Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Best Is Yet To Come

Imagine you're sitting around a table loaded with good food. After prayer the salad is passed around, fresh and colorful. Looking around the table you see all the good and wholesome things coming your way. Everything seems more delicious than the last, but just when you think it couldn't get any better someone says "Save some room because the best is yet to come!"

The week has been long and hectic. Projects took longer than you thought, you're behind on your schedule and unexpected events turned everything on its ear. Then you glance at your phone...4:32 pm, Friday. You smile. Just a few more hours before the "day of rest and gladness" arrives. There is no question in your mind... the best is yet to come!

An elderly couple approach newlyweds who still cant say the word "marriage" without smiling. They congratulate them and share a few funny stories of their first years as a couple. As they walk off hand in hand the old man calls over his shoulder "If you kids think you're in love now, just you wait! The best is yet to come!"

I could go on and on. There are countless examples of the better things to come. But
sometimes I wonder, "Can it really be true?". In the moment, the future can look foggy and unfamiliar. All I have is the happy memories of the past. But, here is the beauty! It IS true! Even though I cannot see the future I can roll out of bed with a smile knowing the best is yet to come!

It's such a great feeling! Ultimately, life on this earth is not where it all ends. In a huge, gigantic way, Heaven is the ultimate "best" to look forward to. Even in the earth made new I expect we will be saying "the best is yet to come". Every day spent in God's presence will be sweeter, our knowledge of his love deeper, our appreciation of beauty fuller. No matter what joy or sorrow comes our way in this life, we have a beautiful, brighter day to look forward to!

Now I can live so much more joyfully in the present! It's great to live in anticipation of good things!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Gift of Pain

Pain. It is like a dark and lonely room full of shadows. Sometimes we stay awhile. Sometime we only pass through. We may experience it together or be utterly and completely alone. It comes in as many shades and forms as there are people on the planet. Every person has , is or will travel through their own "shadowlands" - One of the few guarantees in this unpredictable world.

Pain. It wracks bodies , breaks hearts , and defies expression , often running so deep we are left wordless. It stuns. It overwhelms. It inspires fear , guilt , or just pure anguish. This is pain.

Pain has been on my mind. It's been on my mind because I don't understand why...why all this pain? This weekend I sat with my arm around the shoulders of a dear friend , able to protect her slightly from the cold , but unable to shield her from the disease ravaging her body. Days ago my vivacious 2nd cousin, Randa, died suddenly of a brain aneurysm, leaving a heart-broken fiance. Yesterday I received an email from a missionary in Tchad I've never met , who is reaching out for comfort as we both grieve the death of a mutual friend.

Pain is real. It stares you in the face and cannot be ignored. Have you ever wished you could fix it? The current pain in my foot is fixable. I've made an appointment at the Doctor's office and have full expectation he will make my foot better. Using this logic wouldn't it make sense for God to take our pain away? He has the power. He loves us. Isn't he the great Physician? Isn't pain the enemy?

This is where God has been teaching me new things. Could pain possibly be a gift? My first thought is "How revolting! There is no way this awful pain could be a good gift!" But it has started to dawn on me, slowly... Pain takes away my self-sufficiency. Pain pulls me to my knees. Pain presses me deeper into God's heart as I cry "WHY?!". Pain leads me to greater surrender. Pain requires greater trust. Pain gives me compassion for those hurting. Pain is a purifying fire... Pain is a gift. Anything that draws me closer to the Lover of my soul is a gift, no matter how painful. As a favorite hymn says "Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee, Even though it be a cross that raiseth me."

While pain is a gift, it is only a gift for a time and season. There will come a day when it will have used up its usefulness. In that beautiful day, we will set aside the gift of these broken and wounded hearts. In the words of a song...
* "We'll see how the tears that have fallen
Were caught in the palms
Of the Giver of love and the Lover of all
And we'll look back on these tears as old tales"

I will never fully understand the "why" behind pain and loss and brokenness. But one thing I know. We can take either joy or pain as from a Father's hand. It's a gift and God only gives good ones.
(James 1: 17, Matthew 7: 11)

* After The Last Tear Falls - Andrew Peterson
You Are Good (last verse) - Nicole Nordeman
It Is Well (instrumental) - Josh Wilson
Before The Morning (acoustic)- Josh Wilson
Blessings - Laura Story
Day by Day - Hymn 532
Nearer My God To Thee - Hymn 473

Friday, October 19, 2012

Family and Fall

Clarisa and her boyfriend Alex enjoying our hike.

The trees are gloriously beautiful!

Two of my "most favorite" people in the entire world! They're pretty special.

