Reflection…The Rest of the Story

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I apologize a million times over for this being so late posting! I had thought that I published it Thursday! I’m not sure why it hadn’t posted and I was sick yesterday so I wasn’t on the site all day long!!! Please forgive me, dear friends!

 

As I sat reading the many words in my old journals, a tidal wave of emotions swept over me.

There were moments when I forgot that I was reading my own words.

At times, I found myself admiring the author.

Other times, I was disappointed in things I had written…wrong thinking that riddled the page.

 And yet other times, I wanted to climb into a silver DeLorean and head back in time. I’d put my arm around my thirty-something self and assure myself that everything would work out fine in a situation that tore at my heart.

There were certain entries that uncovered old hurts that were laying dormant in my soul.

It became crystal clear as I read that I had spent almost two years in a state of spiritual back-sliding. Throughout the month of January, I’ll share some of the things that God showed me as we walked through the pages of those journals. Things that I suspect you can relate to and possible share in the comment section.

The word remember appears in the Bible one hundred and sixty-one times. That doesn’t include the number of times that the words remembered, remembrance, do not forget, etc. appear.  I believe it is important for us to take time to reflect, to remember.

Hebrews 10:32 says, “Remember those earlier days after you received the light, when you stood your ground in great contest in the face of suffering.”

The poem, “By Your Grace” (see Tuesday, January 5, 2016 post), was such a surprise to me when I read it. I love reading poetry but, I struggle with writing poetry.  I’ve taken two poetry writing classes and was enrolled in one when I had written that poem. As I read it, I found myself remembering how unsatisfied I was with it.  Simply put, I thought it was horrible!

Now, after almost eleven years since I penned it, I actually like it.

Have you ever found yourself treating yourself much too harshly?

Let’s resolve in this new year to be kinder to ourselves.

Let’s step back away from critical words of self judgement.

Let’s love others as ourselves. Our unique, God breathed, molded by Holy hands self.

Can you relate?

Comment below and share your feelings.

Do you keep a journal?

Comment below and share your thoughts.

I’d love to hear from you!

Love,

DLF

 

 

 

Reflection

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Paper is everywhere in my house! With two high schoolers there has never been a shortage of paper.

You could not have convinced of this reality two weeks ago when I was searching high and low for an empty notebook in order to write down some information. I finally started pulling old journals off my bookshelf hoping to find some empty pages to use.

I found myself sitting in the corner of my bedroom two hours later with dozens of old journals strewn across the floor. I was surrounded by recorded thoughts, documented events, past struggles, and forgotten memories.

Like a fine pearl hidden in the belly of an oyster, one of the journals hid this little gem within its pages:

 

                                                                                                                                                         Tuesday, April 26, 2005

 

By Your Grace

 

There is a woman inside of me

That wants to be all she can be.

By Your grace I learn to walk in Your ways.

By Your grace I walk through all of my days.

 

The waves of life toss me about

“But, Your love is faithful,” I want to shout.

To all in my life, I want them to know,

Your love has sustained me through high and through low.

 

Within Your love there is power and strength.

You have reached out to me with the greatest of length.

I know in Your arms I will safely be kept,

As You wipe every tear that has ever been wept.

 

My heart; it wells with deep gratitude

So many times, I hadn’t a clue,

You, my Lord, were there with me,

Walking me through things I did not see.

 

All I have to give is petty and small.

You, O Lord, have given it all.

I humble myself at Your great majesty.

I ask that you worketh in and through me.

 

There will be a day when I will see

You coming to earth with a shout of victory.

Till then, my Lord, I will work, watch, and wait.

I will see You, O Lord, for you are the Gate

 

Through times in darkness, I may stumble and fall.

You teach me to triumph through it all!

By Your grace I learn to walk in Your ways.

By Your grace I walk through all of my days.

 

Dear friend, join me on Thursday and I will share why I was surprised to see this poem in my journal and what the month of January will look like on the blog.

I’m excited to share some things that were revealed to me through some time spent in reflection.

Love,

DLF

Happy Birthday Jesus!

 

Only a few more days remain until we celebrate our Savior’s birthday!

I hope you enjoy this song that captures my feelings beautifully!

Merry Christmas!

With Much Love,

DLF

Pondering in My Heart

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When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about the child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.             Luke 2:15-19

 

I sat looking at my calendar for the first two weeks in December and sighed a heavy sigh. It was so FULL!

Almost all good things filled the boxes on my calendar.

Christmas parties.

Tree lightings.

My daughter’s sweet sixteen party.

And the list goes on and on.

Dentist appointments for myself and the kids were the only things that didn’t promise to be fun and festive.

In all this “busy-ness”, I felt God drawing me ever nearer despite the demand on my schedule. He was drawing me nearer to bask in His goodness and His love.

