A New Leaf

Ponderings in Changing Seasons


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come as you are

An Invitation:  to a Celebration!

A Come As You Are Party

No need to purchase an outfit:  what you have on right now will do just fine.

No need to check your calendar for conflicts: come right now.

No need to find out who else is invited:  YOU ARE and that is all that matters.

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A week ago Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten Season for 2016.  It will go on for 40 days.  Many who believe Jesus was and is the Son of God will spend this time in humble gratitude for what Jesus did for them.  They will fast some food or some activity that is significant to them.  Or, they will, as in my case, decide to stop a bad habit and acquire a better habit in its place.  They will allow this “Season” to be one of transformation.  Just as the humble caterpillar enters its cocoon and emerges a graceful butterfly, those honoring this Season hope to emerge a better, more grace-filled version of themselves.

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In many of my former years, I have elected to fast sugar .. or coffee .. or, not just sugar, but  sweet pastries .. or some other exercise in self-denial.  I emerged grateful for the aforementioned, embracing the delectable tastes once more. But, if I am honest, I cannot say I was changed, let alone transformed by the exercise in any discernible way.  Over the years, though, I have to believe that there has been a gradual transformation.  I now am fascinated by the WORD  and the Words of God!  I carry HOPE eternal in my heart that this world of woe belies.  I believe in the Power of Prayer to effect change.  ALL these things ~ and MORE ~ are due in part to my commitment to honor this Lenten Season which leads to the Via Delorosa which leads to Calvary which leads to the Tomb which leads to RESURRECTION MORNING!!!

What Lent requires of us is to Stand before Jesus, then to bow low.  I don’t easily bow low; my natural self prefers to STAND TALL!  But it is only in the laying low of self that the Journey to Truth occurs.  Only the Journey to Truth leads to Redemption.  And who doesn’t want Redemption?

“Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”*

There’s a Party goin’ on .. non-stop!  And YOU – Me – We ALL are invited, “just as we are”!  We don’t have to get cleaned up or prepped in any way.  All that we need do is say, “YES!”  The saying is true that the ground is level at the foot of the Cross.

That means ALL are welcome.

Why not enter into Lent this year, if this is not your pattern?  Even though we are just a bit more than a week into Lent, if you commit the remaining time to draw apart from the usual, to draw in to taste His Living Water,** you will never thirst again!  You will find strength and peace for the day.  Not a placid, no troubles place is this peace.  Rather, it is a peace that looks beyond what sight sees and trusts that there is far more in the Invisible than all that is in the visible.*** It is a peace that endures EVEN in the tumult!

Jesus is the one who invites and His Holy Spirit says, “Come!  See!  Receive!” He was the First to show us LIFE Everlasting.  We, too, can have not only Strength for the day, but LIFE abundant and Life Everlasting.

Jesus says simply, “Just come!”

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*Psalm 34:8     **John 4:13-15; 7:38     ***Colossians 1:15-20


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(in)REAL LIFE Story

Listening in my heart hasn’t always been easy.  I have wanted to hear God from way Little.  But, you see, I have this impediment in my heart.  It blocks out at times the sounds even of Love.  It holds me captive to myself:   my agenda, my image.

But, on Saturday, there was this shifting of Seasons in my life!  I experienced it first-hand ~ saw and heard how it doesn’t matter the outer “Dressing” of our lives ~ our homes, our skills, our “perfected” decor, our clothes (of course).  Rather, it IS truly ALL ABOUT THE HEART ~ all about JESUS’ HEART actually ~ what’s on the inside.  What’s on the INSIDE?

I had heard the message many times over.  Taught it even ~ many times over.  But Saturday was different.  Saturday I truly believe the message finally was steeped into my heart of hearts,

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Late last year, two words dropped into my mind.  I listened with my heart.  And I heard IMMANUEL ~~ and ~ STORY.  Since it was nearing the Christmas Season, IMMANUEL made sense.  It fit the Song of the Season.  And to carry the sense of HIs Abiding ~ His ALWAYS WITH me ~ Presence for a whole year, that too made sense.  But the other word ~ STORY ~ the two just somehow didn’t seem to fit together.  In fact, I found the two words side by side almost jarring, startling.  Was I hearing from God, or was this just me?