We went camping near Lake Ocoee. The sky was clear and full of stars, but later on dumped torrential rains on us. Still had a fantastic time!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

5K = Conquered

I'm not a runner. I always thought running felt free and fun, but my knees have never agreed with me. My first year at SAU I tried intermittent (jogging/walking) training for 30 minutes on our nice cushioned track. I regretted it for the next 2 weeks as my knees creaked and crackled all the way up the girl's dorm stairway. From that point on I decided...running and I just can't be friends. So I would only watch with longing as my friends trained for marathons, mid-night races, or even 50 mile trail runs (incomprehensible!).

Now that you have the background, you can fully appreciate my feelings when Emily ask me if I wanted to do the Pink Army 5K fundraiser her hospital was sponsoring. I'm not a runner, I'm a walker, and I informed her of this with much conviction. She assured me walkers were welcome so I agreed to go along and give support.

As the race began I decided I would jog along with Emily til I couldn't keep up. We picked a nice slow, easy pace. After about 10 minutes I excitedly informed Emily that I had set a lifetime record already! From then on out I just kept thinking "I could go a little longer...". I had set my goal as the halfway mark, but when we approached it Emily turned on her highly persuasive motivating skills. "Come on Heather, you've already come half-way! You can do this! Just think how great it will feel to say you ran the WHOLE WAY!" I was easily convinced. Just then, we passed the water station and a bunch of enthusiastic ladies (one was wearing a flamingo hat - it was spectacular!) yelled encouragement. As we headed back toward the finish line one of them called out "We're all survivors!" It was then Emily and I realized the entire water station was manned by cancer survivors. For the next half mile we discussed what they had been through. I realized the heat and sore muscles I was feeling was nothing compared to what they had suffered through. I could still breath so I could still run.

The last 4th of the race was the hardest, as Emily predicted, but the sprint to the finish felt epic. I couldn't believe I had jogged for more than 10 minutes, much less the entire 5K! Oh the feeling of accomplishment! I was exhausted but still managed to have energy for the above victory shots. It has yet to be seen if this "walker" is going to be using a walker in the next couple days, but I'm still thrilled to have conquered something I've avoided for years! It really made a few Bible verse come alive to me.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."
~ Hebrews 12:1

“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should."
~ 1 Corinthians 9:25-27

The one I'm personally claiming..."Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees." Hebrews 12:12. So thankful feeble, weak knees don't keep me from running the race of faith!

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Although I am not at all sure if this conference is even a feasible part of my future, I was inspired by watching this promotional video. We ARE the revolution! The revolt against the lukewarm, mediocre christian existence. My hope and prayer is that we all catch the vision and passion for a sold-out, set-apart, Christ-empowered life! Let Jesus be lifted up, the Holy Spirit poured out and this world will be shaken with a tsunami of God's saving power! I want to be a part of that!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Soundtrack for Dreaming...

 This is but an add-on to the previous post. Despite the winter pictures, this song makes me think of Fall and Thanksgiving...which I might add, is only a little over a month away. That's a happy thought!


Our air conditioner has died a dramatic death. First it froze us, necessitating long sleeves and hot drinks. Then it just kicked the bucket, leaving us in 87 F humidity with no fans in the house. If I ever took Mr. A/C for granted I repent. I miss him oh so very much! At night I have resorted to curling up on the carpet in front of my window just to get some sleep. It's almost like camping...almost. I've done everything I can think of to help me think "cooler" thoughts : play christmas music, drink ice water, change my computer wallpaper to a winter scene etc. Then I got the above instagram pic from my sister showing the ice they have in Aspen. It's hard not to be envious of a place that's a good 40 degrees cooler. But rather than envy, I have decided to dream about it, which is much more positive! The beach is lovely and the Florida greenery is very nice, but just for a nostalgic moment or two I'm allowing myself to dream of Fall.
I'm dreaming of making apple sauce and of home-made apple cider. There is nothing like the smell it has as it simmers on the stove, with a cloved orange bobbing around in it. Can't hardly think of that smell without also thinking of the smell of bonfires I often sit around while drinking that same delicious autumn drink.
I'm dreaming of those crisp mornings when I first break out my wool coat and cozy scarves. Usually that evening, almost without fail, I also break out the yarn basket and start crocheting yet another scarf to add to my collection. I find it so comforting how scarves wrap around my neck, ears and nose. It's almost like they are hugging me.
I'm dreaming of those times when I round a curve in the road and suddenly have a terrible time keeping my eyes on the road because the trees are just so BEAUTIFUL! When the evening sun shines through them they glow like chinese lanterns! Such luminescence! Watching leaves fall is one of those "predictable/unpredictable" things in life that quiets the soul, like falling rain, flickering fires or crashing waves. Love how they dance and sail around, each with it's own style. If any of you haven't tried catching a leaf as it falls, I challenge you! Try it! I've done it, but it took a lot of running around!

