The Better Question

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Why?

It’s a question that reverberates down the halls of human history. Every single soul to have ever lived eventually sits like a child looking at a broken plaything–wondering why things so beautiful, like peace, health, and hopes, could be so easily broken. When the shards of our dreams lay scattered at our feet we lift our voice with millions of others who have wondered as we do…and cry out, “Why?”

And when God doesn’t show up to make a full explanation we do different things. Our trust may crumble, we may shake our fist at Him, curse Him, and say all sorts of things about Him…He must not be good, or all-powerful, or care, or maybe even exist. Some of us just sit and wait, tears falling.

All of us will walk through dark tunnels of suffering. But the older I get and the longer I live in faith and love with Christ the more I realize that the answer to the question of why something happened matters less and less. Our personal ground zero may be just a charred patch of earth… but look up! What is there that wouldn’t have been there without the suffering and without the grace of God?

Can you see something beautiful above that spot of desolation? Something you and I could never have built?

Christ making us more than we were before….

Christ making better able to comfort….

Christ giving us empathy for others…

Christ cementing our hope in His promises…because we have finally seen His faithfulness.

And that’s when we realize, a better question to ask is, “What is He doing?”

That suffering happened suddenly becomes less important than what is happening.

Seeing what God is doing takes good old-fashioned TIME, however. Experiencing God’s faithfulness can’t be rushed. It is the pilgrim’s reward. He promises to make springs for us in our desert journey.

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion.” Psalm 84:5-7

The problem of suffering is a Gordian knot. Man will never be able to prevent it, solve it, or even be able to explain it. And one meager blog post can barely touch the surface of it. What we can do is accept that Christ promises that He is in control of it, uses it only to help us in the long run, and gives us strength to bear it.

May these verses encourage us ask to the better question —What is He doing?

And who knows? In doing so, God may even allow us to see enough of His work to guess at the answer to the other question–Why.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope…”  Romans 5:3 

Elizabeth Hiett

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My Favorite Advent Calendar!

 

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Today’s December 1st and if you haven’t already bought an advent calendar, I just have to share my all-time favorite one with you! In fact, this advent calendar is so charming it’s worth having two! Kids will love it, but I suspect moms will be the ones playing on it most of the time 😉

My mother sent me one years ago and since then I have looked forward to getting these for myself 😉  …Oh, yes..and for my friends and family.

Every year, Jacquie Lawson creates an interactive and uber-charming Christmas wonderland. In her world there is something to explore, discover, learn, or create everyday of December. If you leave it open, this calendar will even serenade you with some classical Christmas music.

Her attention to detail makes this calendar super-fun. The town clock is always set to the  time where you live and if the sun is down in your real world, it is in your advent world too!

The link below will take you to her site’s webpage where you can see a demo of this year’s calendar, which has a Victorian theme.

I just had to share this happy bit of Christmas-time that I love!

Click here to preview! Advent Calendar

Preparing for Advent–The Long Silence

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Silence can be more profound than words. It has a weight of its own. Silence, especially from a loved one, can become unbearable. It can accompany anticipation, precede disaster, or indicate rejection. Often, we don’t know what it portends.

The last words spoken between God and man before Christ’s coming are recorded in Malachi. The emotion of God seeps out in every verse, beginning with, “I have loved you.” (Malachi 1:1) Like a husband in pain, God recounts Israel’s unfaithfulness. The book almost reads like a cross-examination in court. The charges are simple and the proofs of unfaithfulness are easy to see. God’s final words are full of pathos:

4:1“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.

4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules[q] that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

And then….silence.

For 400 years. No prophecy. No songs. No warnings. No words of love. For generations.

And then something happened, something so wonderful we celebrate it to this day. God spoke again–breaking the dark, long silence of an age. Like the sun rising over the horizon and shining on a frosty earth, angels came and told us everything was about to change. The advent of our Savior had arrived. EBH

The Flower of My Youth

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I planted mint, I planted sage, 

I even planted rue,

But the fairest one I planted was the flower of my youth.

Yes, the fairest one I planted was the flower of my youth.

–Lithuanian folk song

I wish you could hear the tune, lilting and carefree. I heard it first in a compilation of children’s songs I played to amuse my children while I worked. Somewhere, slogging through a week’s worth of laundry with four children running circles around me, having just left my twenties behind, the song brought the wisdom of a Lithuanian granny into my life.

I could see her in my mind’s eye while I yanked up stubborn weeds. She ruminates while she sits outside the sun-bathed front of her ancient house, kerchiefed, shelling peas, a small garden of herbs by the front door. She remembers when her waist was tiny and her hair brown–when her husband brought her to this very house. They had nothing–only a few farm implements, some kitchen necessities and a few precious linens embroidered with love from her mama and aunties. He would leave every day to fight for their living and she tried to make what he earned last. And while the baby napped, though she ached with fatigue, she planted her garden. Everything she grew helped.

Her garden is still there. The babies have grown. The herbs still grow, a bower of blossoms. But she sees a plant unlike any other there too, waving its gentle limbs, full of leaves and heavy with flowers. It is invisible but everything else exists because she tenderly laid it in the soft earth of this place. The flower of her youth is here, roots stretching down for fifty years now. She devoted her best, strongest and most beautiful days to this a small, ignominious place. Yes, this flower is the fairest one of all.

She helped me. And she is right. I am fifteen years past the birth of my fourth and last child. My children are all taller than me, growing strong and brave and beautiful.

And I’m in the same little house. But it has changed over the years. Hands that were twenty planted and painted. The rose bush is stretching higher. Its blossoms did not really begin to grow two weeks ago. It is the work of years.

Dear sisters, years count. If your feeling tired, just remember that. Keep on in faithfulness to your calling or to your vows. Do not despise the day of small things (Zech 4:9)… because, in actuality, there are no small things.

All our decisions grow.

Elizabeth Hiett

January 13, 2013

Matthew 14:16-19
But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.

“You give them something to eat.” Such a clear command. But such an impossible one. How could these disciples do that? There were over 5,000 people looking at them expectantly.

That’s the same command He gives to us, everyday. Actually, it is an invitation, for He knows we can’t do it without Him. It is an invitation to be part of His miracle, His work.

So do I feel inept for the work ahead? All I need to do is bring my five loaves and two fish to him–and see what He will do!

Love Confirmed…(see last post!)

Quote

From the Daily Office for Jan. 1st….

You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.

Isaiah 62: 4-5