Blessed

Sometimes I wish that there was another word to use to describe how I feel rather than always falling back on the word blessed. Now don’t get me wrong, I am indeed blessed because I am God’s child and He loves me.  I like the way Ogilvie puts it, “To be a blessed person is to know, feel, and relish God’s affirmation and assurance, acceptance and approval.  It is the experience of being chosen and cherished, valued and enjoyed.” Yes, I am a blessed person and I delight in that fact.  And thus my dilemma. You see there are times that I take in my surroundings, my home and neighborhood, and all I can think to say is how blessed am I.  But what troubles me is that by saying that or even feeling that, I become guilty of mixing up my generous retirement package from the Army with what it truly means to be blessed.  I don’t need to tell you that being blessed has nothing to do with goods or money, yet how deprived and unblessed we feel when we don’t have them.

You see, I worked for the Army for over forty years so I feel that I have earned my pension and thus am grateful to own a beautiful home in a lovely neighborhood;  but I have done nothing to earn God’s blessing. So as I enjoy my home I need to remind myself that the rewards of one’s labor can give you a pleasing sense of pride and accomplishment but one should not mistake it for God’s blessing.

I love God’s gentle corrections and the ways in which He guides my thinking.  I had been pondering these thoughts about being blessed when I began reading Lloyd John Ogilvie’s book, When You Need a Miracle. In the second chapter I began reading about Jacob and the whole idea of blessing (I just love when God does this kind of thing…not only answers my questions but enlarges my thinking and knowledge on the subject.).  Ogilvie is explaining the need that we all have for love and affirmation and notes that if this has been withheld it becomes difficult for the individual to even receive God’s blessing. He writes: “My thesis is this:  People who feel unblessed become strong-willed.  The more unblessed a person feels, the more he or she inadvertently develops a willfulness to maintain control and keep from being hurt.  The blessed are just the opposite.  People who feel affirmed and loved are flexible, receptive, willing.  But the unblessed become willful wrestlers.  They strive for the blessing from others, expressed in approval and esteem; but they often resist, and usually question, overtures of blessing from people and most of all from God.  Striving and resisting become a survival tactic.”

When I read this I could immediately think of some personal circumstances where I could see this kind of behavior playing itself out. My heart aches for those who find themselves in such a state. I pray God that, like Jacob, they wrestle with God for His blessing. When they do, they discover that it is not God who is keeping them from receiving blessing, but in the wrestling they discover the depth of God’s love for them.

Thank You, Lord that now when I say that I feel blessed I know exactly what I mean!

 

 

 

Frustration, Frustration, Frustration

Okay, okay.  Uncle, uncle. I admit it.  It is extremely tough to teach an old dog (me) new tricks (this blog)!!!

I begin this post with a song for me by one of my favorite pianist, Anthony Burger, to give me the encouragement to continue on with this new thing I am doing–well at least trying to do.  I’m hoping that you will be able to hear it….we’ll see.

I have literally, and I do mean literally, spent hours trying to figure out how to configure this blog. I am making progress but I confess that I did not think it would be so difficult. How hard the mighty have fallen! Or is it pride goeth before a fall?

My biggest problem in trying to configure the blog has been the language. Go figure! Unfortunately, Don cannot help me with this one.  Even he doesn’t speak computerese. In setting up this blog  the help site touts zero to hero in minutes, yeah, right; only if you were born sometime after 2000 and understand the language.  For example do you know what CSS means? (For those of my generation: CSS is a stylesheet language that describes the presentation of an HTML (or XML) document. It describes how elements must be rendered on screen, on paper, or in other media. Yeah, simple, right?)

I also thought I knew what a widget is and I does but how to program one?  I press and save all that it seems that you are to press and save but does the blog come out as I anticipate?  Nooo. Boo, Hiss!!

Okay, enough venting!  (thanks for listening–reading–if you still are)

You know what?  With all this frustration it has still been an adventure. I’ve always loved to learn something new and what an adventure it has been albeit frustrating though it may be. I have gained a real appreciation as I continue to delve a little deeper into something that I have observed but realize that I have never fully understood.

There is something comforting about the familiar and something equally unsettling about the unfamiliar.  What a shame it would be if we just remained in our cocoon of familiarity and miss out on an exciting and new adventure simply because we did not fully understand it. I believe that God loves to guide us through the unfamiliar because it is there that we become closest to Him. It is there that we discover just how much we need Him. And while it may not be a comfortable place to be at times, it is certainly a blessed place to be if we walk with God through it.

One thing I have especially discovered this week is that through all my frustrations God has been ministering to me.  Just when I would want to pick up my computer and toss it across the room, His gentle voice begins a song in my heart like, “Peace perfect peace far beyond all understanding” and my soul  communes with the Lord–and my computer is safe. Or someone gives me a word of encouragement just about the time I’m thinking, “what’s the use, I’m too old for this.”

The words to the song above is by Bill Gaither and I sing them with all my heart resonating with the truth that they proclaim.

The longer I serve Him
The sweeter He grows
The more that I love Him
More love He bestows
Each day is like heaven
My heart overflows
The longer I serve Him
The sweeter He grows

 

Retired

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Retired.  Am I really old enough to be retired? Already? After almost a year I still find it difficult to believe that I am retired! We won’t even mention the fact that I must be at least 65….

It has been an interesting year. A year of changes, adjustments, and a year of reminding myself that surely I must still have some kind of purpose. For forty-three years my purpose was defined by my calling served out in The Salvation Army but now that ‘purpose’ has been completed. So now what? Has the Lord put me out to pasture? You know, like the ones mentioned in the 23rd Psalm. Perhaps. I certainly live in a beautiful and peaceful setting. No, the reality is that there is no retirement from God’s calling or service.  It is just more of a challenge these days.  I find that my personal wants and desires tend to get in the way more.

For a few weeks now I have been thinking about writing a blog; being a part of a family of successful and professional writers, this is a scary thing for me to undertake.  But undertake it I will do since I feel that the Lord is leading me in this direction.

Now I am wrestling with the Lord as to content.  I was reminded by my Corps Officer, Major Angela Repass, that I may have some experience and skills that are still useful. The trick is to find a way to share that experience and skills through this blog in a meaningful and helpful way.

A number of years ago I read Joyce Landorf’s book, Balcony People.  It is a book about the people in our lives who are our affirmers, those who cheer us on and encourage us. Landorf calls them ‘balcony people.’  She writes: “Let me ask you. Who is the affirmer in your life, who by one small sentence or more, has changed and lifted your opinion of yourself? Who was the person early in your life who recognized the first sparks of originality in the labyrinths of your mind and soul, and saw what no one else saw? And who is the special affirmer who catches quick glimpses of the flames from the fires of your potential and tells you so? Who, by his or her words, helps you to respect and believe in your own value as a person? And who is the affirmer who encourages you to stretch and dream beyond your self-imposed limits and capabilities?”

This is what I want to become, a balcony person.  I want to be an encourager and an affirmer. I also want to challenge my readers to find new and creative ways in which to build the Kingdom.

As I look at my world from my retirement balcony I will try to listen intently to the Lord’s leading on what topics to write about and share.

At this point  I do not know how often I will blog, I think weekly. Your suggestions are welcome.

So I begin with a quote from A.W. Tozer: “We can be in our day what the heroes of faith were in their day – but remember at the time they didn’t know they were heroes.” I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  (Ephesians 1:18-19)