Monday, July 28, 2014

Compassion, Mercy and....Coffee

I slept until nearly 10:00 this morning.

If you know me, you know that's a big deal. I just don't do that.

I rolled out of bed and the only thing I could think of was coffee. It's not the caffeine. My nerves can't handle too much of the hard stuff. It's just the taste and the warmth and the idea of a fresh cup of sweet decaffeinated goodness.

To me there's just something comforting and satisfying about a morning that includes an unhurried, laid-back cup of coffee. This morning I savored every sip.

I spent the rest of the day cleaning the house, organizing closets, and planning projects to complete around the house later in the week. (I still have no job, so I have a lot of free time, you know...) This afternoon when Scott suggested Jason's Deli for dinner, I was more than ready to jump on board. We ran into several friends at dinner and ended up sitting at the restaurant talking for a long time after we finished eating. Freezing from all the free ice cream I'd consumed during the conversation, I grabbed a cup of decaf coffee to sip on while we continued to talk. Scott jumped up to grab some regular coffee, but returned to the table with more sweet tea instead. "That coffee is terrible," he said. Apparently the regular coffee wasn't as fresh as the decaf...

When we got home tonight I sat down to read a little. I've been doing a word study on faithfulness and this evening it led me to Lamentations.

"Yet I call this to mind, 
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's faithful love
we do not perish,
for His mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness!
I say:  The Lord is my portion,
therefore I will put my hope in Him.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
to the person who seeks Him."
Lamentations 3:21-25

Would you believe that Scripture reminded me of coffee? 

I get up each morning and brew a fresh pot of coffee. It's new. It's fresh. It's comforting. It's a delight to my taste buds.

If I don't finish the whole pot I leave the rest sitting until the next day. What if I woke up one morning and decided to just finish off the pot from the day before? I have a feeling it wouldn't taste so good. I have a feeling my taste buds would promptly declare their disgust. My response would be to turn away and grab something else, just like Scott did tonight at Jason's Deli.

The Lord's mercy and compassion are new every morning. His faithfulness is unspoiled. It's fresh. It's comforting. It's a delight to my soul. I have no need for anything else. If all other comforts in this life (including coffee) are removed, He is my portion. He is sufficient. 

Savor your coffee. Savor Him more.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I Don't Deserve This

Twenty-one years ago I was sitting in my political science class at Carson-Newman pondering whether or not to take the LSAT. I'd always wanted to be in broadcasting, but I'd recently grown increasingly interested in politics and law. In the midst of mulling over my future, a sudden wave of nausea and panic came over me and I felt the room spinning. Somehow I made it out of the classroom and into the nearest bathroom. Fellow students helped me to the infirmary where the nurse suggested I see my family doctor. Later that day I was sitting in my doctor's office listening to him tell me that I was pushing myself too hard and that I'd obviously just suffered a panic attack. I shrugged it off until a couple of days later when I couldn't force myself to go back to class. I was scared to death that it would happen again. Needless to say, I never returned to Carson-Newman.
And I said, "God, I don't deserve this."

Fifteen years ago, after 8 years of marriage, Scott and I decided it was time to have children. I quit taking birth control and we were certain it would happen right away. After all, my mother and sister both became pregnant at the snap of a finger (well, not exactly, but you get the idea). This might be too much information, but my menstrual cycle completely stopped after I quit the pill. During the 6 years that we actively tried to conceive, I did not have one.single.period. Not one. I saw specialists at Duke and UNC Chapel Hill during our time in North Carolina and no one could explain why I wasn't cycling and why I couldn't get pregnant. One doctor told me it was all in my head, stating that subconsciously I really didn't want children and that my mind was telling my reproductive system not to function properly. I cried many tears during those painful years.

And I said, "God, I don't deserve this."

Nearly two months ago I was told I was losing my job. I was hurt. I was scared. My mind raced with the fears and anxieties that come with knowing you're losing a needed income and facing a job search. I cried the 'ugly cry' for a month. Tears soaked my pillow, my desk calendar, my treadmill, my steering wheel.... You name it, I cried on it.

And I said, "God, I don't deserve this."

Tonight I was driving home from a day trip to visit friends in Manchester. Franklyn was asleep in the back seat and I was blaring praise and worship music. I was singing along and deliberately studying each word as it came out of my mouth. Praises rolled off my tongue with ease and I felt indescribable joy.

And I said, "God, I don't deserve this."

And you know what? That's the truth. I DON'T deserve this. I don't deserve the peace I have right now. I don't deserve to have had the joy of working from home for fifteen months. Absolutely NOTHING I've done merits the delight I have when I look into the eyes of my precious son. I don't deserve an incredible husband that loves me in spite of my nastiness. I look back and I know God protected me when He kept me from going down the path that leads to law school. I would've been a miserable woman and a terrible wife if I'd become an attorney because the stress would've eaten me alive. If I were given my due, I'd be destined to hell and this life would only be the precursor.
I do know that I'm blessed beyond measure, simply because I honestly don't deserve this.

"He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve or repaid us according to our offenses." Psalm 103:10

That being said, I challenge you. What are three things in your life that you don't deserve? What has happened to you to cause you to say, "God, I don't deserve this"? Can you now look back and see those things as blessings in disguise? Feel free to comment below or share with me on my Facebook page.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ain't That Peculiar

Here I sit.

I have a little over a week until my job with the company I've served for 8 years ends. ENDS.

In the midst of it all, there's something peculiar about the way I feel today. I guess that's the right word. It's peculiar because it's not something I expected. At all.

I feel peace.
I didn't feel it a week ago. I didn't feel it two days ago. I feel it today. 

"Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful."
John 14:27

Understand, I have a lot of reasons to be worried. I have no real job opportunity lined up. Our savings will be depleted. The joy and convenience of working from home will no longer be my reality. Reasons to be fearful are piling up, accumulating like the dust on my stove (wink wink). I'm most likely looking to be unemployed for the first time in my life with no promise of a new job on the horizon. It's not something I'm looking forward to.

My hope isn't in my next job. My hope isn't in the assurance of something better to come. There might not BE something better in my future.

My only hope is in the knowledge that there is a sovereign hand at work. I expect nothing but what is right for Him to give. That being said, I trust Him with what it is to come. He is still good.

"Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him."
Psalm 62:5
This peace has been a long time coming. I've had a lot of people tell me over the course of the last five weeks, "This might end up being the best thing that ever happened to you." It got to the point that each time I heard those words I wanted to say, "Really? How about if I reach out my hands and strangle you? Would that be the best thing that ever happened to YOU?"  Don't get me wrong. I know people meant well. But at the time, it was the last thing I wanted to hear. Now I look back at the last five weeks and realize it's ALREADY been a blessing in a strange way. I've been able to take a day off every week due to company pay cuts across the board and I've felt less stressed about my job. I guess I lived with the fear of losing my job for so long that now it almost feels like a weight has been lifted.

I honestly can't understand how anyone can live this life without the hope of Christ. In the light of day and deepest darkness of night I know He has my back.
"I look up to the mountains;
does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.
He won't let you stumble,
your Guardian God won't fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel's
Guardian will never doze or sleep.
God's your Guardian,
right at your side to protect you--
Shielding you from sunstroke,
sheltering you from moonstroke.
God guards you from every evil,
he guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
he guards you now, he guards you always."
Psalm 121

My God doesn't sleep. My God offers hope and a peace that surpasses all understanding. I'm giving up some control and learning to accept the peace He offers. Now, for me, THAT is peculiar.