This week I was blessed to share life over coffee with two amazing women.
Brenda Shumaker, my writing mentor, has taught me to see my current circumstance an opportunity to share God’s glory through my difficulty. Although I no longer possess the strength to hold a violin, Carolyn Peterson, my violin instructor, has taught me how to “praise Him with the strings ” (Psalm 150:4) and in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
These women have continually poured into my life. I cherish their friendship and wisdom in marriage, parenting, and listening for the voice of God. These women have each been married longer than I’ve been alive. Their testimonies of God’s amazing grace is a delectable blend of sweet memories, rich laughter and salty tears.
I am thankful to be surrounded by many other seasoned saints and old souls. In our age of social media, I’m afraid my generation and the generation after me is losing the art of face-to-face communication. There is special bond welded when two people share in each other’s burdens.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, HCSB)
This is the first of many short and sweet “Free Friday” posts. I encourage you to download the free encouraging graphic made just for you.
Bloom where you are planted.
(1 Corinthians 7:17, my version)
The air was thick with threat of rain. The sky was overcast. The dreary weather mimicked my own mood. It was Monday, and I was dreading going into work. As I backed out of the garage something caught my eye. I peered across the yard, and saw a single defiant daffodil. The sunny color was the antidote for my sullen mood.
-William Arthur Ward
I have planted daffodils, over the years, but they never flower. The stems will emerge above ground, but the plants never produce the distinctive yellow cup. Today however, I finally witnessed a daffodil in bloom. The cheerful yellow color of the trumpet flower stood in stark contrast to our dormant yard.
God used this single defiant daffodil to speak to my heart. In my spirit, I sensed God whisper, “April, be a defiant daffodil today.” While driving to a thankless job, God encouraged me to lift my chin up towards the Son, smile bright, and be a defiant daffodil. In a world filled with hate and gloom, cheerful defiance is required to live counter-culturally for the Lord. God used this single flower to remind me to lift my head up to my Creator and to bask in His glory.
After researching daffodils, I learned these flowers are known in England and European countries as “Lenten Lilly.” The daffodil is symbolic of spring and rebirth and is connected to Easter. Just as this single solitary daffodil brightened my day, God showed me that, we too can be little spots of cheerful yellow happiness in a dormant world.
And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else.
Where you are right now is God’s place for you.
(1 Corinthians 7:17, MSG)
|Andrew gave all that he had.
The Wade Family Christmas is a large affair, with a gathering of over one hundred, our clan mostly dressed in Wranglers and boots, gather at a local reception hall. Each year, our extended family chooses a family in need. Often we donate food and firewood, and money. This year my parents, and the kids and I packed up our firewood to give to a family member going through a difficult time. After dinner, the monarch of the family announced another collection would be used to purchase new dentures recently lost at the nursing home.
A few days later, I discover money and a note on the kitchen counter. I counted the money and read the note from Andrew: “New teeth.” I called Andrew into the kitchen to explain. He said, “Well, it’s not a lot, but it’s all the money I have, except for Wal-Mart gift cards. You can’t buy new teeth with a Wal-Mart gift card can you? We know two people who need new teeth and I want them to have my money. I have teeth. Everyone needs teeth, mom.” I cried. I lifted my head to the heavens and thanked the Good Lord above for this boy!
We spent Christmas Eve with my parents, my sister and her children. After the presents were opened, my mom announced she had one more gift to give. She handed Andrew a crisp twenty-dollar bill and said, “Andrew, I heard about you giving all your money away to help buy new teeth for Wilton. This is for you!” Andrew’s eyes lit up with excitement, and then he spoke, “But Grandma, this is too much. I only gave away $18 not $20.” She smiled at her only grandson and said, “No, you keep it!” From across the living room cluttered with wrapping paper, I asked “Andrew, what is it I always say about giving?” With a huge grin, he erupted, “YOU CAN’T OUT GIVE GOD!” It’s true; we can never out give God! In fact, the Bible says to test God on this subject.
“Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
I received many treasured gifts this Christmas. However, the most treasured gift was watching Andrew walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s nudge to give; then watching his face light up when he received back more than he gave. That’s how God works. You can’t out give God!
“Hey sister loved by God, I KNOW that He has chosen you!”
1 Thessalonians 1:4 (paraphrased with attitude)
I am participating in a Thessalonians bible study titled Children of The Day by Beth Moore. Each time we meet we are to greet one another by saying, “Hey sister loved by God, I KNOW that He has chosen you!” With warm mugs of coffee we say that to each other and laugh.
This week I have been really meditating on that verse and that truth. First of all we are loved by God, and secondly, He has chosen us. I mean chosen us! I can remember years and years ago attending a women’s retreat, in fact it was the first women’s retreat that I had ever attended. It was an in house retreat where we watched the video series Anointed, Transformed, and Redeemed by Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, and Kay Arthur. I remember sitting in a small group struggling with feelings of being a failure as a parent. (Do you see an underlying theme here, going on in my life?) Andrew and Rachel were little, both preschoolers, and just at that season of our life. I will never forget opening up to my small group and sharing my feelings. I was feeling like God gave these children to the wrong mom. I remember thinking “I can’t do this.” I felt like I wasn’t the right mother for these children. The small group leader Holly, looked at me and said “April, you have been chosen.” She reminded me then, as I was reminded this week in scripture that I have been hand picked by God for what He has me doing, right now. As I reflected on the words “Hey sister loved by God, He has chosen you!” I thought about how God used my friend Holly back then. I still have those words, faded now, written on an index card on the front of my refrigerator.
My friend Holly moved away around 5 years ago . I decided to send her this text: “Hey sister loved by God, I know that He has chosen you! I am studying 1&2 Thessalonians and I am praising God for you! I am thanking God for the day you revealed this truth to me many years ago at the women’s retreat.” Almost immediately, I got a message back from her telling me she was in tears. She had been up all night, wrestling it out with God, over an email she had received. She had been up all night praying and wondering if she had done or said something wrong to upset a friend. She said my message to her that morning was divinely appointed.
I love that! I love the way God uses scriptures and others to be boomerang effect. She encouraged me many years ago, in the Spring of 2008 (from the best of our memory) and now I was able to encourage her! In fact I asked her permission to tell this story, because I was sitting in my red chair while texting her, so it qualified as a Red Chair Moment.
Life is hard. But know this: You are loved by God and He has chosen you!
“Hey sister loved by God, I KNOW that He has chosen you!”
“May you and I be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” Romans 1:12