As I shopped around, seeking how I might display these two words in our home, they remained surprisingly elusive.  The year before the words were HOPE ~ STILL.  There were many things readily available to choose to keep those words before my eyes and heart all year.  But not this time.  Even in the post-Christmas sell offs, I could not find IMMANUEL!   He had gone missing, this One Who promises to ALWAYS ABIDE NEAR.

And STORY .. what is my story?  Can I tell my story?  Can I tell it well?  My story, you see, has been a long time in the forming. It has many twists and turns with some very dark nooks and crannies. It has taken years to pull out by the roots the UGLY that existed in my soul.

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In my family of origin I had the auspicious nickname of  “Sharp Elbows”.  Does that tell you anything?  Do you think I might of been a wee bit pushy?  Overbearing?  Full of myself?  Controlling? You betcha ~ and not just a wee bit either.  I was the eldest; I was the first born; I had it all together.  If you could be just like me, you would be fine, fine, super fine!  And if you would do it my way, then we’d both be fine, fine, superfine!  And if not, well ….  You get the drift!  I was a Performer.  It fit the role I had in my family:  the role of Hero Child.  I performed well.

Then along came Jesus .. and He turned this self-centered world of mine upside down.  He said, “Come!  Receive My Love.  Receive Me.  Let Me live in and through you.  Then you will be empowered by my Holy Spirit to be like Me!”  I did and He has.  But, let me repeat, it has taken a long lifetime of stumbling and getting back up to find that perfect is not what He wants.  Obedience is how He knows I love Him back (I John 2:5; I John 4:19).  Obedience and obedience only.  He’s done all the work.  I need only Trust and Obey!

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So, we, a small group of women seeking to follow Jesus more fully, met together in front of the TV screen on Saturday to watch pre-recorded videos on (in)RL, this World-Wide Conference of Women using virtual space to tell their many stories.  This (in)REAL LIFE brought together the broken and the healing through God’s Redemptive work in lives trusting and obeying Jesus.  As we heard story after story after story of rejection and fear and loss and sadness and abandonment but in each hearing the OVERCOME, the words IMMANUEL and STORY finally meshed.  They overcame by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. (Revelation 12:11)

I see more clearly now.  I hear more dynamically now.  It is not by my effort.  It is not in the doing.  I can tell others this Truth.  But the hard part has been believing it in my own relationships, in the living it out in my own life.  I have fallen, slipped back into unrealistic expectations, into perfectionistic thinking and valuing.  And He who is Faithful, He who is WITH me always, picks me up.  He asks me to face Him.  To turn away from the Old Me and embrace the New Me in Him.  I am made NEW! (II Corinthians 5:17) This is a NEW SEASON in my life.  I see clearly now:  the OLD has passed; it is gone.  I am turned!  I am gazing fully toward my Saviour!

I see transformation ~ how it looks ~ in this Glorious Shifting of Seasons .. this Re-Birthing of flowers and trees and flying bees and creepy, crawly bugs.  It’s there in the song and the dance of the birds on the wing.  A.L.L. happens W.I.T.H.O.U.T. our effort.  It’s. not. in. our. doing!  We ~ the created ones ~ cannot create anything so beautiful, so perfected as Nature in the Spring.

My heart, it is turned.  I am facing away from my ugly, my self-center.  I am turned toward Jesus for He tells my heart who He is and who He created me to be.  He tells my heart that my story is unique and it is needed.  He is IMMANUEL:  His is My Story, Our Story.

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Because the virtual setting for this virtual (in)REAL LIFE Conference is a Beach House, we enjoyed a beach-y decor.  And we each created a Shell Story as a way to tangibly hold onto this Day of Stories we shared.  We picked a shell that became the feature, a shell that looked in some way like each of us felt as we considered our own story.  After placing it in a small planter filled with sand, along with a candle to illuminate IMMANUEL, we added a few more shells to embellish our story.  Then we took pictures to hold onto each other, to remind us that we need each other in community.  Our Jesus Sisters are such a needed part of our STORY.  Jesus knows!  And He is right here in our midst!