I can only image what Mary’s days must have been like. She had traveled so far in her state of full term pregnancy. Remember, we’re not talking about loading luggage on a jet plane and snoozing on the journey. We’re talking a long journey on dirt and dust and sand and stone, by foot or the back of an animal.

She had given birth in a stable…cold, dark, and full of critters large and small.

Strangers came to worship her tiny baby.

In the midst of it all, she paused, treasured, and pondered this magnificent wonder.

Let’s follow in Mary’s footsteps this Christmas season and enjoy the fullness of the GIFT that God’s has given us in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ!

 

Love,

DLF

Flannel Pajamas and a Babe in a Manger

 

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Silver tinsel hung from my hair as I reached into a pile of gifts under the Christmas tree. Excitedly, I searched for one with my name written on it. My sister and brother bounced from gift to gift alongside me. Mom sat smiling and giggling with my baby sister in her lap while Dad grimaced as we nearly knocked down the tree. I picked up a gift wrapped in pretty paper.

The card read…

To: Denise

From: Santa

Tickled, I tore open the present. Inside the box, under red tissue paper lay a pair of flannel pajamas. Hmmm, I thought, in my seven year old mind. Funny, these look just like the pajamas that my Mom makes for me. Santa’s elves must have the same pattern.                                              New_1_DSCF0717

Of course, I realized not too far down the road of life that my mom did indeed make those fuzzy, warm, flannel pajamas. That realization made the memory even more precious to me because I felt the love of my mom every time I wore them.

It’s so easy to mix up things around the holidays as frenzied excitement fills the air.

I heard on the news recently that eighty percent of the population buys gifts for themselves while shopping for others. I have been guilty of this. I’ve actually done it at times without even realizing it. I’m out and about in the stores and malls more and I see something that I need at a deep discount and it goes home with me.

Marketers are brilliant at this stuff. They know just how to entice the weary shopper into craving instant gratification.

We can easily be swayed during this season of pretty packages, joyful carols, heartwarming movies, and tasty cookies.

May we not lose sight of the Baby in the manger. That cute little baby wrapped in

swaddling clothe was the Lamb of God. The greatest gift known to mankind. The

gift of everlasting life from a Loving, Divine Father.

Mom’s love for me was in that box all those years ago in the form of a pair of handmade pajamas.

God’s love for me and for you was in the form of a tiny baby in a manger that first Christmas morn.

Holy.

Pure.

Eternal.

Born to die for you and for me.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”   John 3:16

 

Love,

DLF

The Purple Gloves

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After reading the blog post entitled “One Rainy Day”, my friend Sarah Erk shared the following story with me. I was so moved by her story that I asked her if she would write it down to share with you here on the blog and she graciously agreed. Enjoy this beautiful story of God’s abundant care. Be blessed!

 

 

It was Christmastime and I was on a trip to New York City with a few girlfriends. It had been a rough year. Our family was going through a really difficult church transition and I was in need of refreshment and reminder of God’s faithfulness. Over the next few days, I enjoyed good fellowship with my friends in the city, but I was still left wanting a touch from God. That was when something unexpected happened.

On the train coming back from the city, God inclined my heart toward a man who was grieved. He was talking loudly on his cell phone with his New York accent, telling a loved one that his mother was dying and would not likely make it through the New Year. My heart broke for him as I saw his eyes swell up with tears and I saw the anguished emotion on his face. I began to pray for him and asked God to open up an opportunity for me to encourage him. I could see his reflection in the train window and compassion for him rose in me as the train continued.

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Finally, his stop came and he stood up and began to move toward the exit. Again I prayed for an opportunity to connect with the man. As he approached me, he bent over and picked up a balled pair of purple gloves and asked if they belonged to anyone. I realized that the gloves were mine and that this was the opportunity I had been hoping for. I thanked him for returning the gloves and expressed that I had overheard his conversation on the phone about his dying mother.

By expressing my sorrow for the man’s grief, I was able to show compassion to him and also promised to pray for him. His eyes welled up and he gripped my hand and thanked me. The brief exchange had brought him encouragement. I was grateful that God had made a way to connect with him. He departed the train and I breathed a silent prayer for him as he went to see his mother, perhaps for the last time.

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A few moments later, I reached into my pocket to retrieve a tissue and, to my surprise, I found my pair of purple gloves there in my pocket! The gloves the man had picked up off the train floor were identical to mine, but they were not mine! It became clear to me that God was showing His faithfulness to me in connecting me to minister to the grieving man! It was just the touch from God that I so desperately needed in my own time of struggle.

This simple situation, ordained by God, brought me a great deal of encouragement in my own faith. God was still there in the midst of my hard time and He was still working through me and showing Himself to others. I felt hope for my life in light of His gracious display of faithfulness. May you see God’s faithfulness anew this Christmas season!

