.

I still believe that God has told me that He is going to do a transforming work in my husband’s life.  But one thing is certain:  Any work God does in my husband is going to have nothing whatsoever to do with me!  For now, and for the forseeable future, God is working in our lives separately.

So this place represents my new life as a Mom, a librarian, a writer, and a reviewer.  Someone with hobbies of reading, blogging, knitting, singing, hiking, and photography.

I’m excited, and am going to try to fill it with reminders of my new motto:  Life is FULL of reasons for Joy!