Monday, May 18, 2009

He Uses Everything!

...being confident of this very thing,
that He who has begun a good work in you
will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Philippians 1:6

      When I go through difficult times or through things I don't understand, I try to remember that God allowed it, and there is a purpose for it. I may not understand, but I can know that He is in control; He reigns over everything. He is never surprised or taken off guard by anything that happens...He is God. Everything that comes into my life or yours, is sifted through His hands, and they are loving hands. If He allows it in our lives, He will use it...He doesn't waste a thing.

He Uses Everything!
by Charlotte Foster

There’s not a single thing, that passes through a life,
That God does not intend to use, no triumph, pain, or strife.

It’s all a part of His great plan, set perfectly in place.
To teach us hard learned lessons, and demonstrate His grace.

Though some things seem so hard, we don’t think we’ll survive.
But when we reach the end of them, we find we’re more alive.

He stretches us in areas, we thought we couldn't grow.
Maturing us in such a way, His handywork to show.

Often things we thought we knew, are visited once more.
Making sure our trust in Him, resides down at its core.

He wants us to remember, as we walk through life’s hot fires,

The image of His Son in us, is all that He desires.

In the Potter's Hands

By Charlotte

He is the Potter, I am the clay,
Gently He molds me, day after day.

Patiently pressing, firm in His hand,
Sculpting my life, as only He can.

Adding the water, dripped from His word,
Bathed in His presence, a place where He’s heard.

Sunrise to sunset, wheel turning round,
Each touch of His hand, a lesson is found.

Rising and falling, changing my form,
In this earthen vessel, new life is born.

Placed in the fire, through heat now made strong,
To wait for His timing, He knows just how long.

Till no more impurities, hide in the clay,
And things that once hindered, are moved from the way.

To one day stand finished, as a beautiful pot,
Content in His methods, though not what I sought.

In the beginning, I pictured myself,
A lovely tall vase, to sit on the shelf.

But His plans were different-the floor was my seat,
A useful wash basin, placed at His feet.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Growing in God's Garden

I think a lot about gardening this time of year. This is my favorite season, though I enjoy them all. I particularly like spring because it is a wonderful time to plant flowers and vegetables. Miracles are happening all around, quietly underground or in pots and tilled beds. The bulbs and seeds planted in the fall are eager to make an appearance. Before long the yard is all in bloom and life has come back from a long winter’s sleep. I feel awakened with it, caught up in its enthusiasm, as I circle the yard with a hose in my hand.

There is nothing I have seen – and believe me I like to look – that reminds me more of the faithfulness of God than this return of the season of life. Hidden through the dark days of winter are the seeds of hope waiting patiently underground. The cold rain beats down all winter, but as it does it softens the hard shell of the seed to allow the plant to sprout. The ground is loosened and the journey to the light is made ready.

Each plant that pops out its tiny head is drawn toward that light that called it up out of its slumber. Creation joins in celebration as God makes all things beautiful in its time. As I stand in awe and watch the miracles taking place all around me, I can’t help but to see a correlation between what God is doing in the yard, and what He seeks to do in every heart. He has been faithful to plant His seeds there and lovingly tend them through the dark and stormy days, until He has softened and prepared our hearts ground to take bloom.

He wants to grow us into the beautiful lives He created us to be. Our hope is in knowing that He is working there in the hidden places, perfectly timing each stage of growth. I can picture Him smiling as we break ground and turn our tiny heads toward the Light of Life; as lovely flowers in His garden.

“When I planted you, I chose my seed carefully – the very best.” Jeremiah 2: 21

Friday, May 8, 2009

Our Rich Heritage

What a rich heritage we have of godly women who went before us. They are our Great Grandmothers, our Grandmothers and mothers in our “spiritual” family. Chosen women who through the corridors of time have stood as monuments of faith; testimonies of God’s mercy and grace. We cannot be exactly like they were, because God has made us unique and placed us in a time and place of our own, but we can reap the benefits of such a rich heritage of women who have passed down their torch through the ages of time to us – their spiritual daughters.

(“You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your Name.” Psalm 61:5)

Our Rich Heritage
by Charlotte

We have a rich heritage, you and I,
On our Christian family tree.
Godly women who hallowed faith’s ground,
And paved the way for you and me.

They carried no power but that of the cross,
And the bibles they held in their hands.
They fed the hungry and tended the sick,
As prayer warriors they conquered the lands.

Their names were not written on plaques etched in gold,
No fame or fortune attained.
But they lay in the pages of the Lamb’s Book of Life,
For in Him they lived and remained.

They set up their lamps high on a hill,
Those lights still shine to this day.
As the seeds they planted, sprouted and grew,
In fertile hearts as they shared on their way.

Many were called to a mission at home,
Where preachers were raised in their care.
And still others who ushered revival in,
Because of their fervent prayer.

Some hid God’s chosen from Hitler’s regime,
They traded those lives for their own.
In danger of death they served them each day,
As the love of their Savior was shown.

Some took God’s Word to foreign lands,
And shared His grace with the lost.
They learned to move forward and not look back,
They were willing to pay the cost.