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Dangling Threads and Knotty Spots

We had been there for awhile.  I hadn’t noticed it at first.  The room was cluttered with all manner of things: books, music, a piano, of course, papers ~ oh, all those papers ~ and dust.  A lifetime of memories were there.  The picture of her husband as a young soldier in World War II hung over the piano she so loved.  She told me how he’d been stationed in Paris, how he’d been gone three whole years ~ and they just married one year before he left.  She talked about the plants scattered on the various surfaces along with everything else, how she loved them, though they’d grown long and gangly and they, too, were covered with dust.

She excused herself a moment as she walked to the back of her tiny dwelling.

It was then that I spied the piece of needlepoint, a tapestry of sorts, dropped casually on the arm of the chair in the corner.  I couldn’t resist.  I went over for a closer look.  It was a mishmash of colors and strings both long and short; knots were scattered here and there among the threads.  It wasn’t finished, I could see, as there were still a full five inches of the bare mesh exposed.  What was also showing captivated me:  it was the part that was the actual scene, the actual picture she was creating.  The hues and shadings were entrancing.  I couldn’t refrain.  I picked it up, needle still woven where she had stopped.

As she re-entered the room, she stopped mid-sentence.  “I .. I hold onto that because it was my creation at the time my dear husband died.  I could never pick it up again.  It’s just too hard,” she sighed.

“What will the picture be?” I asked.   Awkwardly, I twisted the words, “I mean, what was it to have been?”

Without a pause in her step she turned and walked out of the room again.  I knew I had offended her; maybe even wounded her.  “Why don’t I just let things be,” I chastised myself.

When she returned this time, she was carrying a slip of paper; on it were penned words in handwriting that looked to have been scratched upon the paper long time ago.

“Here,” she spoke softly.  “This is for you.  And with it will come a story for you to carry forward.”

I looked at the handwriting; I looked at the title:  The Weaver, it said.

“So tell me this story.”  I looked at her gently, not knowing what she would tell me of such import that I would carry it forward.  She looked toward the page in my hand and suggested that I read it aloud.


My life is but a weaving
Between my LORD and me.                                                    
I cannot choose the colors;
He weaveth steadily.                                                  
Oft’times He weaveth sorrow; 
And I in foolish pride                                              
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.


Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly                                            
Will God unroll the canvas 
And reveal the reason why.                                              
The dark threads are as needful 
In the weaver’s skillful hand                                        
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.
                                               
(Author Unknown)

Expectant, I sat down as she began to speak once more.

“You see,” she said intently, “there is design and definition in creation.  It doesn’t matter whether you are creating an artistic piece or a child.  You may be taking pen to paper, or fingers on a keyboard.  You might be growing flowers to arrange in a vase or preparing a flavorful, colorful meal. You may be folding laundry and creating order and function.  We are all weavers of a sort.  We are made in God’s image, so we are all endowed with the capacity to create.

This needlepoint reminds me each time my eye falls upon it and my heart aches with longing that God is not finished with me.  It reminds me that I am delayed in seeing the full picture, the design completed, the purpose defined from my underside perspective.  And it reminds me that though I am limited in my vision, HE is NOT!  He knows the reason why.  He knows each and every dangling thread and knotty spot in my life’s design.  And, my sweet friend, He knows the beautiful tapestry that He alone is weaving of your life intertwined with all the others with whom you have intercourse.  God sees and He knows and He cares when we cry for want, when we’re discontented and when we are fully satisfied.”

We sat together long in silence as I reflected on her careful words.  Then as I made movement to finish our visit, I thanked her.  I thanked her for teaching me a life lesson that, yes, I would carry forward ~ outward and upward ~ as I continued on my life’s journey.  “My life is but a weaving between my LORD and me ….”