What’s your dead spot? There’s hope!

She came bearing a gift. I inquired.”Hey, what’s in the bag?” Liz, a beautiful, young woman who had asked if I’d mentor her, grinned at me. Her eyes sparkled as she and pulled a delicate orchid plant out from the brown grocery bag and set it before me on the table where I was seated. She peered directly into my eyes, smiled her familiar smile then paused to collect herself, her thoughts and her composure. She exhaled and said, “I’m not going to cry, but I just want you to know how grateful I am for the time that we’ve had together as you have been meeting with me for almost a year now. So I bought this orchid to say thank you.” I was touched and thrilled. “Aw, It’s so lovely! Thank you.” I  thought. This blooming orchid represented a year of: Tea, tissue, tons of tears, talks, journals, scriptures, coordinating schedules, lots of prayer and many hugs.

Liz had asked to be mentored during a time when it felt like the rug had been pulled out from under my feet. It seemed like the rug was, at times, slipping and I was trying to ride it like a magic carpet. I rode somewhat unsteadily, yet still I remained standing. Phew- Glory to God! During that year God sent Liz directly to me, no doubt. Our meetings were God’s appointments. She has the gift of tears. I mean tons of them in plentiful supply. She’s able to cry easily and feel empathy deeply. This a gift for someone experiencing loss and confusion and grief.

God sent her for sure! It’s a mutual relationship, but more than me simply pouring into her she has also lavished me with care, concern and compassion. I was so delighted in this lovely blooming gift she gave me. So I thanked her, gave her a big squeeze and suggested, “Let’s head upstairs for Bible study.”

As was my ritual those evenings, I met my husband, our son and daughter-in-law and her parents for sushi dinner after Bible study. Because that year had so many unknowns and I’m extremely relational this trusted rhythm was both predictable and a true highlight in my week. So I left Bible study, dashed through the frigid parking lot and raced over to the restaurant. In my haste, I forgot the orchid on the floor of the back seat of the car. It was pretty cold outside so that was my grave error.

Later when I brought the orchid in my house it already had begun to show signs of dying. The next day the green leaves at the base were pitch black, most of the flowers had fallen off except for a few dangling pedals. I knew I had killed the very plant which represented so much life and love. Seriously, it didn’t make it in my possession even 24 hours? I was so bummed and frustrated because I didn’t remember to take the plant in while we ate sushi.

As I looked at the pathetic plant, I knew I couldn’t just toss it. Ugh! I doubted it would ever grow, but I hoped for what seemed impossible. I kept it with the other plants that my husband tends to and waters. I felt silly because I had to cut most of it away. It had every indication of never blooming again. The following year only the green leaves were  growing without a stem or any flowers at all, but I waited and hoped against hope. This year, to my great amazement and joy, it bloomed!

Now let me ask you. What’s your dead spot? Is there something in your life that feels dead without hope of ever blooming again?   I guess I’m asking what’s your orchid? Yeah, I know, it’s probably not an orchid. Yet maybe you feel like you’ve killed something, neglected something or someone and now there’s no hope. What is your “dead orchid?” While you’ve read this perhaps you’ve thought about:

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  • a dream
  • a relationship 
  • a marriage
  •  an orchid
  • your health
  • a child
  • a friendship
  • a gift
  • a talent
  • your finances

Hope is the eager expectation that something better is in store tomorrow.

Romans 5:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 64:4  Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

James 1:17  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Just like the way I inquired of my sweet, young friend Liz, “Hey, what’s in the bag?” I believe God too comes bearing gifts which he desires to give. He pulls the gift from His bag, sets it on the table of our lives. He smiles at us, looks into our eyes and says, “I am the God of all hope and every good and perfect gift comes from me. Child I know you’ve been waiting. Do you to want see what’s finally come to bloom? Here you go! Trust me I always give good gifts.”

photo credit: Rachel Inouye (YEP! That’s the blooming orchid!)

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I want it…but where is it?

After I kissed my husband goodbye he opened the door and shut it quickly. I bolted it. Burr! Keep the frigid air from streaming inside the house! I ascended the steps and looked for my coffee cup in the kitchen but I didn’t see it. I climbed the steps to the next level and looked beside the chair where I had been earlier. Did I set it here? My coffee cup wasn’t on the little stool beside my chair either. Hmm? Maybe I left it on my nightstand? No, not there! My slippers swished as I shuffled along into the bathroom to see if it was on the counter but it wasn’t. Man! Where did I put that thing?

Next I went into the closet. “Perhaps I set it on the shelf inside here? I said. Nope! I spun around and walked back out to the kitchen. As I traveled, I heard myself in coaching tone, Don’t worry you’ll find it! Just keep looking. Rachel, you just had it don’t give up! I glanced again at the counter which was completely clear. Where else have you been this morning? I know I’m not going crazy, I just had it!