“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”   Lamentations 3:22-23

Remembering My Mom

 

 

My Mom Margaret E. Kellander March 24, 1942 - November 23, 2011
My Mom
Margaret E. Kellander
March 24, 1942 – November 23, 2011

 

 

I stood with my trembling mother, tears streaming down her cheeks, as she prayed with my pastor and welcomed Christ into her heart as her Savior. It truly was one of my life’s greatest moments.

 

Four years ago today, just two short years after that prayer, she was welcomed home into the arms of that Savior after losing a battle with cancer.

 

I’m so thankful that God had so graciously allowed me to be there that Sunday morning to witness that pivotal moment in my mother’s eternal destiny. He placed a yearning in my heart to pray for my mom’s salvation every single day for over nine years. With those prayers came an unwavering belief that she would come to trust and believe. I cannot describe in words the fire that God placed within my soul over this. I knew that I knew that He was going to bring her home one day.

 

Romans 5:5 says; “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us.”

The red rose...Mom's favorite flower.
The red rose…Mom’s favorite flower.

 

Only recently, after a chat with one of my pastors, did I come to see that the yearning, the unwavering belief in my soul was the deep love that Jesus Christ had for my mom. I’m no Bible scholar and far from being an insightful theologian, but as I grow in my understanding I see more clearly God’s sovereignty is always at work. No matter how much I longed to know my mom was saved, Jesus longed for her even more and He had a plan!

 

Because of His great goodness, He allowed me to be a small part of His beautiful, magnificent plan in winning over my mom.

I cannot express the gratitude I feel. God is so good.

One of the last photographs taken of Mom.
One of the last photographs taken of Mom.

I miss my mom more and more every day. But, I have the sweet assurance of knowing that I will see her again as we sing praises to the Lord. Perhaps our new, transformed bodies will be better able to carry a tune.

 

 

 

 

 

Love,

DLF

 

Hurried Times

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The warm rays of sun kissed the crown of my head. A nippy breeze brushed my nose. A multitude of birds sang in a harmonious chorus. Such is an evening in October. Strolling through the neighborhood with my dog, Zoe, that beautiful evening was pure bliss, until…

I was approaching the end of a driveway, heading for home, when a lanky man with snow white hair darted out of his front door to the car in the driveway. He jumped into the car and backed up narrowly missing Zoe and me.

 

Although everything happened within a matter of seconds, I remember thinking,  Surely he sees me, as he approached his car. Then I thought, it’ll take a few moments for him to fasten his seatbelt and look behind the car .Finally, I thought, Hurry! Run! as I did a quick jog, barely being spared of a collision with his back bumper.

He didn’t see me.

He didn’t buckle his seatbelt.

He didn’t look behind the car.

 

He was in a hurry- too much of a hurry. He neglected to do the things he needed to do, things he should have done. In his state of hurriedness he nearly hurt Zoe and me.

I began to reflect on how many times I have moved too quickly, recklessly thrusting into things I shouldn’t have.

Times when my words or actions were impulsive and hurtful to myself and others.

Times when I carelessly shared something told to me in private with others.

Times when I offered my opinion when no one asked for it.

Hurried times…

Times when I had just enjoyed fellowship so much that I didn’t want it to end. So, I invited a houseful of people to my home at a time nearly impossible to manage.

Times when I felt like supermom and signed up for a new project that stretched me and my family too far.

Hurried times…

Times that I didn’t stop to pray.

Times that I didn’t stop and think.

Times that I didn’t count the cost.

Have you found yourself in any of these situations, too?

“Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”             (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Let’s slow down. Let’s make the most of every moment. Let’s incline our ears to the whispers of the Holy Spirit.

 

 Love,

DLF

 

 

 

You Are Worth More

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I have a confession. I have a neurotic fear of driving to unfamiliar places. When I need to go to a place I’ve never been to drop off the kids, go to a party, or whatever the case may be, I have my husband, Jim, drive me there ahead of time so I can see the route and pick out landmarks. Crazy, I know.

The problem is that an advanced drive through isn’t always possible. Then I am faced with the decision to trust God as my guide or just not go. Honestly, I’ve probably decided not to go as often as I have decided to trust God.

Fear has stood in my way.

I have allowed fear to dictate to me what I was going to do.

Jesus said in Matthew 10:29-31:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs on your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Do you share my fear of unfamiliar roads?

Jesus says, “…don’t be afraid; YOU are worth more…”

 Are you facing a health crisis?

Jesus says, “…don’t be afraid; YOU are worth more…”

 Are you facing a financial crisis?

Jesus says, “…don’t be afraid; YOU are worth more…”

Are you afraid of the crisis in the Middle East?

Jesus says, “…don’t be afraid; YOU are worth more…”

 Are finances keeping you up at night?

Jesus says, “…don’t be afraid; YOU are worth more…”

 Are you afraid that your children are making poor decisions?

Jesus says, “…don’t be afraid; YOU are worth more…”

Are you afraid that you are just not good enough?

