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There is a time…

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

I don’t know about you, but I get impatient sometimes. I like for things to happen when I want them to happen. I want things and events to follow my schedule. And when they don’t, it frustrates me. I feel that I am so busy in my life that my calendar becomes the all controlling factor in my life. If it isn’t on my calendar, then it will not happen, or so I think. Rarely do I give myself the opportunity to be spontaneous. But every now and again, I will clear the day and let happen what may. Those days are fun.

In this passage, Solomon is trying to teach us that there is a time for every thing. And he doesn’t just state the fact and move on, no, he has to elaborate and leave no thought untouched. The items listed here pretty much sum up a life in general. A time for every thing. 

In my line of work, I have the opportunity to speak with people often about different chapters in their life. It is the only way I know to get across to them that it is okay to be scared and frustrated and mad. They are writing a new chapter of their life. They don’t know how to write it. They don’t understand why they have to write it. They don’t comprehend why their chapter had to change. And they don’t like where this chapter is leading. They don’t like that they are in a different time. 

But if I can ever get them to understand that it is okay to be mad and frustrated and confused about the why, I can help them to write this chapter beautifully. I can’t write it for them but I can show them how to write it more efficiently and more safely. A time for every thing.

I don’t know what chapter you are writing in your life. I have no idea what problems or issues or celebrations you have going on right now. But I can tell you this, you do not walk or write this chapter alone. Every event listed above is an opportunity to love and trust God. It is a time in your life to show others that He is the Author and Perfector of your faith. He is the One who brought you to it, and He is the One who will bring you through it. Happy Monday.

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

It’s a season of change at my house. Summer vacation has started. That means the grade transition has taken place. I now have two high school students. Friends have transitioned to non-high school life. People are moving from our everyday life to our text occasionally life. It is hard. It is sad. It is exciting. 

And as we look back over the last year, I see some heartache. I see laughter. I see adventure. I see success and I see failure. It’s the way of life. The ebb and flow of all things created. 

Yet as I see the page of a chapter in our life turning, I try to see God’s fingerprint. I see it in our continued love for one another. I see it in our attitudes. I see it in our tears for the change because we care so much. But I also see hope. I see the hope He gives in the promise that He will always be there. I see hope in the opportunity for new friends with new ideas and new dreams and new stories. 

Change happens in life just as surely as we know that the sun will come up tomorrow. Change can be scary. Change can be exciting. Change can be difficult. But in the midst of change, I encourage you to find hope. Solomon understood that “To everything there is a season”. We need to remember that as well. We need to accept that things don’t always keep us in our comfort zone. Growing doesn’t happen in that place. Growing happens when things are stressed and bothered. And that is exactly what God is doing in my house right now. Changing and growing with hope while reminding me of His fingerprints all over my life. 

What’s in the hole?

Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 – “I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.”

Do you remember those oddly shaped toys that had pieces with them that you had to find the right shape in order for the piece to go through and be collected inside the object? A child can take that round piece and try and cram it in each and every spot, but it will only fit in the round hole. 

Imagine your heart with a hole in it. This hole is oddly shaped in comparison to the other pieces of your heart. But in order for you to feel and function completely, that hole needs to be filled. 

Herein lies the problem. 

People will try to fill that hole with all kinds of things – other people, their job, a hobby, a drug – there are a multitude of things that people will try to fill that hole with. But time and again, they discover one thing – nothing really fills the hole completely. So they keep searching. They keep trying this and that, trying to fill that hole. 

In a house we once lived in, I decided that I would create a wildflower garden in this one particular spot. So I grabbed my shovel and off I went. I began digging and breaking up the soil only to find a plastic bottle. And then a can. And then some paper. Now this was a spot about four feet across by three feet and about twelve inches deep. This was no small space. Someone had filled this space with trash. They dug a hole and put in their trash and covered it back up – hoping to hide it for all time. But nope! I dug it all up. I removed all that yuck and planted my wildflower garden. It was very nice. But I had to get rid of all the yuck first. 

People try and fill that God hole in their heart with all kinds of yuck. They cover it up and hope that no one goes digging to find out that their appearance is a fraud. 

God is ready to plant a beautiful garden in that God hole in your heart. But it needs to be filled with Him. He is the only One that can fill that space completely. He is the only thing you need in that hole. 

Let me encourage you to examine that space in your heart this weekend. Make sure that you have only allowed God in that space. Make sure that you aren’t trying to fill it with yuck and cover it up. Make sure that you aren’t trying to cram in more than the only One you need in that hole. God doesn’t want company in that space. He wants to solely occupy it. 

Turn the page

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

Today is the completion of a two year project – working at the nursing home. I have worked in a nursing home setting consistently for almost 10 years. That is a lot of people and a really long time. I have learned so much from all the people I have come in contact with. Some of them have nearly driven me crazy and some of them have truly touched my heart. 

But today, I am leaving a small group of people that have come to be my adopted grandmas and grandpas. Their antics have made me laugh. Their situations have made me cry. When you work with people the way I do, your heart gets attached to them. And leaving them leaves a hole that is very difficult to fill. I think the hardest part is this – even though I will go back and visit, there will still be some I will never see again. That is hard. 

But in reality, we face that every day. It is just more clear on some days than it is on others. 

I am moving on to another job that will still keep me in contact with new people that need my help and my skills. But these people at this little facility will always hold a special place in my heart. 

And by the way, it isn’t just the older people I will miss. There are fabulous people that I work alongside. They are kind and gentle and thoughtful and dedicated to making the lives of those around them as beautiful as possible. 

