Monday, March 21, 2016

Mantel, Mantle...morning reflections

As is my usual habit, I was sitting with the Lord this morning. The house...deathly quiet. Only a few almost silent sounds I heard; the ticking of a clock, the hum of a faithful twenty year refrigerator, the deep breaths of two dreaming pups curled up close, and the occasional tweets of the birds outside calling forth the dawn.

I sit, stilling my thoughts.  I've been looking at the mantel in the room for awhile when I hear the Lord say, "Look at the mantel."  I chuckle inwardly, knowing exactly what He means.  How many of us look, but not see....or see, but not look?  "Yes, Lord. Okay, I am looking at the mantel."

This mantel of mine tells a story. It's but one look into my soul, but a look nonetheless.

The picture hanging above the mantel was the very first picture Brian and I bought, twenty three long years ago. Lord, the deliberation put into buying it. Such peace it brought to me then as it does now; a picture of a simpler, yet I know not easier, time period in history. Just look at that fluffy field and simple home.... and then there are the know me and trees....they'll always speak their lessons to me. I am thankful the deliberation  ended as it did.

And then there are these. The pictures speak for themselves, yet the reflection of them brings tears, even as my heart fights to smile. Lord, how that persevering heart has fought battle after battle through the years.

Do you see the smaller objects?

To the far right, there sits the gas fireplace remote. Fire; now there is something to ponder indeed. This morning, I ponder it in the reflection of Him who is within me; my sustaining Fire, absolutely essential to life itself. The two objects in the center were given to me by my children.  Amber made the turtle years ago.  I kept it because it reminds me of two prophetic words given to me long ago. One was given to me in the form of an email I kept, dated 12/28/2003. Curious; it seems far longer ago than thirteen years; much life has been lived in those thirteen years. The two prophetic words came on the heels of one another, and they both spoke to my endurance and my perseverance. The pine cone, when handed to me by tiny hands then, spoke to me concerning life's abundant potential. I ponder, every time my eyes catch sight of that pine cone on the mantel, all the seeds God generously grants to us, just as I also ponder the squandering of those seeds. And then there is the rose. Oh, the rose. That rose is profoundly symbolic to me, and those who read my article, "The Dying Roses" (scroll over to follow the link, if desired), will understand why. 

And then, there are these.  If you have been to my home, you know there are stacks of books in just about every nook of the house.  I love books.  My mother and father taught me the joy of books from an early age. Weekly my mother would take my brother and me to the library.  Lord, we would check out so many books with every trip! Those memories are sweet indeed! I faithfully passed that habit on to my children.  Even my eldest who bucked those trips in his youth now sees the wisdom in reading.... and the joy! And lastly, but with significance, do you see Dory atop the stack?  Dory, given to me by my youngest in 2008, has been my mascot ever since.....  "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...."  (scroll over to follow the link, if desired)

After my reflections concerning my mantel, the Lord shifted my gears, "Now, what about your mantle?"

Curious how the reversal of two little letters can turn one's thoughts so quickly.

He began the conversation with the question, and He ended it with a "to be continued..."

I know this will be His focus with me this week.

This has been a circumstantially difficult year, but for those who have read my book, you know it is both my experience and my testimony that to grow in God demands both an understanding and a personal discipline where by life's circumstances do NOT shape us.  No, those committed to growth understand it is the ever increasing ability to navigate life's circumstances that shape us.

Circumstances are a given in this life, and though they are ever changing, God is not. Those who are in Him, focus on Him....not the ever changing circumstances of life.

I do not control the things in this world.  I do not control anyone or anyone's choices, but I do control how I choose to navigate through, over, and around all that comes at me as I traverse this land not my home. I am eternal in Christ, but while on this earth and with God as my witness, I will steward my time here well....from the smallest details onward.

So, yes, Lord, what about that mantle?
Your daughter listens.....