Jesus says, “…don’t be afraid;  YOU are worth more…”

 Whatever you fear, whatever troubles you face, sweet friend, always remember and never forget that if you are in Christ; He is in you. And HE says to you today, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

 

Love,

DLF

One Rainy Day

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This post was written for the devotional book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul~Random Acts of Kindness”.  There is no publication date as of yet. It is shared here by their permission. I’ll find out if it will be published as soon as a release dated is issued. It is quite different than my usual posts. I hope you enjoy it!

 

I couldn’t help but to feel grateful for my small five foot frame as I moved around inside my minivan fastening the buckles on the car seats of my daughter, Lindsey, and my son, Devon. Sheets of rain fell from the sky on that chilly autumn morning. Only the most necessary of errands could have moved me out of a warm, dry house on such a morning.

As I pulled out of my parking space and approached the parking lot exit, I looked to the left for oncoming traffic. Much to my surprise, a wrinkly skinned, gray haired lady flashed a toothless smile at me. She stood in the pouring rain with no umbrella and no raincoat waiting for the bus. My heart stirred for her. I couldn’t just drive away and do nothing. I reached back into the New_1_DSCF0701center of the van and pulled out my one and only umbrella and ran it over to her. She took the umbrella without a word spoken as raindrops fell from the gray stringy strands of hair along the side of her face.   She stood holding that umbrella as I pulled out and drove away. Even though I was now soaked to the bone and the kids and I were without an umbrella, I was thrilled at the opportunity to do something for someone else. It was such a gratifying feeling, warming my heart on a cold, raw day.

Later that day, after naps, we were in the kitchen. The sugar cookie dough was done setting up in the refrigerator and we were getting the stuff together to roll out some much anticipated pumpkin shaped cookies. Rolling pin, flour, cookie cutters, parchment paper, two excited preschoolers, all ready for action. The last thing needed was decorative sugar. I reached into the cupboard and pulled out the box of colored sugar and handed it to my daughter. The excited smile melted off her face like the last remnants of snow giving way to spring’s warming breeze.

white-kitchen-bakery-cookies[1]“What’s wrong, sweetie?” I asked without a clue.

“There’s only red, green, and pink sugar here, mommy. I want orange for my pumpkins,” she said with a heavy sigh.

“Well, baby, it’ll have to do. There is no way on earth that we’re going back out in the pouring rain with no umbrella to buy colored sugar.”

At that moment, as if there was a stage hand at the ready, behind the curtain waiting to ring a bell on cue to keep a play moving in perfect timing…the doorbell rang. Greatly relieved for the momentary pause as my daughter’s lips puckered as if holding back her tears, I scurried to the door. I opened the door just in time to watch a brown boxy delivery truck pull away. Lying on my welcome mat was a package. I thought it must be something my husband ordered. But as I turned and walked toward the kitchen, my eyes gazed down to see my name written on the label. The return address was my friend and mentor’s, Ella. She was an amazing woman. Genuine. Loving. Godly. Sincere.

I couldn’t imagine what she sent to me or why she sent it. She only lived fifteen minutes away. She loved to send cards of encouragement and I cherished each and every one of them. Funny though, I never received a package from her. The kids clamored to help me open the package. Ripping back tape and pulling out crumpled newspaper with the excitement of Christmas morning, we found a card with my name written on it. I lifted it up and Lindsey squealed with amazement and pure delight!

“Mommy,” she said, “LOOK, it’s colored sugar!”

Sure enough the box was full of sugar in every color of the rainbow! Bottles of orange, brown, green, blue, purple, red, yellow, and pink filled the box along with teeny tiny shaped candies. Little pumpkins, leaves, stars, hearts, clovers, candy canes, Christmas trees, and Easter eggs accompanied the brightly colored sugars. Lindsey beamed. Tears swelled my eyes as I read Ella’s card. She had been to a food trade show in Chicago with her husband who is a food broker. She couldn’t wait to get these to the kids and me to enjoy so she expressed shipped them as soon as they were back in town.

I put the card down and wiped my tears trying to refocus on the cookie making process with the kids. I drew a deep, soothing breathe just as Lindsey exclaimed, “Oh Mommy, look how did Ella know that you needed an umbrella?” There tucked in the side of the box was a brand new umbrella with the name of the food show on it.

The rest of the afternoon I felt my feet barely brush the floor as I moved around the house baking cookies, caring for the children and making dinner. I felt light and breezy. I felt loved and loving.

Later that evening, as we finished up dinner, we broke out the cookies. My husband and two older, school aged boys were quite impressed by the decorative candy pumpkins and colors on their cookies.New_1_DSCF0693

“Where did you get them?” my husband asked.                                                                                         .

“From God and Ella,” I answered with a smile that just wouldn’t leave my face.

 

Love,

DLF