Thursday, February 24, 2011

In His presence

I love email.
And letters
And chats
And texts
And phone calls

Not in and of themselves but because they are all ways to be connected to the ones I love when I can't do what I really want which is to be with them - in person  (preferably over coffee)!

But the reality is that I am here and they are there and in some cases there are hundreds of miles in between.
So we chat and while that is good there are always plans being made to be together, in person.
Why?
Because when you love, words on a screen are not enough.
You want more.
You want to be in their presence - to hear their voice while seeing their face and being seen yourself - to be able to hug and hold and just be - all senses engaged - with them.

We read the letter God's given us.
We chat with Him in prayer.
We send our love with our worship and how we live our lives.

But it's not enough.
I want more.
I want to be in the presence of this One I love.
All because of a love affair that started when a young girl heard that God was knocking on her heart's door and she opened it because He wanted to be with her and now her adult soul longs to someday be with this One she's been loving all her life.

We don't think much about the coming of Christ.
It is a "someday" event for which there is little space in our "got to do a million things today" thinking. But there is going to be that someday.
Someday we will be with our bridegroom.
Someday with arms open wide He will say to us "Come!" and we will!
We will be with the One whom our hearts love.

"Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy" I Peter 1:18 NIV

Someday all texts, and chats, and emails will end and we will be in His presence.
Forever!
Rejoicing!
With Him as we've never been before...

Because you invited Him into your heart's home and one day He'll  invite you to His home- how amazing and longed for is that?!

Maranatha!
Oh Lord, come quickly!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The incredible power of presence

I would love to do great things.
To have, someday, a obituary that was a full fat paragraph of the profound life I've lived.

Leader of this, influencer of that, and that there would be so many great accomplishments that they'd  have to be sorted in greatness so as not to exceed the allotted word count.

But I find that to this point my "accomplishments" are not remarkable; as a matter of fact they're pretty mundane and can be contained in a single sentence...

"Wife of...
Mother of....
Daughter of....
Friend to....
Worker in..."

I find my contribution to society largely has just been being a part of it. There are no books with my name, no articles with my byline. No sonnets, no sculptures, and no amazing business formulas that have revolutionized the economy.

What there has been are lots of scribblings of thoughts and lunch bag doodles, homework done,  play times,washed clothes, homework done, meals made, vacations taken, groceries bought, prepared, and cleaned up from, people shuttled from here to there and did I mention all the homework??

And when the homework is done (for the moment) there are the conversations - with the kids about friends, and teachers, and sports, and silly ideas and statistics (don't ask) and all that whirls around in their head and  then conversations with the husband concerning plans and finances and schedules and the future. And then there are the emails, coffee dates, and lunch gatherings with friends where the river of words flow freely over both the mundane and the profound. 

What I am, and what you are, is present.
And as simple as it sounds, it's an amazing thing.

I think of so many times when I needed someone to be there for me, and there was and it strengthened, encouraged, and comforted me. Knowing that I was not going to have to deal with this alone gave me courage to keep on going.

But I also know of the despair when there is no one there to care. Muted screams for help because there's no one to hear. Abandoned and alone.

But when there is someone there...It is a  security that stabilizes as a solid foundation; being able to address and email or pick up a phone knowing that on the other end there is someone in your world.

Reliable.

Able to be counted on.

There. For. You.

And while you could make a list of those for whose presence you are grateful, realize that there are many who would write your name on their list. Those for whom your presence makes them strong and able.

I may never be "great"
But I can choose to be present.

Perhaps, after all, a single sentence is more than enough...

"Becky Eppley - wife of, daughter of, mother of, friend to - present, throughout her life, to those she loved."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

To skate or not to skate

"It's just like riding a bike" I assured my daughter as we were lacing up our ice skates. "Don't worry, you'll remember how to do it."

And so we clumped our way onto the ice and as she shakily pushed off  I realized unsteadily that my skates were way too loose. Clump, clump back to the bench. Untie, uncleat, pull the laces tight starting from the bottom, rezigzag through the clips, clump, clump back to the ice.

Then I found that I was absolutely wrong. This was so NOT like riding a bike as I grabbed for the side of the rink. Tentatively I tried stimulate that muscle memory of how skating works and found my muscles were suffering from Alzheimer's! Perhaps it was from the lack of blood flow to my feet as the laces were now a fantastic tourniquet!

Back to the bench, back to the ice to give to all the impression that I was a total novice. As I (so not!) glided around the rink I was incredulous! As a child living in faculty housing of Northland International University, one year it flooded behind the houses and then froze and we were given the amazing gift of a sheet of ice a block long! Every day after school every kid tossed their books, grabbed the skates and stayed out until it was too dark to see. This was the year of Eric Heiden's Olympic victories so we shoveled out a speed skating rink and mimicked his style. There was a big open shoveled rink and an area of streets and "houses" where we'd set up a town. I spent,what seemed to be the entire winter, on skates and here I was now arms flailing. What in the world had happened?

Time had happened.
And fear.

As a teen falling was not a big deal, actually it was part of the process especially while trying some of those speed skating cross overs but now I knew that falling could be disastrous and I was not going to do anything that would send me sprawling across the ice because I knew for sure, without a doubt,  that I would break something. 

