Mending

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A few days after my surgery at Tampa General Hospital. Trying to keep a smile on my face through it all. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:9

Mending. One little word with so much meaning. Often in life we need mending—mending from a broken heart, mending from a physical injury, or mending from hurt feelings. When I looked up the meaning of the word “mending,” much of what came up referenced repairing clothing or garments. However, I did find a definition that fit: mending – the act of putting something in working order again. Several synonyms for the word are: refreshing, renewing, remodeling, restoring, rebuilding, and helping.

Last week I had my eleventh surgery since my near fatal motor vehicle accident in 2009. It was a total ankle fusion—the seventh surgery on my ankle, and the final attempt at salvaging my ankle before amputating. They also re-fused my subtalar joint which has been a nonunion since June of 2013 when the VA attempted to fuse it, but it failed to take. This has been the most difficult of the surgeries since my initial accident. My pain tolerance is pretty high for the most part, but it is by God’s strength alone that I have been able to get through this. Once again He is teaching me to be still and know that He is God. To TRUST in Him and lean not on my own understanding (because my own understanding doesn’t understand)!

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Holding flowers from my wonderfully hubby while I was in the hospital.

I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but I am sure of who holds my future. He is the Master Mender. He takes us from the inside out and restores, refreshes, renews, rebuilds, and mends us. He loves to take that which is broken and mend it together into something strong and durable. The best part is that He uses His love as the thread. 🙂

What needs mending in your life? I encourage you to let the Master Mender minister to your spirit and begin a restoration in your heart.

Prayer starter: Lord, speak to me revealing areas in which I need mending. Help me to surrender those areas to you, allowing you to   do a complete restoration in me. Only you know what I need.

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The Past is in the Past

A farmer ploughing a field and looking back. Photo courtesy of flicker via creativecommons.org.

A farmer ploughing a field and looking back. Photo courtesy of flicker via creativecommons.org.

Looking back. We all do it from time to time. Sometimes we look back on fond memories, and sometimes memories that aren’t so fond. Many times we get so focused on the past—past hang ups, mistakes, relationships—that we are held prisoner to it, unable to plow ahead into the fertile ground of our future. A very wise Teacher once said:

“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” -Luke 9:62 NIV

Now, the plow’s back in Jesus’ day were steered by hand while oxen, horses, or mules pulled them. Dictionary.com defines a plow as “an agricultural implement used for cutting, lifting, turning over, and partly pulverizing soil.” The purpose of plowing is to turn over the soil so that fresh nutrients are brought to the surface, and the soil is fresh and fertile for the planting of seeds.

Plowing also buries weeds, weed and crop seeds, along with any remains from previous crops literally burying the old and “raising” the new. What a wonderful concept! Okay, you may be asking, “But what does this have to do with serving God?” Well my friend, I am glad you asked! 😉

When we accept Christ into our hearts as our Lord and Savior we become born again, receiving the Holy Spirit. We then get baptized, making an outward expression of an inward change, being raised out of the water as Christ was raised from the grave. Our sins are forgiven, and we are made new. But then there is that plow . . .

We put our hand to the plow, pushing forward, serving God and others, and growing in faith, but then we turn around to look back at the past. Let me clarify. Looking back is okay if you are doing so in a way that says, “Thank God I am not where I used to be.” I look back on my past a lot using what I have been through as my testimony and that’s okay. It’s when we start wishing we were back in that place rather than where we currently are that poses a problem. Look at Lot’s wife in Genesis 19:26. God said not to look back on Sodom and Gomorrah, but as she and her family were running away, she looked back and became a pillar of salt.

In the verses proceeding Luke 9:62, Jesus asked a man to follow him, and the man said that he wanted to bury his father first. He didn’t want to move forward with Jesus because he couldn’t let go of his past. We don’t know whether the man’s father was actually dead or not. Maybe he was, or maybe it was an excuse. What we do know is that Jesus didn’t live much longer after that, and the man missed his opportunity to follow him.

“We would rather have familiarity than the uncomfortableness of change.”

Ploughing Match by Bob Turner, courtesy of flicker via creativecommons.org

Ploughing Match by Bob Turner, courtesy of flicker via creativecommons.org

Another man said that he would follow Jesus but wanted to go back to his family first to tell them goodbye. That is when Jesus made reference to the plow. Jesus wants complete dedication, not heartfelt commitment. We are called to take up his cross, abandoning anything that may distract us from following him. This means we can’t selectively follow him by choosing which of his ideas we want to follow. We must put our hands to the plow and press on full force, no matter how difficult the journey.

I have a habit of laying things down at the cross and then picking them right back up. We get “comfortable” with our problems. They are familiar to us, and although often painful, we clutch them tightly because we would rather have familiarity than the uncomfortableness of change. But look at the butterfly! It goes through a process of change that I imagine can’t be too comfortable, yet in the end it comes out a beautiful creation completely transformed. We have to get sick enough of where we are and habits we have formed to take the plunge into greater depths. We don’t have to remain in bondage to fear, anxiety, depression, rejection, etc., we just have to put our hand to that plow, turn over the old soil, and keep on moving. When we do, we will reap a harvest like no other! 😀

Have you had trouble “plowing ahead?” I’d love to hear from you!

Letting Go

Our tree that keeps us from needing to purchase furniture for that side of the living room (another reason I don't want to take it down!) :-)

Our tree that keeps us from needing to purchase furniture for that side of the living room (another reason I don’t want to take it down). 🙂

I stare at the Christmas tree in the living room of our new home and am hesitant to take it down, just as I was hesitant to pull out of the driveway of mom’s old home yesterday after gathering the last of my belongings. I sat there gripping the steering wheel as the rain crept down my windshield, wondering why it was so difficult for me to take my foot off of the brake and press onto the gas.

I had taken mental snapshots of the hallway, the bathroom, the bedrooms, the kitchen, the living room—the spaces I occupied for so many years. The spaces Dad had occupied. They are no more. He is no more. He passed away four days ago while I was on vacation in Wisconsin. I never dreamed that I would be starting 2015 without my daddy.

I took an actual snapshot of the house with my phone before driving away, as if the picture could capture the years of life inside of that house. It’s the letting go that I find most difficult—the letting go of moments, of memories. Yet somehow, I know they are safe deep in the caverns of my heart.

Today marks the beginning of a new year—the first without my father, but a new one nonetheless. It’s going to be a journey, but thankfully not one that I have to walk alone. For me, this will be a year of letting go of things that need to be released: guilt, clutter, bitterness, unforgiveness, stress, etc. Most importantly, I will let go of the need to beat myself up when I end up grasping onto something for too long before letting it go, like this Christmas tree . . . Now that I have finally started this blog I better put it away already. Slowly but surely, one ornament at a time, it will get done. I won’t be emailing my dad to ask him to proofread my post this time (he always loved reading my blog posts). But hey, with a degree in writing and a minor in professional & technical writing, I shouldn’t need him to, right? (Yeah right!) 😉

What have you resolved to do in 2015?

See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
~Isaiah 43:19

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The picture I snapped before driving away. Yes, there was a vacuum out on the curb. 🙂

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