Children were rescued, slaves were set free,
Because they obeyed and they went.
When God looked around for someone to go,
A willing heart made it “her” that He sent.

They were His hands, they were His feet,
As they walked through the ages past.
They took their place in God’s hall of faith,
Fully knowing they would not be the last.

We are their daughters, if only we dare,
To join in the work they begun.
To take the baton and run in the race,
Until the last heart has been won.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What Would I Give Them?
By Charlotte

What would I give my boys today if their futures were in my hand?
Nothing but this- that their paths would be straight and each become a godly man.

What would I teach each one of them if all knowledge I could give?
First of all this - that Jesus died, so they could always live.

What would I sing to them today if I sang like the angels on high?
“Jesus Loves Me This I Know,” is the first song I would try.

If I could take them anywhere a man would ever go,
I’d take them first to the rugged cross, and there we would all bow low.

I’d put their hands in Jesus’ and let them hear from Him,
How he died upon that cross, to save them from their sin.

If I could prepare wonderful foods, I’d rather give this instead,
A hunger and thirst for righteousness, and the “Word” for their daily bread.

What would I give to my boys today if all riches were in my hand?
I’d give them a bible filled with God’s truths, so on solid rock they could stand.

I’m only a simple mother…no fancy things to give,
But I can show them Jesus, in the example that I live.

I’ll give them all that is in my heart, and try to do my best,
I’ll put my trust in Jesus, to take care of the rest.

"being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;" Phillippians 1:6

In Honor of Mothers

Remembering My Grandmother

When my grandmother died there were so many things I still wanted to ask her. Questions about her life- my heritage, that will now go unanswered, at least from her perspective. Some things I knew from listening to her reminiscing. Sometimes memories escaped into words before she realized she was thinking out loud. She chose only to share the good. Those rare times when thoughts went back to the not-so-good, she would share only a small glimpse and quickly return to the present.

I know from listening to relatives that life was not easy for her. Childhood was not a walk through a world of wonder and beauty, no, for her and her siblings it was much different. There was abuse that no one wanted to talk about, then or now. Ignorance, poverty, and lack of trust held their childhood hopes and dreams captive in a world of cruelty and injustice. Perhaps she chose not to talk about it because there are no words a person can use to describe such hateful acts done to a child. Some things are too ugly to even be thoughts or whispers.

My heart hurts for that child who was my grandmother, but I never knew that child because she would not share that part of her life with me. For reasons only she knew, she chose to spare us the memory of her pain and neglect. What she chose to share with me was a very different person; leaving the past behind as though she could shut a door and the memories would disappear. Today we would probably call this denial. Is it denial to choose to not live in the hurt of the past; to stop asking over and over again, “why?” She chose to take that energy and use it to live now and to do good works.

She was, as I remember, a very ordered woman. One who had every day of the week planned out, Wednesday was prayer meeting, Sunday was church and rest. In between were the chores, always done on the same day of the week, it was a sure thing. She brought under control a life that as a child she had no control over. Perhaps this was her way of feeling safe, all the edges of her life tucked inside the boundaries of her weekly routine; manageable.

She had her rough edges of moodiness, but inside was a tender heart and a giving spirit. Many a seminary student would receive financial support from her giving heart. Friends and relatives in need were never turned away and seldom had to even ask. She was not rich with wealth but always seemed to have enough to share.

She loved to collect things and enjoyed buying these things for others. She collected dolls and I wonder now if she ever had one when she was a little girl. If not, was it enough to have them now? As I look at her dolls I think of the little girl inside my grandmother and her life now passed. It seems so strange for them to be here without her.

When she died I could only think that I wanted to know her better, though I’ve known her all my life. How could there be so much I didn’t know? What I do know is that the time she was my grandmother, she was a godly woman. She wasn’t always that way, but that part of her life she also chose not to share with me. My imagination mixed with the small portions I did hear about, have created in my mind a memory of a very wild period in her life; the time she met my grandfather. That is where my knowledge ends. I think if she were here right now and I asked her about this period of her life, she would brush it aside as though she were sweeping the floor and say, “Then I got Jesus.” And that would be that.

I knew she loved Jesus, she told me so. But more than telling me, she showed me. I watched her cry and pray over the years in her “prayer meetings” with the Lord. She used to say, “Honey, I’m not sad, I’m happy.” I never understood as a child, but I do now. If it doesn’t involve tears, it’s not praying!

I learned about sacrificial love from watching her. The last part of her life was spent caring for my invalid grandfather. She wouldn’t think of putting him in a “home.” She did this for ten years, and when he died, most of my grandmother’s strength died with him. She sacrificially poured herself out as a drink offering in the service of love to him.

I don’t know much about my family’s past, and if I never learn more, I know this – that my Christian heritage begins here, in the memory of this godly woman I called my grandmother. Though some questions go unanswered, it is enough to know she chose the good in life and put the bad behind her. That is a lesson I hope I have learned.

I picture her in heaven, in the company of my grandfather hearing from the King of Kings, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into my rest.” She was not perfect, no, far from perfect, but covered in His grace.

I miss you grandma! I love you. Thank you for the good memories you left with me. I will cherish them until we are together again.

“You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your Name.” Psalm 61:5