I know that the older ones will probably never read this but I want them to know today that I love them. And I want to say thank you for making an imprint on my heart. For the ones that I labor alongside, I want to say thank you for caring with me to hold up this older generation. Your labor is not in vain. 

We all need to remember that Jesus said, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)  I cannot tell you how many times this verse has run through my head over the years. 

So as I turn the page today, I will remember that Solomon reminded us that there is a time for every thing. And today is my time to turn the page. 

Aww…sleep

Ecclesiastes 5:12 – “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”

I was able to do one of my most favorite things this morning – turn off my alarm. Tomorrow is Saturday – the one day a week that I can sleep in. And for that, no alarm. Sleep until I wake up. Love it!

As a whole, we are sleep deprived. Modern lighting has caused up to stay up way past when God intended for us to be asleep. We stay up too late and get up too early, all thanks to modern conveniences. But I will say this – I am thankful for the modern convenience of a dishwasher and washer/dryer! 

Anyway….

Why do I treasure my Saturday morning sleeping in so much? Work. Work. Work. All week long it is run here, run there, pick this person up, get this accomplished, remember to do that, be up early for this and stay up late for that. Wears me out just thinking about it. But you know what? I’m truly thankful for my busyness. Me being busy means that my family is healthy and active. It means that I have a job that pays me and a vehicle to safely transport me. It means that God has given me strength and ability to provide for my family. Busyness is good…most of the time. 

But there is another part of this verse – the part speaking of abundance. Now, I feel abundantly blessed indeed, but what is this talking about? What does this mean – “the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep”? 

Ok, here’s my take on it – there are some people who do not have to labor for what they get. They may have lots of money or not, but they don’t work for what they have. Being in this position provides no sense of accomplishment or satisfaction. Just because you have what you need to get by doesn’t mean you feel good about it. We all need that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to encourage peace. There is a deep stirring of the heart when you know deep down that everything is being handed to you. There has to be. Why else would God Himself encourage us to work? He knows that we need to work for what we have. He put that desire in us!

And with hard work comes the need for restful sleep. It is the sleep that comes with knowing that you have done your best today. It is the sleep that comes with knowing that you have let God lead you and guide you and that you have done your best for those around you. That’s what God has placed in our heart and that is what gives us a peaceful night of rest. 

So today, work. Work hard. Be diligent. Be devoted. Do your best. And then tonight, when your head hits the pillow, rest. Lay your burdens down before laying your head down and be at an even greater place of peace. Work needs rest. Don’t forget to do it. 

A little quiet time

Ecclesiastes 5:2 – “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.”

I like to talk. Oftentimes, I talk when I should be quiet. I have been known to say things I shouldn’t. Sound familiar?

When I’m praying, I find that many times, I’m the one doing all the talking. I spew out my needs, my wants and my concerns. And yes, God wants to hear them. He wants to address them. If they are important to me, they are important to Him.  

But sometimes I need to be quiet, especially before God. He is the Creator of the universe. He is the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords. He is the Alpha and Omega. And that’s just naming a few of His titles. 

Do I really consider this fact when I am speaking to Him? Or am I rambling on to Him like He is only my friend? I mean, yes, He is my friend, but He is so much more than that, and I think that sometimes I take that for granted. 

Without the blood of Jesus, I would have no way of even being in the presence of God, much less even be able to utter a word before Him. But with that covering, I have VIP access. I am able to talk with the One and Only God. 

I just want to encourage you today to keep that in mind. Remember that Jesus is not just a friend, He is God. And that distinction demands that sometimes we just need to be quiet before Him. 

Saying Goodbye

Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 – ” To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance”

It was about 19 years ago sometime in the summer that I went to pick him up. He was as small as my hand and feisty as could be. How could something so small create so much havoc yet be as sweet as honey? My little cat, Raja, came into our life. We had just been married a year and I really wanted a cat. So, my new husband consented. Little did he know on that day that he had agreed to a 19 year commitment. 

We have been through a lot with Raja. He has lived all over the country, chased an innumerable number of milk rings (you know those little rings around the lid of a gallon of milk), shed a ton of hair, and loved us unconditionally in those 19 years. 

When we got home from all our running around on Monday, one of the kids noticed that he was walking funny. And it went down hill from there. We said goodbye to him yesterday. It was an incredibly hard day. My eyes are still puffy. 

I don’t now what happens to animals when they pass. Some like to believe they go to Heaven.  I’m not so sure about that. Pets can’t accept Jesus as their Savior. But, nonetheless, what is important is my attitude in the situation. God gave me 19 wonderful years with that little guy. The thought of him makes me smile. And believe you me, I was crying out to the Lord yesterday. Not because I was asking Him to change the situation, but rather to give me what I needed to make it through. Raja was important to me and subsequently, he was important to Jesus – and that gives me comfort. 

We also had a church member graduate to Heaven this week and another that we know from another church as well. It has been a sad few days. 

But this is the turning of life and love. We love fiercely and hold on dearly and then the time comes when we have to let go. And it is the letting go that hurts so much. 

But I am reminded of this: John 14:8 – “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” Jesus doesn’t leave us to wallow in our sorrow. He doesn’t abandon us when things get tough. He doesn’t leave us to say goodbye all by ourself. No, He is standing right there beside us when the last hug is given, when the last long look is exchanged and when the first tear is shed. 

Accepting the changing of the season can sometimes be tough. It is a growing period that is a long and difficult road. But praise be to God, we don’t walk it alone. 

I pray that if you are in this season that God will comfort you in a mighty way today. And if you are not in this season, be a blessing to someone who is. I’m sure that we all have those who could use a little extra hug today.