Well, that was a happy time of dreaming...Now I think I'll go enjoy my Floridian weather with yet another walk on the beach. Life is good.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Greater Gift

I find waiting hard. Despite all the many chances I've had to wait on the Lord in the past, somehow its never easy to do in the present. However, looking back on all the miraculous ways God has moved in the past does give me confidence in His wisdom, perfect timing and goodness.

God has been sending me many reminders lately to wait on Him. The latest one came from a poem a friend posted on their blog. It talks about someone who is praying for something specific and claiming God's promises in faith. They become impatient and discontent with God's constant answer of "Wait". In the last part of the poem God explains how He is able to send signs and move mountains, but how we would miss the most important lesson of all if we never had to wait on Him.

...“You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.

“The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.

“You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I’m doing in you.

“So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait.”

Author: Russell Kelfer

I was convicted with the truth of it...the greatest gift is to know God our Father! Nothing else compares. God hears our prayers but, in His tender love and wisdom, He sees our need of Him as greater than our need for immediate answers. He will not ignore our fervent petitions for healing , jobs , relationships or whatever may be pressing on our mind. In His perfect time He will move. But we have the more precious gift in the meantime...more Of Him!

Friday, October 5, 2012


October 1 Emily and I went to the beach to watch sunrise, eat breakfast and read the Word. It was the best possible way to start the month! I am beyond blessed to have an encouraging, adventurous and godly housemate like her! Thank you Jesus!
Vilano Beach is a 15 minute drive from the apartment. This was a particularly windy evening around sunset. Every time the waves crashed my face was misted with ocean spray. I enjoyed that.
Friday night Bible Study at Panera Bread. Good food, meeting new friends and diving into God's Word! What could be better! I was really inspired by our study. Notice all the notes written on napkins.
Meet Tammie! She is one of my newest and most smiley friends! We were both really excited about the amazing salad she was working on.
We took a walk after lunch on a boardwalk near the Paris' home. Saw a small army of little crabs crossing the mud flats and was only mildly unnerved by the poisonous snake warning signs. We came out unscathed. :)
One day this week I ran into some bad traffic during a run to the post office. So I just took a detour over to the beach for a nice long walk as I waited for St. Augustine rush hour to die down. If only that was always an option when confronted with traffic jams!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Promise Keeper

Picture a father tossing his kid up in the air as they giggle and laugh. Every time he throws his child into the air he makes a promise. The promise is this : "I will catch you". Every time the child lands safely back in his strong arms his promise is kept. He is a promise keeper and the little child knows it. Willingly, they continue free-falling into his arms, full of trust.

Recently God has been showing me how He is the ultimate Promise Keeper. Scripture is chalk full of promises! Promise upon promise! We are promised salvation , grace , wisdom , forgiveness , words in season , perfect peace , strength and more. I am well acquainted with many of these promises , however God has to take me back to spiritual kindergarten sometimes. This is the simple , yet profound thought God has been teaching me lately.

It is not I but Christ. Everything. Every single thing. I am helpless. There is no good thing in me. The only good thing in me is Jesus. He is my salvation , my joy , my life. As the verse says in Galatians 2: 20 "it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me". It is by His power and sacrifice that I am both saved AND kept.

In Jeremiah 31: 33 God promises to write His law on our minds and make it part of our being. In Leviticus 20: 8 He says He will sanctify us. In Jude verse 24 He promises to keep us from falling into sin. Similarly, 1 John 3: 9 promises that if we are abiding in Christ we cannot sin...we CAN NOT be snatched out of His hand. Our victory is assured.

Now, if God is the Promise Maker, doesn't it make sense He would be the Promise Keeper? When I honestly evaluate my thoughts, actions and motives I realize how often I try to keep the promises God makes. Eagerly I commit myself whole-heartedly to Him and head out to "finish" His work in the world and my life. If only I would recognize the impossibility of this. Maybe then I would be reminded to seek constant connection to my only Source of Power and Victory.

I cannot save a soul...apart from the Savior. I cannot live victoriously...apart from the Victor. No more than a branch can continue living when cut off from the tree. I am nothing. It is literally God dwelling in me, doing the impossible.
To the end of time, He will be my everything. My fate will be eternally secure only because I have settled into my dependence on Christ and cannot be moved from my place of refuge.

Yes, I am ask to free-fall into my Heavenly Father's arms, but He has kept every promise He ever made. He is the Promise Keeper and He's got me.

Psalm 4 : 8

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