And so I tried a little to regain my ability to forward skate, a slow tentative turn and some backward strokes. All around me kids were flying and falling and I continued inching around as the old woman skater I'd become.

Between my ankles, and my fear, and disappointment I soon called it quits, put on my shoes, and pulled out the camera to take video of the kids who were flying and falling and having a good time.  My tall son was even taller on skates when I, shoe clad, stood on the ice and I realized this is where we were headed. He to grow and me to shrinkage if I let my fears dictate how I live my life and refuse to strap back on those skates.

Physical fear is one thing and, believe me, I wish the  people I love had more of it sometimes as I see some of the stunts they attempt! But emotional fear, fear of failure, of embarrassment, robs us of the ability to attempt and, if we don't attempt, how will we ever accomplish?

If the Bible tells us that we can do all things we can't just run with that part of the verse. We can do through Christ who gives us strength.(Philippians 4:13)
How much strength does Christ have? How capable is He? Is it possible that even when I am ground that is not solid but slick and wearing shoes not with soles but thin blades, that He can keep me upright? I'm all for comfort zones and I've found that as I've stepped back from working and church activities that I am more reluctant to put myself out there as my "muscle memory" becomes more distant but as long as I stay "here" I'll never get to the "there" I want to be. And the longer I stay here the less I desire to get to there and the further away there becomes...

But what does it mean to this cycle of fear and failure and not trying if there was a very capable one who offered to come alongside me on that ice? What if Eric Heiden appeared and  said he'd make sure that I would be okay? Would I then try again? If I was holding onto the arm of a pro would their steadfastness cause me to try again?

It's an easy answer. Of course I'd try again if by my side was an expert...
And if this is true for the ability to skate does it not also hold true for doing life with the God who created and rules the universe at our side?

So the question then remains; Do we put on the skates for ourselves or sit on the sidelines applauding others as they fly by?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How things change

It's melting!!

By week's end the Blizzard of 2011 will be nothing but a memory as warm temps are slowly turning the mountains of snow into  rushing rivulets! But because the snow was so deep, it's hard to see the effect of the warmer weather except by comparisons.

We have a sign for a political candidate on our lawn which was completely buried; then I noticed I could see the slightest bit of the top peeking through. The next day three inches of color was popping out of the snow drift and now you can actually read it again. Although the ground is still covered with white there is much less of it than there used to be!

Subtle changes.

Warming temperatures.

Melting snow.

Changing landscape.

As we watch it happening outside our windows there's the realization that the same thing is happening in our hearts. Sometimes there is a blizzard and things change suddenly and drastically but so often God is working little by little; lining things up so that when the opportunity or incident comes, we are ready for it.

"Then, at his command, it all melts. He sends his winds, and the ice thaws" Psalms 147:18 NLT

Just like that.

The temperatures will hit a certain point and all the snow will disappear, not because it's the magic point but because it has already been moving in that direction. We may not realize that the same thing is happening on our own hearts.

Just because we may not see any progress in our lives, or dreams, or growth at the moment; let us rest in the assurance that God is continually working through the circumstances of our lives to prepare us for what He has in store for us and that, "all of a sudden", the ice will melt and we'll be filled with all that is green and growing. The promise is that He is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28) and that He will continue continue the good work He has started in us until it is completed (Philippians 1:6) so while we may just see cold giant impenetrable mountains of white, God is working.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Powered by the Son

I have this ridiculous solar powered flower on my desk - observe how silly it is...
(click here if the video doesn't come through)
So when the light is shining on it, it just does its thing - rocking back and forth and making me smile.
What amazes me is how continuous it is. It just keeps going and going and going...!

A bit like life I think - life and we just keep going and going.
There is never an end to what is asked of us; always moving, hoop jumping, and continuing to put one foot in front of the other...

This silly flowers source of power is the sun - as long as it's shinning it can keep on going.

It is also our source of power...

"Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might..." Ephesians 6:10 NKJV

We are not supposed to do it on our own. We don't have to do it on our own.
We're not called to "charge our batteries" on Sunday in a good worship service and attempt to run on that for the rest of the week.
Nope, we just need to be sure we're near the Son and He will provide all the power we need! Continuously! 
Just as this flower will never exhaust the power of the sun nor can we ever exhaust the bountiful stores of His love, grace, and strength for our lives! How amazing and encouraging is that?

Friday, February 4, 2011

What do you do when there is nothing you can do?

“My soul clings to you; Your strong right arm holds me securely” Psalms 63:8 ESV/NLT

When the situation is fiery. Desperate. Unmanageable. Inescapable. What do you do?

“My soul clings to you”

No matter how independent, strong, and capable we are there are always those times: times when we’re unable to effect necessary change.

What do you do?
Cry “help”.

The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right; His ears are open to their cries for help Psalms 34:15 NLT

Peter started off confident and then he was, literally, in over his head and the Bible tells us that his response was “Lord, save me!" Matthew 13:40

Nothing flowery, no bulleted list of needs and suggested solutions, just a desperate cry for help.

Do you realize the trust contained in a cry for help?
“Help! I am powerless and I am totally dependent on your strength to save me. I can do nothing but am relying on you to do everything.”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths" Proverbs 3:5,6

What does it mean to trust?

“My soul clings to you”

And what is the response to such trust?

“Your strong right arm holds me securely.”