Saturday, March 5, 2016


It's quiet, and before I turn in this evening, I take a moment to collect some thoughts I have had today regarding Leah, Jacob's first wife.

Ladies, think for a moment; dare to put yourself in her shoes.

Perhaps you have been there or are currently  in her shoes. You know what it is to be the wife less chosen.  Whether it be the displacement by a husband's hobby, or job, or some possession he holds dear, or a mistress, or fantasy mistresses, you know intimately the deep pain of being relegated to the "lesser one."

When I arrive in Glory, I want to find Leah.  I want to sit and talk with her.  After carefully studying her saga, I find her altogether beautiful. 

She knew.... knew.... her husband "loved Rachel more." Genesis 29:30

Playing second fiddle to anything or anyone in a husband's life is a deplorable existence, but glory, to one's sister!  That is a double dose of misery!   

My heart melts at verse 31, "....the Lord saw....."    When this knowledge hits the present day Leahs out there on a personal level of knowing HE SEES, tears of joy surely come. The sign to Leah that He saw her state, that He saw her heart, was that He opened her womb.  Think on that for a moment. The Word does not record that Leah did not love Jacob, and we know she had six sons and a daughter by him. That takes love to a whole other level - I believe - completely missed by Jacob, at the very least in the beginning years.

She bore to Jacob his first three sons in a row, and she states, "Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons."  verse 34

Do you hear the absolute ache from her heart?  I do, and it about brings me to tears.  How many wives, who play second fiddle to something or someone, try one thing or another to gain a "step up" in their husband's heart? Did it work? No, Rachel still held Jacob's heart captive.

But an interesting thing occurs between son three and son four. We find its evidence in the naming of her fourth son - Judah - meaning "Praise."  The Word illumines her state-of-being with verse 35, "‘Now, I will praise the LORD.’"  Fascinating it is that her decision to praise the Lord that came in the midst of great personal sorrow .... and I do believe it was a decision.... gave birth to not only her fourth son, Judah, but the glorious lineage of King David.... and on to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

To the Leahs out there in the utter sorrow of feeling second to whatever or to whomever, I realize God seeing your sorrow does not lessen the pain in the least. A husband chooses his heart's priorities, yet the suffering under  misplaced priorities as a loving wife is a living death unlike none other. But I truly pray you, like Leah, will find a way to take hold of courage, wrestle with God, and come to a deep sense of praise in the midst of your sorrow.  Your husband's choices are his to own and to be given an account for, just as your choices are your own and to be given an account for.  But hear me on this: your husband's choices can not devalue you though you may wrestle against feeling devalued.   

God says emphatically you are His beloved... glorious through and through.

Through the on-going rejection, yet physical use, by Jacob, Leah had a choice to make, and she chose to press into God, finding both sanctuary and comfort in His arms.

As I close out my reflections this evening, my heart can't help but ache for Leah.  She was a daughter of the Most High, yet treated as the lesser one.  We can see her heart's cry throughout the entire saga.  The Word doesn't depict her as vengeful; no, it is her deep sorrow that takes center stage, and I can't help but believe her sorrow was God's sorrow.

With regards to present day when one wife and only one wife is lawful (at least in Western culture from which I am rooted), when a husband allows his thoughts to guide his actions and his affections towards something or someone NOT his wife, that kind of sorrow goes to the grave with her.

My prayer is that all the present-day-Leahs gather the courage and resolve to praise the Lord in the valley of sorrow.... for surely praise gives way to "Issachar" (Leah's fifth son) -- meaning "reward" .... and thereafter "Zebulun" (her sixth son) --- meaning "dwelling."    Perhaps as the years ticked off, she was eventually valued by Jacob as God had always valued her, as His beloved, but if not, I wholeheartedly believe she found a treasure like no other: her dwelling place smack in the center of God's heart. 

Sending my love to all the Leahs...YOU are God's beloved! 

May you discover YOU are given place... 
....the highest place there is....
the center of God's heart!