This is the Day

exploring the soul's quest for joy

Month: October 2016

Bloom Where You're Planted


Part 2 in a 4 part series on Psalm 37


Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.                             


The Land.


Something we take for granted in the free western world. But something that was of supreme importance to nomadic people in search of a place to call home. In scripture, the land held a special significance to followers of God. It represented for them God’s promises, their security, and their hope for a future.


I still think about verses that speak of the land in this way. They are God’s promises to me. And they have everything to do with my security, and my hope for a future.


Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Or in today’s language, Bloom where you’re planted.



Life comes with neither a roadmap nor an instruction manual. And our journey through life is most often not a straight line from beginning to end, but instead follows its own unpredictable path with many unplanned excursions along the way. My own life has had so many unforeseen twists and turns, many exciting, some scary, that I could never have predicted its course when I stood on the cusp of adulthood. This kind of unpredictable living leads to the inevitable questioning:


What am I doing with my life?


Where is all this leading?


When will I be settled so real life can begin?


And God whispers to me to dwell. Not just to travel through, waiting for the real deal to begin. But to truly dwell in every place where He leads me. To dwell there completely by being faithful with what He has given me and with what He is asking of me.


Every stop in the journey of life is an opportunity to cultivate faithfulness, to bloom where I’m planted. And it strikes me that perhaps I sometimes ask the wrong questions. Perhaps my questions stem from a desire to walk by sight and not by faith, so that I know with certainty where this journey of life will take me. Perhaps the right questions stem from the overflow of a contented spirit whose trust is in God.



Who in my world presently needs nurturing?  


What is the good work to which God has called me in this place?


How can I share acts of faithfulness with others so that God’s love is cultivated in them?


And as my gaze shifts to outwardly focused questions instead of inwardly focused ones, my heart can respond with a willingness to look to the Lord, following his lead, so that I might truly dwell in the land to which He has directed me.


Those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.


His promises are ever true.



Doing Good


Part 1 of a 4-part series on Psalm 37                                                


Trust in the Lord and do good.


It’s hard to do good when I’m busy fretting. When something is bothering me, all I seem to be able to think about is that thing. Worry has a way of doing that, doesn’t it? Consuming so much mental energy that we hardly have time to think about anything else, let alone have time to actually do good.


Instead, when I’m consumed by worry, I’m often more apt to do bad than to do good.


Like the bad that comes when I scowl at everyone I come in contact with because my worries have swallowed up my smiles.


Or the bad that comes when I lose patience with my husband because in that moment, my concerns and cares have outpaced my love.


Or the bad that comes when I yell at my children over the smallest infraction, not because what they did was necessarily so awful, but simply because my need to get my own way has eclipsed my ability to think and act lovingly.


It’s just too easy to do bad when I’m not trusting God.


When I’m overcome by worry it seems all I can think about are my own unmet needs. That’s a sure sign I’m not trusting God! I think it’s actually a reflection of my own desire to control every situation that affects me and the ones I love. Deep down, I know that if I really were in control of every situation that frightens or overwhelms me, then I would never have to face my deepest fears. I would never need to learn to trust in God.


Learning to trust begins with learning to be still. It begins with learning to put aside my frantic need for control and waiting to hear from God instead.


Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.


It is as I let go of my need to be in control, and as I name my fears and begin to entrust them to God’s love and care for me, that my need to trust in myself can shift to a willingness to trust in God. It is in taking my eyes off myself and gazing on the One who holds me in the palm of his hand, that my mind can center on the beauty of my Savior. It is when I see His character and experience His love that I can grow in trust.


And when I’m trusting and fixing my eyes on Him, it’s so much easier to do good.


Because He is good.


His Eye is on My Sparrow


I crossed a threshold in my life as a mother a few weeks ago. It was a moment filled at once with expectation at the adventure that lies ahead, and sorrow over what is understandably lost.


The moment came as I made the long journey from Philadelphia to Raleigh, NC to launch my first-born into “real life.” Like the signs that warn of “Severe Tire Damage” if you attempt to reverse out of the direction in which you are traveling, there is no backing out now. The bird has left the nest, and there will be no flying back in.


I often hear people say at this stage of life, “I can’t believe how fast it went!” I honestly can’t say that it went fast. None of it went fast. I took it slow, and so, for me, it all went slow, real slow.


Long moments with the unborn baby inside, pondering the mystery of the life growing within me. Daily walks in the park, rain or shine, with the baby in the pram, nestled warm and dry. Frequent visits to the firehouse or the library, hand in hand with the boy as he skipped up and down the curb, as though we had all the time in the world to explore together. Endless hours pitching baseballs, kicking soccer balls, and swimming in the pool together, because (did I mention it?) the boy has boundless energy.


There were countless trips to the pediatrician for the chronic ear infections, the runny noses, the surgery and the stiches. There were hours upon hours of bedtime stories and homework help and lingering conversations around the dinner table. There were sports practices and games, baseball and soccer tournaments near and far. There was laughter. There were tears. There were late-night snacks for two that inevitably gave way to the best and most important talks between a mother and her dearly loved son.


It didn’t go fast; it went full.


It went full throttle and I didn’t miss a thing. And I am so very grateful.


But now, as I stand with my nest a little less full than I would like, a heaviness descends upon my heart. It’s not just the heaviness of a heart that aches for my precious one to be with me still. It is also the heaviness of uncertainty. Have I taught him everything he needs to know? How will he be guided in life’s major decisions? Who will take my place and love and care for my son?


fullsizerender-2And God speaks to me, reminding me that His promises in scripture apply not just to me, but also to my precious son. If His eye is on the sparrow, then certainly His eye is on my son and He will care for him. He reminds me that His love for my son far surpasses my own love for him. He reminds me that my son is first and foremost His son, and that it was God after all who entrusted him to my care 22 years ago.


He reminds me that He has a wondrous plan for my child. “For I know the plans I have for your child,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper him and not to harm him, plans to give him hope and a future.” He has a plan for my child, as surely as He has a plan for me, and I can rest in that assurance.


He reminds me how much He loves and cares for my son and that each and every promise I find in scripture applies not just to me but to everyone who calls on the name of the Lord. In confidence I can lean on God’s words from Isaiah 43:


Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed your son.

    I’ve called his name. He is mine.

When he’s in over his head, I’ll be there with him.

    When he’s in rough waters, he will not go down.

When he’s between a rock and a hard place,

    it won’t be a dead end—

Because I am God, his personal God,

    The Holy of Israel, his Savior.

I paid a huge price for him:

    all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!

That’s how much he means to me!

    That’s how much I love him!

I’d sell off the whole world to get him back,

    trade the creation just for him.


I look around me and take one final inventory of the room that has now become my son’s bedroom in his new home. We accomplished much in 24 short hours. I blow out the candle and place my love letter to him on his pillow. I shut out the light and gently close the door. My work here is done.


The invitation is the same as it ever was. To choose trust over worry. To believe that God’s love never fails. To rest in the unfailing arms of the One who has His eye on my sparrow.



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