I chuckled because I was determined to find it.  I retraced my steps again: beside the bed, into the bathroom, into the closet, into the kitchen, up stairs and beside my chair. I searched in all of the places I had already been a second time.  Why?  I wanted  my coffee and I knew it could be found! I had just had it a few minutes ago.

Finally I remembered earlier I had warmed my coffee up. Oh, maybe it’s in the microwave! So I opened the microwave and spied it. There you are! One sip confirmed it was completely cold but I found it!

A few years ago I didn’t even drink coffee, but now I really wanted my coffee as I planned to continue my morning routine.  Determined, I didn’t give up. I kept searching partly because I wanted it and because I knew it was somewhere in my house. I  kept on seeking, searching and looking until I found it!

I thought about seeking God, wanting Him enough to go after Him in major search mode. I thought of the Bible verse Jeremiah 29:13 “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD. What a great promise. God is good and He never plays hide and seek. He is a seek and find kind of God. It gets even better!

When I returned to my chair this morning, coffee cup in hand, these were the verses I read. Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” How great is this truth. He never leaves or abandons us. For the believer, one who acknowledges Jesus as Lord and Savior, there is only the need to recognize His presence because He is already right with us. He has promised never to leave or forsake us.  So the major searching mode is no longer the main thing, but letting the realization and promise of his nearness sink in. He is right here with us.  He lives in us by His Spirit, so we don’t lose Him and have to find Him again. This is key.

Stop the frantic searching. Settle down.  Think of it like this; it’s like looking for a pair of eye glasses or readers only to realize they are either around your neck or on top of your head. Yes, both have happened to me. Aw, they’re right here with me!

Be encouraged today. Jesus lives inside the believer and will never leave or abandon you. He promises to be found and He never leaves or forgets about you. So might I suggest you do what I did this morning, shut the door of you mind and bolt it! Just keep the frigid air of the enemy or your own thoughts out. Then grab a cup of coffee sit down and rest in the warmth of Jesus’ love.  He loves you!

You’re all set! A perspective shift.

Seated in a comfy chair while chatting with a young woman, I sipped my honey and cinnamon latte. Yummy! It was comforting!  I loved the cadence of my sweet friend’s voice as we caught up on life. She talked about the future unknown events in her life. It seemed this wasn’t so comforting for her. I remember thinking, I don’t want her to be anxious or nervous because God has her.  He is preparing in advance the things for her to do.  I’m not sure whether I helped her or not, but I did listen. We prayed about what was still looming on the horizon for her and there seemed to be a perspective shift.

When I think too far ahead about the future, anxiety can creep in. Yes, I realize we have to look to the future, but does it have to be looming? Can there be a sense of eagerness and excitement instead? God is out ahead, so it’s going to be good, because God is good. God has been so faithful to me and he never changes so he will continue to be faithful in the future as well. There is no reason to fret or get worried. I haven’t mastered this, but I’ve come to realize I’m being set up by God! How cool is that? God, creator of the universe and lover of my soul, is going before me and preparing the things I am to do in advance.

This concept of preparing and being all set made me think of my early parenting years. I remember how when my children were young, I mean really young, I would ask my husband to bathe them. I recall when one was a new-born, I’d say, “Honey, will you give the baby a bath?” He was willing to help and replied, “Sure!”

The crazy thing I remember now is how I would do ALL the prep work. I’d run the bath water to the perfect temperature. Then I’d drag a space heater in the bathroom to ensure it would remain nice and warm. I would collect all the various items needed:  washcloth, soap, baby shampoo and set the little sponge foam thing inside the tub to lay the baby down. I’d place the bath mat next to the tub so Michael could kneel easily. The little sweet hooded, terry cloth towel was set on the toilet so he could easily grab it. I’d also gather a new diaper and fresh pair of PJs and have them accessible.

As I left the bathroom, I  would crack up thinking,  basically I’ve done everything needed for this task except for bathe the baby! I’ve done all this work now I might as well bathe the baby myself.  But I’d holler to my husband, “Okay, You’re all set!” Of course Michael would have to give the baby a bath. It would require his participation. But I was basically setting him up. He was all set because I had prepared in advance what he was to do.

Like my bath time preparation memory, God is so good and is always setting us up too and scripture confirms it. I remind myself today that He goes before me and is preparing my way. I’m reminded that He is good. He is for me not against me. God never changes and is always faithful. He is preparing in advance the things I’m to do. Reminders like these cause me to trust, even become eager and excited about the future, rather than anxious about what lies ahead.

I’m not sure if I shared these verses seated in the comfy chair during the coffee date with my young friend. I can’t remember, but I hope I did. For now, I’ve listed them in different versions to encourage you as you look to your future. Perhaps you’ll have a perspective shift… You’re all set!

Ephesians 2:7- 10 (Message translation) Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work.  All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV

For we are God’s masterpiece. He created us a new in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10 NLT

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8 NIV

The LORD says, I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8

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